Thursday, April 6, 2017

Polka Dot Grins

I have a little white polka dot keepsake box. I found it at Beall's Outlet, and it only cost $3.99. It was a great bargain, and it is absolutely adorable.

Yet, it is a confusing little polka dot box. Full of some of the most cherished, loved, prized memories...and full of some of the most indescribably painful, horrible, unforgettable pain. It's a cute white box with gold polka dots on the outside, and a light pink interior. It has a gold bow on the front. It makes a beautiful dust collector that now resides on top of my dresser, taking precedence over makeup and hair accessories.

It sat there empty for a few days before I decided to use it for the purpose in which I bought it; to store some of my most precious keepsakes. Inside are the few items that I get to hold in place of my nephew. The few physical possessions that remind me that he really did exist. That he was more than just a victim. That he was a little pain in the rear while incubating. That he spent the first night of his life just checking out the hospital room with me while Mommy slept. That Aunt Squishy gave the best snuggles. That he was this fat little wiggle puff that was full of grins and laughs. That he was this gentle sweet soul, that loved nothing more than to cuddle. That he was the true love of his Momma's life, and she was his.And that all we have are little memories in the shape of a pajamas that he wore at your house the only time he spent the night. Little socks to match.

And we each have our piece of John. Somewhere in each of our homes my family has their things they just could not part with, even though we never should have had to part with our baby. Little sweet, painful reminders of the short but truly amazing time we spent with John. They will never be enough, but it is all we have. We also have a throw pillow that wears John's fireman onsie we heisted from his Mommy. It's a battle around here trying to find who stole my John pillow.



I had to open it today to place a piece of paper inside that was handed to us at the Victims Remembrance Ceremony that was hosted in remembrance of victims in our home county. It was a quiet and solemn ceremony. And it was kind of consoling in a way to know that we are not alone. There are other families suffering the same terrible pain. It also broke my heart knowing that they know our pain..they understand that sadness of never knowing why.

When I opened the box to place the paper inside, there he was. This big beautiful grin coming at me. Two little teeth that had just broke through. Hair in his face. Fat little cheeks split in a gummy grin. My sweet fat baby. And then this kind of came pouring out. I had to share the power of this box with others I guess. I love looking at pictures of John, by my word they hurt. They make your heart seize, and give you that terrible "I'm not going to cry" lump in your throat.

I just want to hold him one more time. Even though it would never be enough.

Monday, February 27, 2017

A Pure Soul For Eternity

So much can be seen in those little eyes.
I want to start this with a small disclaimer. I do not share this to open up a debate about religion or anyone else's beliefs. This is my personal opinion, and my personal experience. I don't need anyone trying to convince me of anything different, or what is right or wrong. I'm also not trying to disprove or prove anything...just know to keep an open mind as you read.

One thing we've heard over and over and over since John passed, is that "God has a plan."

Okay. If you are religious, or believe in God, I'm genuinely happy for you. But if you don't, hearing that over and over is like being told that in a world full of awful evil people, He wanted an innocent child. That is how that sounds to people like myself. Like God is a murderer. He predestined John to be killed by his babysitter.

I used to believe in God when I was child. But as I grew up, I learned that science has disproved many things concerning the Bible and religion. So I put my faith in the idea that this universe is too vast for there not to be something, but not necessarily "God". That is my personal belief. I would NEVER ask anyone to change theirs, for mine. John's death kind of compounded my loss in faith.

I truly believe that what we put into this world comes back to us in the end, and that we are more attuned with nature than religion, if we would only take time to see it.

When I try to discuss these feeling with other people, they will automatically shut me down. They tell me that "God" didn't kill John, only planned his time of death, not the how. But no matter how you word it, you are still implying that God planned on a child being dead before his first birthday. Think about that. He still organized it.

And then people follow that up with "...we will never know why, you just have to trust Him..."

Yes. That instantly takes away my heart ache. I'm just supposed to be okay with my nephews untimely death because God says so. Which would be great, if I were faithful, but I'm not. So all you are doing is rubbing salt in very raw wound. Please forgive what seem like sarcasm. I have openly admitted to my bitterness lately. Don't take it as a personal attack on your beliefs, that is not my intention.

