It was a year ago yesterday...
It was a hot night. I was driving down to the record bar for a friend's MS fundraiser. I decided to take the long way. I needed the night drive to clear my head. I was still in quite an angry, aggrivated state over the whole Erik seeing Lesa thing.
Being somewhat bored and alone at the event, I spent the night there surfing facebook on my android. Then I saw a vauge post from a friend refering to a friend as "E" who had died. Curious.... so I messaged the person to see if it was anyone I knew. Then they replied and told me it was Erik. I was taken quite aback. it was a bit of a shock. Not a devestating shock, but still a shock. I then told the person how we had a falling out, and my condolences, etc. And then she mentioned something about "and if this is the same girl that was found with him, then I am truely sorry." WHAT?!?
So I did the only logical thing, which was to run out into the parking lot, call the person, and fly into hysterics. Was is Lesa? What happened? Was she ok? She didnt have any details, just that police mentioned a 35 year old female with him found dead, and was looking for another Eric for questioning for ID. She was planning on moving in with said person named Eric. At that point, things started getting worse. I so desperately wanted to call her at least, at most drive down to her place myself. But I was still mad at her. And stubborn. I was also afraid that she might still be mad at me, and would take violent offence to interfereing with her. And, a part of me, was also afraid that if I did find her alive, that I may get violent with her, over the stress that was caused. So I called all the people I thought of, who could help. Two friends were out of town. One wasnt available. So I went down to Daveys, one of her, our, favorite places. thankfully, Michelle the bartender was there. I ran in, and explained to her what was going on. My phone was going dead, so I wasnt able to call anyone else... We tried surfing the web, calling contacts in the KC news. Then, Erik's Ex girlfriend called. She was in quite a state. And she was also mentioning the same things Ive heard- found dead with a 35 year old girl, matching Lesa's description. I called the friend she was planning on moving in with, but, Im sorry to say, that I was still in too much of a paniced and frantic state to say anything coherant or polite, which is something I do regret given the circumstances.
Not being able to take the waiting any longer, I knew at that point, I had to find out for myself... to see it for myself. I promised Michelle that I would not do anything drastic, and would come right back to daveys and call her when I got there. The 1st place I stopped was the BBQ place I knew she was working at, which was expectedly closed at that hour. I then checked the bar next door, to see if she was there, which she was not. I then drove down to her house in Parkville. It was the longest drive in my life, and the most frightening. I knocked on the door, loudly, to see if she was home. The door was unlocked, so, I went in. It was the first time I had actualy been inside her house. The place was a wreck. Unpacked boxes, cloaths scattered everywhere, her phone and DL still there, books stacked up in dissaray. Her cat was there, hissing in the corner, and out of food. And no Lesa. It was.... it was like finaly coming to face with this worst case scenario. That this was really happening. It was like chapter 6 in Watchmen, where Roarsarch, searching for the kidnapped girl, walks into the abandoned warehouse, to discover that the girl was already killed, fed to dogs, and that there was no ransom... where he finaly snaps. It was the ultimate facing of the sum of my fears. It was.... so heartbreaking, and terrifying. I made sure to fill up the cat's food and water. And left everything else as I found it. And went back to daveys. Michelle wasnt there, but some of Lesa's friends were, including one that worked for the local KC news station. And.... confirmed what everything was leading up to. Lesa Baumgardner was killed. Investigations still pending as to the circumstances...
There was no note, which left only speculation. Was this some mutual crap they had planned? I knew Lesa was not in the best of emotional states at the time, what with her grandmother passing away literaly days ago. And Erik, I had learned, was on all sorts of anti-depressants, and, as I had recently discovered, had a problem with chronic lieing. I started even panicing.... that could have been ME dead... but then... no... it doesnt make any sense. The Lesa I knew was far too tenacious, stubborn, and proud to ever kill herself. Nor would she allow anyone else to kill themselves, or her. I think I only slept a total of 3 hours that night. I called in to work. In the state I was in, I just couldnt deal with it. I was crying off and on, more than I have in probably my whole life. I was feeling sick, neausous, etc etc.
The next day, I met with friends to talk about it at Mama's 39th St Diner. Later that evening, I opened my place up for visitors. I knew, that in the state I was in, I NEEDED company. not wanted, but NEEDED. Translated- I had to swallow my pride, and admit that I needed help to cope with this, to let people in. And in they came. I was so humbled, flattered, and honoured by the outpouring of condolences and support. It didnt feel condenscending, and I didnt feel like I was pandering or fishing for any sympathy. This was an honest outpouring. And they were her friends too, many of them. It showed how well-loved she was in the city, in the community. And even long distance friends, who I didnt always keep in contact with, sent their condolences. I just didnt know what to say... other than being so thankful and speachless at the support.
