pieces of me: summer 2003

I think it began in the summer of 2003.

Maybe it started before then.

I don’t know.

I can definitely point to 3 life altering events that happened beginning in the summer and continuing through the fall of 2003.

This is the first

Summer 2003:

I walked in on a burglary in progress in our home.

It was the middle of the afternoon. I think I had taken my sister to the car dealership to pick up her car, or drop it off. I was gone not more than 45 minutes. I took our dog Ben with me and then I was going to head home and do some painting in our house.

I was getting my paint supplies ready in the garage (we had an alley entry detached garage) and then walked towards the house. I noticed that our cat, Murphy had snuck out the back window that was cracked open. That was the first indication that something was wrong, but I didn’t notice it immediately.

I walked to the back door, unlocked it, and Ben ran in front of me. He was trained to not walk through doors before us, so this was the second indication that something was wrong.  Then he started growling. Ben barked a lot, but her never growled. This was the third indication that something was wrong.  I held him back and took a look into our kitchen…drawers were open and things were out of place.

I backed away from the house, went to the garage to get a rope to keep Ben with me, and called my husband. By this time I noticed that the screen was off the back window that the cat had escaped from and the window was open wide. Yes, I should have called 911 first, but I thought maybe something was wrong with Ryan and he had to break into the house.

He informed me that he was OK. I hung up the phone and called 911. I remember my voice being shaky and saying, “Yes, I think there is a burglary in progress at my home.”  I stayed in the backyard near the garage and waited for them to show up. It seemed like forever, but they were there in less than 3 minutes.

An officer came through the back gate, gun drawn, and approached me. They asked me a few questions and told me to stay put. Another officer had gone in through the front door, which was  now open. (It had not been open when I drove by the front of the house only a few minutes before)

The burglars took some large LL Bean totes that I had in the front guest bedroom and filled them with electronics and cash.  They had been in our bedroom (which was towards the back of the house) when I opened the back door.  The officers found one of our butcher knives either in our bedroom or living room (I can’t remember which now). They had used it to cut cable cords, but could have used it as a weapon had I gone into the house.

The burglars had left through the front door while I was in the backyard waiting for the police to come. A couple of months later they were caught. They had been burglarizing houses during the day by ringing the doorbell to see if anybody was home and entering through cracked windows, unlocked doors, etc. They were pawning or selling what they found and using the money for drugs.  It was a young man and woman.  The woman was 17 and pregnant.  They also had a young baby.

At the time, I just dealt with it. Did what I needed for the police and kept thinking how thankful I was that nobody got hurt. I felt sorry for the girl, her baby, and unborn child.

I asked Ryan to either get an alarm or another dog that could stay with me when he went hunting every weekend that fall. In November we had Oak flown out to Denver from our breeder and friend in Idaho. She was my constant companion from that Thanksgiving until last May.

What I didn’t deal with was the sense of violation I felt. I struggle with feeling safe…especially when I am alone. I never felt that way before this happened.

I started to feel fear.

home is…feeling the fear and doing it anyway.