I'm not saying God isn't real. Don't mistake my anger and hurt as saying you are wrong in your beliefs. I'm not. I just don't feel the same. I don't think the same.

Angela has put her heart in God's hands, and I am so happy she has. She needs someone to turn to when it gets really hard. She needs that comfort in knowing that her baby is in a much better place. And I genuinely believe he is in a much better place too. She finds solace in church and prayer, and I would never ask her not to. She is right to believe for herself and for her fat man.

John was as pure as a first winter's snow. He radiated a exuberant beauty from his soul that shined through his smile. We all knew from the first minute that he would be a good baby, and some day a good and kind man. We just sensed that he was good. I was so excited to see how amazing he would be.

When I dream about him as a grown man, I can sense his presence. A grown man John, with the purity of his clean child's soul. That is how I know it is him. The smile, and the soul. That feeling in my own soul...

I was recently discussing this religious conundrum with someone when he stopped me. This man is religious, well not religious, but faithful as he put it to me. After he stopped me he told me a story he heard once. I knew I had to share it with Angela, and the world. I may not have faith in God, but I do believe in the power of our souls.

I share this because I will never understand how Nora couldn't walk away from him that day. I will never understand what compelled that monster to pick him up and do what she did...but this is as good an explanation as I could hope for...

He explained it as follows:
   
     There are seven pure souls on Earth at all times. These souls take many forms from young to old. The soul passes to a new person when one of them passes. These souls are shrouded and protected by Guardian Angels from the evils of this world. Even though they are there to protect the soul, they can't always see the evil, and can't protect the physical being that contains the soul. Sometimes there is evil seeded in a person, invisible to the Angels, and doesn't grow until it gets near one of the pure souls.
     He explained that from what he has heard about John, and seen through pictures, he honestly believed John was a pure soul. He believes that his babysitter had an evil seed in her heart, and the more she was exposed to John's purity, the more her evil grew and manifested, until she killed him. He didn't say this to excuse her actions, as they are inexcusable, but to give an answer for the why?...

This story resonated with me, and I knew the power it could hold for Angela's broken heart. During John's services, the Pastor made a point to direct everything at Angela, and I'm glad. She needed to hear him. One thing the Pastor said over and over, and I think that is why this story resonated so deeply, was that John was a pure soul, and guaranteed a spot with God.

John and Mommy.
There are a couple of things I truly hope you take away from this today...

The first is that while your beliefs are beautiful, not everyone shares them and what you think may be words of wisdom actually cause more grief. Think before you speak to someone that has just suffered a loss. Offer prayers, not God's 'plan'. Leave that between them and God.

The second is that while you can clearly see I do not share in Angela's beliefs, I can keep an open mind towards them. I want her to cling to her faith, keep God on speed dial, because she needs Him and she is so right in needing Him. And while she may believe differently, she has never once condemned me for not agreeing. We discuss it. She prays for me, and I think of her always.

There is so much more pain to grief than just the loss itself. There are emotions and questions, most of which we will never have answers to; some that are too hard to handle. Some people turn to their faith, others to their family.

But mostly please continue to keep her in your thoughts, prayers or however you wish well for others.












Thursday, February 16, 2017

World Upside Down

I have started this blog about ten different times. I know what I want to say, I just can't unscramble my thoughts enough to put them down coherently for everyone else to understand.

As you all know, my nephew John died from a traumatic head injury he sustained while in the care of a babysitter, Nora Boles. By now most of you know the manner in which he received those injuries. If not, I will go into that shortly. A lot of people have asked us over and over how could we be so patient, when this happened months ago?

We went to see John on Valentine's Day...I think he wanted
in on the picture!
Trust me, we are well aware of when John passed, and how quickly it went by. It seems like it took a long while, but to us, its been an awful blink of very over-cried and tired eyes. And all the same it feels like it has been an eternity since we got our very last cuddle with John. It has been 163 excruciating days. I could tell you to the minute how long since his little heart permanently stopped beating.

Trust me, you will never know how difficult it has been waiting to know what really happened that day, or the amount of self-restraint and patience we've all endured.

I will start on September 6th 2016.

When John died, Nora told detectives, and Angela that John's head injury was an accident. Angela believed with her heart it was an accident. I was skeptical from the start, but I am more critical and cynical than Angela. She has the heart, I have the attitude, and Virginia has the brains. Babies don't get head injuries like his on accident. But out of respect for Angela, and due process, we waited.

