The internal struggle to post this today has been with me for weeks. Do I, don’t I. What would you do?
365 Days… 525,600 minutes… 31,536,000 seconds, and it still feels like yesterday. It amazes me how 1 year can feel like an eternity, and yet it all seems like it was just yesterday.
I remember every detail of that day, minus driving home. I still can’t wrap my head around how I got from point A to B without getting in an accident. I remember the exact outfit I was wearing, 365 days later, I have yet to wear that combo again. I remember opening Facebook that morning and seeing the initial news story, searching the pictures for clues, and checking your page and the Coast page, in hope it wasn’t you. I remember the call, trying to juggle the work phone and my cell going off. The sound of Zack’s voice, the gut feeling when he said it was important we talk, and his confirmation as I said your name… “Denise?” I can remember through the tears telling him “Zack, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry” over and over. The feeling of not being able to catch my breath, and the feeling of guilt.
I’ve found myself in multiple situations over the last year, some scary and some happy, where I’ve thought of you. The emotions are still mixed. I’m no stranger to sudden and painful loss, but you… this felt different. I can remember when I first met you, after listening to you on the air and then watching you on TV, you walked in the studio one day to promote a Komen fundraiser and I was star struck. I remember being super excited and telling my mom that I met you. Over the years we would see each other and chat at events, and other celebrations/functions. You were always so quick to give me positive constructive feedback on my show, pushing myself and other females in the business that tends to be male focused.
Suddenly, on a random Tuesday, you were gone.
In October, I had the privilege of hosting a luncheon in your honor. It was one of the proudest, and hardest moments of my life. Standing in front of over 200 people trying not to stumble over my words (which I was not fully successful at), cry, or forget anything. I remember you telling me before my first 5K “you got this!” those words, your voice, it played over and over in the back of my head that day.
When I hear people talk about your life, they always talk about your laugh, smile, love, and passion. The drive you had to recover after a car wreck, to beat cancer, to raise funds and awareness so your daughter doesn’t have to face it. Not wanting her to be a statistic to cancer like you had been.
One year ago, you became a statistic again.
“On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.” – National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV.org)
I know this is not how your story was to end, or how you want to be remembered. But it’s an opportunity for us to open up dialog, empower and educate instead of keep it tucked away like a dirty little secret. Always looking for the best story, you wouldn’t want that either.
A few weeks before you left us, there was a large group of us radio folks that gathered at Santaniello’s. Thanks to Facebook, this memory popped up recently and triggered so many emotions inside me. There were laughs, snaps, and of course focaccia… That’s how I’ve remember you for the last 365 days, laughing and joking around before sneaking away during the meeting to snag the last piece of focaccia… unnoticed.
It’s fitting that 365 days later, that same group will be gathered together tonight. I’m sure you’ll be sitting there with us.