...and I need to vent. This is very long but if anyone is willing to read it, well, that'd mean a lot to me. Thank you.
This November 20th will be ten years since my niece, Mariah, was killed by her own mother, my brother's ex. That day also would have been one of my older brother's 17th birthday but he tragically died of heart failure at only two months old. My niece? She was only five, just two weeks away from turning six and she was SO excited. I had last seen her that Halloween and we helped her paint her nails yellow since she had dressed up as Belle from Beauty and the Beast. You know, with the big yellow gown. She had gorgeous red hair and blue eyes; I swear that dress looked perfect on her.
My mom asked Ginger (Mariah's mom) if they would like to meet for dinner on the 20th since she knew she'd be a little down that day. She agreed and my brother, Troy (Mariah's father and my brother) decided to join us even though he and Ginger were no longer together.
The 20th of November came and I vividly remember being told by my science teacher I had to leave now and my cousin was there to pick me up. My stomach dropped. I was never taken out of school without knowing at least a day in advance and certainly not by my cousin of all people. The entire car ride I tried to coax it out of her. 'What happened? Is it bad? Did someone die?' I was fifteen at this time and was so frightened I had lost my mom or one of my brothers, who are practically my best friends. Finally she told me that yes, someone had died. But I was not allowed to know who yet. The car ride was a brief five minutes but it felt like years.
When we pulled into the driveway I noticed a sheriff's car parked out front. I suppose I expected it knowing the news but that still made my heart race. Troy and Jeff (his twin) were being picked up by my aunt and my mom refused to tell me anything until they got to the house. Even though that should have made me suspicious, I still didn't expect to be told Mariah was the one who was gone. Suddenly I heard my aunt's Jeep come to a screeching halt as Troy came flying out of it. I think somewhere, deep down, he knew... The front door flung open and frantically he asked 'Mom! Mom! Please...WHAT HAPPENED? WHAT HAPPENED?! I HAVE TO KNOW! NOW!' Time slowed down to a crawl as my mom placed her hands on my brother's shoulders, took a deep breath, and did her damndest to hold back her tears as she whispered 'Troy...last night...Ginger...took Mariah's life.' I felt the blood drain from my face but my first thought--stupidly--was 'But she's okay, right?' Troy screamed the most heart-wrenching scream I've ever witnessed and spun around to the door, punching it and then collapsing to the floor. Jeff fell down beside him and tried his best to comfort him but it was no use. Troy threw open the door, running into the streets and shrieking 'That smurfing bitch! MY DAUGHTER! MY ONLY DAUGHTER IS GONE! OH MY GOD! SHE'S GONE!' I broke down sobbing, as did everyone else, and honestly I'm in tears right now just typing out the memory. It was a terrible, terrible, TERRIBLE moment.
The funeral came and was AWFUL. I mean, the WORST. We had asked them to paint her nails yellow because that's how we remembered them. Come the day of the funeral they were painted silver and it looked like they had just dragged the brush across the tops of her fingers in a line. The makeup was cakey, her lips were blue and sitting in the saddest frown I've ever seen, and the staples in her head from the autopsy were very evident. She looked dead and it scared me. I was so ashamed to be afraid of my helpless little niece. Then a classmate of hers came just to poke her body while his mother said 'It's okay. She's dead now.' I swear on everything that happened. We were beyond livid and kicked those horrible people out. After that we went to the cemetery and yet again my heart broke as I watched my brother lay himself over Mariah's tiny pink casket, screaming incoherently and gasping for air as he bawled his eyes out.
Ginger received 16 measly years for her crime. That's it. I couldn't believe it. She lured Mariah into the living room, telling her they were going to watch movies, then tried to suffocate her. That didn't work so she strangled her with her bare hands and left the body on the cough for NINE hours while she thought of a plan. Mariah's other grandmother was the one to find her, eyes bugged out of her head and tongue protruding. I shudder at the thought and feel so, so sorry for that woman.
Why did Ginger do it? Well, she claims it was to send her to Heaven. Yeah smurfing right. The night before it happened, Troy had called us asking if we could come pick him up from Ginger's apartment because she was freaking out about him refusing to get back together with her. He visited solely for his daughter and made it very clear to her. They fought and when Troy left, she said 'Take a good look at your daughter because this is the last time you'll ever see her.' At the time, we all assumed she meant she'd fight for full custody and move or perhaps try to get a restraining order. We knew neither would happen so we didn't worry. If we had only known... God, we all still feel so, so guilty for not considering the worst.
November 20th is coming up fast and I notice my brother more and more depressed each time I speak with him. He's never gotten with another woman and I know he never wants another child. He's a wonderful, loving man who has been to hell and back. If you all could keep him in your thoughts through this trying time, I'd appreciate it beyond words.
Thanks so much for reading.
ETA: Here is a little collage thing I made back when I was sixteen (so please excuse the quality) of Mariah and Troy. Wasn't she gorgeous?