It wasnt all positive though. There were some negative troll emails sent by anonmouys individuals. Especialy one, who accused me of being a horrible insensitive person responsible for there... recieved while at work. I called a friend at wichita... and.... that's when I finaly broke down. In the middle of work. I just couldnt stop crying. I couldnt stop saying... over and over again... 'she didnt have to die.' I could have loved her. Yes, if we did have a relationship, it might not have been the most healthy of relationships, but it sure as hell wouldnt have been lethal. And why did Erik have to kill her? Maybe I could have been a better friend and more supportive. And if he had problems, why did he have to drag her down with him?
The worst part of all, was the fact that she died, thinking I hated her. Because she was hanging out with the person who would be her murderer. Ill never forgive myself for that.
At that point, I just couldnt function. I request a week off from work under the circumstances, and quite generously, they gave it to me, no further questions asked. I honestly couldnt eat, couldnt concentrate. I knew then also, that it was time to go back on anti-depressants. They did help.
Things really didnt quite seem to be over, until I was able to view the body at the funeral. It was in Humansville/Boliver, her hometown, a small pitstop off the state highway in rural missouri. They put her in one of her favorite dresses. They even had a small beanie baby kitten there with her, that looked just like hers. And she had what looked like a smirk on her face. That little smirk of hers I always found so adorable. It was beautiful. Just, beautiful. And then the family came in, which was awkward, given that I was the only person from outside the family who managed to make the trip. So there I was, everyone gathering and staring at me like I was an alient from another planet, placed in the uncomfortable position of trying to explain what happened, when I didnt know all the details, but still knew more than anyone there did. I did what I could to represent everyone in KCMO. It was a grand ceremony (even if she might have disagreed with the music selection, lol). She was buried next to her mother, father, and grandparents. And that was that. Erik's ceremony was friday, but, given the circumstances, the family wanted it a private ceremony. For the best, I suppose.
It would still take months before I was completely "over it." One might say that I never will be. And I suppose I would answer, that the day that I get over it, is the day that I will have a problem being human. Throughout the years there would be speculation, mourning, talk, confessions, regrets, memberances, fond annecdotes, bonding, etc. I was told that she was shot in the back, and he shot himself in the head. And, much to my.... sadness... it wasnt a quick death for her. There are only two scenarios that make any sense to me. 1). Erik, haivng one of his fits, called her and threatened to kill himself if she didnt come over. She then would have thrown a fit, trashed her place in anger, then would have drove down to his place, to either call his bluff or talk him out of it, and would have failed. 2.) They went back to his place after drinks. She was running hot and cold (as she would be want to do after a few long island ice teas), and he just got frustrated with her, and shot her dead. Either way, it still brings no satisfaction. What's done is done, and cannot be undone.
A few months ago, I went in to the BBQ place she worked at when she was killed. The topic casualy came up. They mentioned how saddened they were to hear the news, how much they enjoyed her company, and how they mentioned a sketchy person that kept walking in on her while working, harassing her, and not leaving her alone. Which, I can conclude, could only be Erik.
On her birthday, I drove down to her gravesite. Because, I just had to see her tombstone. It was as hot that day as it was the last time I was there. And it was such a beautiful sight. Peaceful, tranquil, with pleanty of flowers, so I know it was being tended after. And I talk with her, for the 1st time since that day last year, when I left flowers at her house, and sobbed for forgiveness. But in a way, I felt that, seeing her tombstone, and seeing it looked after, brought a sense of clousre to it all. Like, I really could get on with life and living (not for lack of trying, of course). Now, that Im out of the job I was at for 8 years, in many ways, it does feel like life is radicaly different than it was a year ago.
But anyway, its over. Ill never forget her. She was the cleverest, quirkiest, most beautiful, well dressed, well cultured, most musicaly tasteful and artistic person I had ever met. And just had all the qualities that... just made me fall in love with it. I made the decision to fall in love with her. And, as cliche'd as it may seem, Id do it all again. But... I just wish I was strong enough to be a better person for her... a better friend. Because if I was, I cant help but feel she would still be alive.
But, as I said as I left the graveyard... Its time for me to go.
I miss you
I love you.