We didn't release her name to the media or public because, at that time, we thought she was innocent. We all know how the world will judge and destroy before they have the facts, and we didn't want this to happen to someone that wasn't guilty.

Jump to October 31st 2016...

This is the day that the detectives informed us John's death was not an accident. We knew for three and a half months that this evil monster threw our baby across the room in anger before she was arrested. We still waited patiently, quietly.

Why?

Because we were doing our part to make sure that the detectives and state had everything they needed to get her. And they did their jobs, and they did them beyond what we expected. We sat idle in quiet anxious wait, to learn whether or not the woman responsible for John's murder would be arrested. We waited to see if we would get justice for our baby.

February 2, 2017

"21 YEAR OLD OCALA WOMAN CHARGED WITH FIRST DEGREE MURDER IN THE DEATH OF INFANT On Thursday, February 2, 2017, Marion County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) Major Crimes detectives arrested Nora Boles (DOB: 06/06/1995) on a Marion County bench warrant for First Degree Murder in the death of 11 month old infant John William Smith (DOB: 09/14/2015). 

On September 5, 2016, the infant’s mother dropped the infant off with Boles, who was her babysitter, on her way to work. She received communication from Boles at approximately 4:00 p.m. that afternoon indicating infant Smith would not wake up and was only partially responsive. The mother took her child to Munroe Regional Medical Center (MRMC) for treatment. Staff at MRMC alerted law enforcement that due to the severity of the infant's head injury, the probability of abuse was high. Boles’ statements to law enforcement changed several times during the investigation. The infant was transported to UF Health Shands Hospital and pronounced deceased on September 6, 2016. Boles later made admissions that she had become frustrated with the child and thrown him across the room, causing the fatal head injury.

This case was reviewed by a Grand Jury, who issued a true bill to indict Boles for First Degree Murder. Boles is currently being held in the Marion County Jail with no bond."  - Courtesy MCSO 


And we have. She has not been convicted yet, but she is behind bars. As far as Nora is concerned...she can rot in a cell for the rest of her life. She deserves nothing less, but a whole lot worse in my opinion.

The day after news broke of her arrest, we were hit with a media storm. Reporters from all major agencies called. We hosted interview after interview. It was exhausting mentally and physically, having to relive all the bad moments over and over. Mostly we wanted to share with the world who John was. He wasn't here long, but dammit, losing him broke everyone in this family. He deserved to be seen and shared, not Nora.

My biggest fear is that the world loses out on who John was, to what happened to him. That they will see a victim, which he truly is, but he was also so much more. He wasn't here nearly long enough, but he impacted our family immensely. He was the good thing that always happened on a bad day. He was your smile when all you felt like doing was crying. He was a giggle during the hard times. And that child was the absolute definition of pure love, and heart to us all.

It has been a nightmare and a relief all in one, now that she has been arrested. We are relieved to know that she is going to be held accountable for his death, but it is so hard to find any joy in the moment. I mean honestly, what do we have to celebrate? Our family is destroyed, and our baby is still gone.

One thing I mentioned over and over to the media, was that we wanted John remembered and we wanted the world to acknowledge the work that went into solving his murder. Detective Zachary Hughes was the lead in the investigation for John's death, and as much of a pain in his butt as I have been, I can never truly thank him or his partners for everything they've done. Not only for us, but for John.

He reassured us from the start that he would get to the bottom of this, and would make sure there was justice if seen fit. And he did just that. And every time there was bad news, or any time there was a break in the case, he was there. He has been on John's side from the start, and the level of respect I have for him is indescribable. He's been there with our family from the start. He has held Angela's hand, cried with her and for John, and then had to go home to face his own family.

I know the level of guilt that goes with going home to your babies, when someone else doesn't get to.

It takes truly special and amazing people to do what they do, and it mattered to me to share that with the world.

Everyone tells us the hard part is coming, and I have this to say...

Nothing will ever be harder than the moment I watched my sister say goodbye to her baby.

Court, Trials, ...nothing will ever compare to that dead heart, empty soul feeling I get every time I think back to that moment. We will be present every step of the way for John, you better believe it.