Recently, my community and the blogging community suffered the loss of a person I never even knew before she was gone. She wrote a blog "Confessions of a Thrifty Mama on a City 'Stead," homeschooled her children, went to church, and by all accounts was an amazing person who did her best to live sustainably and ecologically in tune with her family and her community. As we seem to have friends in common, I am sorry I never got the chance to know her and now never will. She was Chris Keith, a devoted mother, who was doing the best she could for her children and was struggling to divorce the father of her three youngest children and was killed by him Dec. 4. (He also killed himself and Chris' eldest son, Isaac Miller, who was just 14, that night.)
Because I did not know her, I cannot speak to her specific story and what the details were of her life, but I feel compelled to share the facts of her death (and life) with you for two very specific reasons. The first is to break some of the silence and isolation that empowers domestic violence to continue. Our contributing author Amy has written bravely of her own story to that end and I want to share her story as well here. It is not easy to leave and both Amy and Chris deserve recognition for their bravery in fighting to get out of their situations. I'm not sure anyone knows the details of what Chris was going through this year as she left her husband, but the one silver lining to this tragedy is that while two innocent souls were tragically lost last week, the lives of her three youngest children (who were thankfully not home that night and were spending time with their grandparents who are now going to raise them) were quite possibly saved by her courageous decision to leave their clearly mentally unstable father. While these children have been both orphaned and have suffered the loss of their elder brother in a single horrific incident, they are still very much alive and will keep the legacy of their mother's bravery and devotion with them.
This leads me to the second reason for me to share this story, the church where she used to attend has created a memorial fund for her and Isaac in order to benefit the three young children who have been left behind. Obviously, their grandparents who are now planning to raise them, had no idea that they would be taking them in and need funds to fix their van, make their house work for three young children, and generally care for their grandchildren. If you have not already allocated your charitable funds this holiday season, please consider giving to them. The link is here. It is not tax deductible because it is not going to the church or to a non-profit domestic violence charity (although both of those causes would probably benefit from some patronage as well), but to the family directly so that they can deal with the practicalities of surviving the loss of this brave, powerful woman and her son.
Also, if you know someone who is in a relationship that you suspect is abusive, please talk to them privately about it and offer your support (it may take several offers before she feels safe enough to confide in you). This is the first step to helping her. Here is a link to the national domestic violence hotline for more specific information and help with planning an exodus safely. As Chris' story illustrates tragically, it is a life and death situation.
Thanks for reading,