Every Tuesday morning, I go to support group at the shelter for survivors of domestic violence. For this week, we had already been told that for annual Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the wreath ceremony would be that day.
I helped two of the case workers, along with a couple of the other ladies in the program finish the preparations for the ceremony. Between the lot of us, we took 158 purple paper balloons and affixed 158 stickers listing the name, age, and city of all of Texas’ domestic violence victims for 2015. There were five groups of purple patterned paper balloons, reserved for the five counties that had the highest amounts of domestic violence deaths; the rest of the counties were represented by balloons in one of two shades of purple.
The balloons were hung before the ceremony were hung around the wreath prior to the ceremony, save for thirteen. The ones kept back were from Dallas county, our county. Those were for the ceremony. Each of us in attendance was given a balloon and a slip of paper. That slip of paper had the name, age, city, and brief synopsis of what our balloon had gone through. A case manager spoke for a few minutes, and then we took turns reading about those who hadn’t made it out. One by one, the balloons joined all the rest, hanging by purple ribbons on the big, green wreath. Another case manager said a few words, followed by the CEO of the shelter, who was at her first wreath ceremony.
I am one of those people who tears up at happy endings in movies, so it’s no surprise that I had a hell of a time holding the floodgates. As prone as I am to crying, X has me hating anyone see me cry more than ever. We bowed our heads for a moment of silence, and all I could think was how lucky I had been. How if it wasn’t for a quick thinking and fast little boy who’d just turned five days before and his eighteen year old brother, I could have very well been a name and story waiting for the rest of my sisters for the 2017 wreath. I honestly think that had Landry not ran out that door and gotten Connor, X may have just killed me.
After the ceremony and after group, I finished up my laundry and went back to my room and asked the boys for a hug.
In 2015, the numbers in the Texas DV statistics all went up compared to 2014. Hopefully, this year will find them lower.
I am going to see if I can’t get a picture of the wreath to update the post with. It’ll be Tuesday at the earliest, though.