Monday, October 31, 2011


While traveling this summer I snapped this photo, my latest fine art print, in Holbrook, Arizona. WOOT!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Saturday, October 1, 2011


ETA - I wrote this last weekend as I sat in my hotel room and grieved at 3 in the morning. Today, 1 week later, is the funeral.

I learned the difference between killed and murdered yesterday. You would think that there isn’t one. A difference, that is, because the end result is the same. But there is a difference, and it’s more than just spelling and semantics.

It’s devastating when a friend passes away. Even more so when it is unexpected. I’ve experienced death in my life before. Mostly older relatives or friends that had lived good, full lives. At least that is what I tell myself to help with the pain and emptiness I feel when I think of them. When I do something or go somewhere and their ghost walks with me. They are remembered for their passions, how they changed my life, how they loved and were loved by me.

I have experienced a new and uglier side of death, the sudden and unfathomable loss of a friend my own age. I like it even less than the other deaths I’ve experienced on a ginormous scale. I’ve also learned an ugly truth, I wish would have never have come to light. The gaping difference between killed and murdered; and truthfully, I’ve never given it much thought. I haven’t needed to.

When you hear someone’s been killed you think of something accidental - a car accident. Murdered is an ugly word that seems to imply pre-meditation, some beast deliberately ending a life. Yet at the end, no matter the semantics and differences in conjured feelings, the results are just the same - that person is no longer a light in your life.

I have a group of friends that gets together as often as possible, which unfortunately, is not as often as we would all like. We attended the same high school. I went away for college and being the worst person at keeping in touch, fell out of communication with these people who had such a big impact on who I am today.

Through the scary power of facebook a little over a year ago, one of those friends contacted me. Though I had thought of her, I haven’t spoken with her since a few years after graduation. Not being much of a letter writer, (that’s right, pre-email) we had lost touch. 20 years later, I get a message on fb. Holy crap! A phone call immediately followed the message post and friend request. She lives in the same town we grew up in, and after moving back after being gone for 15 years, so do I. She suggests I friend another one of girls we used to hang with in high school. Again, holy crap! She still lives in Tucson as well.

We all meet for lunch for the first time in 22 years. I am nervous - how have they changed? Will I recognize them? Oh shit, they look so much older. Hang on, that means I do too. Gah! When did that happen? They’re different, but the same. These women with their adult lives, whom I remember as children, have children of their own. They run businesses, have their own houses and cars, and we spend hours sharing tragic and victorious stories spanning the past 2 decades.

Surprisingly, more of the high school pack start to join us. We meet as often as we can around our separate, individual lives and hectic schedules. Realizing those ties to the past are bonds that never broke, just stretched long and thin for 20 years. A birthday party here, a baby shower there. All of us didn’t always make it to each event. But that didn’t matter, we took what time we could and watched that bond snap back into place.

Yesterday one of these women, Misty Gale, was murdered by her boyfriend, who then took his own life. She had an angelic little girl late in life who is just getting ready to celebrate her first birthday and took her first 7 steps this week. She was an incredible woman.

The image of Misty that stays most in my mind is of her sitting across from me at my most recent birthday party, looking a bit tired but happy. Snuggling with and cooing to her little joy, Jady. Being patient with all of us as we greedily stole this cherub from her arms and passed her from one lap to another. Until she got to me and started to make strangled cries and was promptly handed back.

Misty’s life was ended far to abruptly by this beautiful girl’s father. I am having a difficult time figuring out how something so beautiful could come from someone so ugly. Then I remembered she is half Misty and the mystery is solved. Apparently the dominant gene is defiantly present here.

I found out when I woke up yesterday morning and had text messages and phone calls. I called one of my friends, Heather. “There was a report of a murder/suicide last night on the east side of town. Suzanne, it was Misty. Thad killed her.”

Denial. “Please tell me the news was wrong. They misidentified the people and got the wrong name.” “Sorry, no. Misty was murdered last night. Jady was there at the time but is fine. The police took her out of the house and she is with Misty’s family now.”

I’m traveling for work and run down to the hotel lobby to check the internet; something about not believing it until I saw it in print, though I knew Heather was telling the truth. And there it is in black and white.

Stunned acceptance. Rapidly followed by breaking down in the hotel lobby and bolting off to my room to cry without the breakfast crowd’s looks of confusion and my traveling companions’ looks of concern. A flurry of phone calls and texts between these women who have grown to mean so much to me, in spite, and most likely because of, the years we were living our separate lives.

Confusion and disbelief. There was nothing leading up to this event that indicated there were severe problems between them. Warning signs you think would have come first; complaints, restraining orders, fighting. It’s just not possible, how could this happen?

And a lot of anger.

So the difference between killed and murdered? Killed implies an accident. You think and hear the people at the funeral in the pew behind you “What a shame. This person was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nothing could have been done.” And, you are angry with the general universe. Murdered – deliberate and unfathomable. Unacceptable.

Misty, I want you to know you will always be remembered; for your fierce competitiveness, your exuberant joy over your little girl, your wicked and wry sense of humor. I hope you are watching that angel girl of yours. And know, at the next get together, there will be an empty seat for you.