I wish I could say I had done all that I could, but if I had, I wouldn’t be lying on this table cold and devoid of life with a gunshot wound marring my beautiful chest piece.
I wish I could say I went peacefully and painlessly, but I didn’t. I saw the gun but couldn’t believe he shot me. My chest split like an orange and I lost the ability to breathe.
Is it fucked up that despite this, I still love him?
I wish I’d known that standing up for myself would incite his rage. If I had I would have continued to silently take the relentless beatings and strangulation with whatever ligatures found around the house. He even used one of our daughter’s toys as a weapon.
I wish I could say that I protected her, but I didn’t. How could I? I thought by stifling my cries of pain and blending away bruises and cuts with makeup would stop her from seeing.
But things that happen in a household are rarely kept secret from those imprisoned inside.
“Mama! Mama!” My daughter screamed a few nights before everything ended. Her waking in the middle of the night screaming had become commonplace.
I ran to my daughter’s room, but before I did, I calmed her father who was angry having been awoken by her howling.
“This shit is getting ridiculous,” he fumed, his eyes never opening. I attempted to console him with my touch but before I could he muttered don’t touch me, go handle your business.
My business? You’d think I’d gotten myself pregnant.
I ran to my daughter.
“Mama, I had a bad dream!” She shrieked from beneath the bed. I coaxed her out promising to stay with her until she fell back to sleep.
“A bad dream about what?” I asked stroking her sweat-dampened curls.
She paused. Her eyes were wide and fearful.
“I dreamed daddy shot me,” she whispered.
I had no idea she knew her father had a gun.
I squeezed her tightly ensuring her that her daddy loved her and would never hurt her…or me.
Those were just words. Inside, I knew I had to do something.
I wish I could say the police were helpful and understanding, but they weren’t. They made me feel like I was taking too much of their precious time spent eating donuts and plotting the deaths of innocent Black people.
Shame on me for thinking 12 gave 2 fucks about a battered black woman crying out for help.
I got a restraining order and even managed to muster the courage to tell my husband that I was leaving him and taking our daughter.
The pain on his face was everything. For once I felt powerful.
Looking back I see how foolish I was to think a piece of paper could save me and my daughter.
I wish I could say I kept my promise to her. Not only could I not save her, but I couldn’t save myself. I wish I could say that she was away from the house when the shots were fired, but that would be a lie.
Her screams were the last thing I heard. Her small body, hot with my blood, held me. She gave me my last embrace. Her tear-stained face was the last thing I saw.
I couldn’t save myself. I couldn’t even safeguard her innocence.
I wish I could tell her not to be like me. I’d tell her to never let anyone lay their hands on her in the name of love. I wish I could see her grow up.
Who cares about the plight of the black woman?
Seemingly so strong and confident, she buries her true feelings.
Who cares about her pain, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional?
Who lends not only an ear but solutions?
Who is her rock when she is downtrodden?
Who is her protector when she is too wounded?
Who saves her from drowning?
Who saves her from dying?
I wish I had the answers.