From the Heart to the Hands: The Final Push

Trigger Warning: This post is part of a series related to domestic violence. The truth is that domestic violence is ugly, uncomfortable, and often brutal. This will read much along the same lines. If you are sensitive to the topic you might just skip to the bottom of this post.

If you have been following along throughout the From the Heart to the Hands donation drive (in honor of my biological mother who was killed by her partner when I was a girl), you know that Domestic Violence and Assault Services of Whatcom County serves thousands of people in my Tiny Town every year. Consider that the number of phone calls and direct services they handled amounts to roughly 10% of my hometown's population... and that's just those who find their assistance. My mother saw no relief from the unrestrained effects of her lover's tendency toward violence. If you've been following along, you know that healing from the tragedy losing my mother in this way is just one part of my motivation for this donation drive.
The other is my firm belief that all families deserve to feel safe and to be healthy. People working with DVSAS are heading to brighter futures framed by these premises, and I want desperately to provide this organization--which does so much for my community--respite from the constant need that nonprofit organizations typically face. Providing them several totes of items directly from their published list of wants and needs will help to seal financial gaps in provision, while also painting silver linings on the experiences of the clients they will distribute them to during some very challenging times.
When my mom died and my dad and stepmom (neither of whom I knew) got custody of me, I was given a coloring book to occupy me as they drove me "home" across state lines. I am 34 years old and still remember coloring pictures of Cinderella; tracing the sections with careful attention, gently etching back and forth with the crayons, focusing on something other than my dead mother and all of the uncertainty ahead.
I want every child who needs one to have a box of crayons and a coloring book to sink into when the grownups in their lives create heavy things for them to process. I want for every woman who will feel the sting of her face breaking under the pressure of her lovers' knuckles to have a journal to record both no-contact order violations, and the journaled words that will eventually come to heal her. I want for the staff at DVSAS to have the printers, thumb drives, and other tools they need to perform their invaluable work. And I want, perhaps more than anything, for the results of this drive to illustrate that my mother's life was not lost in vain. Here, her death helps others.
By the start of week two of her three-week hospital stay my mother had the entire left side of her body casted from the shattering force of her collision with the car her boyfriend crushed her with. Her lungs were collapsing; she developed pneumonia. Her liver was fighting to function; her kidneys were failing. She had a tracheotomy tube, several blood transfusions under her belt, and the blessing/curse of periodic consciousness through it all. Because her brother was born deaf, my mother and our family were fluent in ASL. We each had the opportunity to visit and speak with her this way before she died. We learned the events of that night and about the pain she was in, and then we said goodbye. The severity of her injuries took her at the age of 25. She left behind two daughters who came to understand life filtered through violence and colored by the repetition of our own experiences with it.
It makes sense that I would go on to do this work for other women.
This is the last image ever recorded of my mother. In it, you can see the tangible effects of violence in her life and therefore in mine. It is devoid of the color, the life, the emotion, and the personality that Lynn carried with her in her short life. It fails to convey the passions she enjoyed, the devotion she had toward her daughters, and the love she carried for her friends and family; nor does it illustrate her beauty, her will, or her strength. But I can assure you, she encompassed all of these things.
So now I am asking readers, community members, friends, and strangers to help me through one final push in my mission to collect the needed items for DVSAS. Please follow the facebook event here, LIKE the blog's corresponding facebook page here for updates, and support the work of similar organizations wherever you may find yourself if you are so inclined. I will be at the collection spot during these remaining time slots: 
Wednesday, 4/23, 5-7pm
Friday, 4/25. 5-6:30pm
Saturday, 5/3, 11-1pm
Consider taking a look at the list of needs in this post to get an idea of what would be useful. Thank you to all of you who have come out already, to those businesses who have offered incredible gifts, and to all of you who have shared with me your stories of tragedy, healing, and hope. Your gifts are varied and vast, and your resilience commendable. 

In peace.   

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