That was a grieving dad's message to 1,000 people at his daughter's funeral after she was brutally murdered in their home. Borne of this statement was Jessie Blodgett's legacy: The LOVE>hate Project.
As I sat there with my face in my hands, asking Him why, my thoughts traveled forward from the eighth grade musical where Jess debuted her first original composition, "Butterflies." I remembered recurring visions of myself at her funeral with this song playing in the background. I had always dismissed these premonitions as typical parental fears. Every parent worries about losing their child, right?
Then I envisioned an angel coming to Jess in her darkest hour. As the rope bit hard into her neck, cutting off her air, the grip too hopelessly strong for her to fight off, as she struggled desperately, bewildered by the betrayal and cruelty of a friend, the angel came. Out of her body it called her soul. Floating up and away together, the angel whispered in her ear, "Fly away, fly high. You're a butterfly, and butterflies are free to fly..."
But, of course, most of life-the mundane minutes, seconds, and moments-was just normal life. Now, life would never be normal again, of course. No, it would be a moment-to-moment wrestling match, a constant duel for my attention between the abyss and the life of purpose.
Jess was a young woman with an indomitable spirit. She was the girl who ran out into traffic on Highway 60 near Pike Lake to rescue a turtle that wasn't going to make it across the road. She was the girl whose purse came from Ecuador, because it was a Fair Trade item, and even a stranger from halfway around the world deserved a chance to build a life. The way to meet this horrible tragedy was not with anger and bitterness. We had to respond to this incomprehensible act with the best of our true selves, not the worst. To honor Jess.
I had hit rock bottom. It had been over half a year now. It was the dead of winter. The shock phase was over, and all that was left was emptiness.
The day before, I had gone up to Jessie's room. I stood by the side of her bed. I imagined her lying there, sleeping peacefully.... And then I bent over and put my arm around her and gave her a kiss on the head, as if she was actually sleeping there.
Even though I was alone, it was kind of awkward. But something about it felt really good, too, and I ended up hugging "her" for a full five minutes. Then, I grabbed the flannel shirt hanging on her bedpost, the shirt that still smelled like her, the one she wore so much in her last days, and I climbed onto her bed with the shirt and, using it like a blanket, I snuggled with "her" for a half hour. And I imagined that she talked back, speaking words of comfort and wisdom.
FACEBOOK Buck Blodgett July 15, 2014
Jess, a year ago today.... At 12:35 p.m. I took the call from Mom. She was sobbing, telling me she found you-you weren't breathing; there were marks on your neck. She did CPR, called 911. EMTs worked on you as we spoke. I asked if you were responding. She said "no." I asked if you were gone. No words came. I talked to God the whole drive home, hoping, praying. Our driveway was full-squad cars, firetrucks, ambulance, Crime Scene Unit vehicle. They wouldn't let me see you, touch you, hold you. Your room was taped off. I understood, but not being there for you when you needed help, or to say goodbye, was unbearable.
It's been a year of deep pain and profound Love. Never again will I take a single second of this life for granted. I was wrong about God and Spirit and life after death. You have opened my eyes. You have infused some of yourself into me, made me kinder, braver, more musical, less judgmental. I live for you now, sweetie, for your legacy, LOVE>hate. See ya when I'm done here my hero, my brave and beautiful young w
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