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Thank you! I needed this today 😊
That post was so beautifully written! What happened to your friend was awful but I'm glad she is ok. I could never even imagine something like that happening to me or someone I know. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you for your kind message. It really was like a horrible dream I just couldn’t wake up from, but it’s gotten better with time and I know it could have turned out much worse.
And you’re welcome! I don’t often share too many personal things on here, but I’ve learned it helps me to talk about it.
When I was in the 7th grade, something happened that turned my world upside down. I remember I had just gotten home from school when the phone rang. I picked up, it was my Aunt Jackie. “Emily, there’s been an accident. It’s Kayleigh…” After that, the rest of her words became muffled; she sounded as if she was far away. I only heard certain words after that - unresponsive, coma, brain surgery… The whole thing felt so surreal. How could my best friend, always so alive and vivacious, be lying in a hospital bed in a coma? Trying to picture it was impossible.
I’m thankful to say that we all got through it, as a family. After all, calling her my best friend doesn’t really do it justice - our grandparents are friends, our parents grew up together, so she’s more of a little sister or cousin to me than just a friend. Anyway - she’s made a full recovery, save for some learning disabilities. But for a long time, that was one of the worst days of my life. That is, until a year ago, when once again, life as I knew it was turned over on its head.
It was an unremarkable Wednesday morning. I was so ready to be done with my nannying job and had so much to look forward to. My job was ending in a week, my best friend was coming to Georgia to visit, and then I was going off to Augusta to start grad school. On this particular morning, I woke up earlier than my alarm, so I spent some time lounging in bed.
As usual, I checked my phone. One new message from Kayleigh: “Hey babe, what town do you live in again?” from 11PM the night before. I smiled and replied, figuring her boss at the bar she worked at in Boston was asking questions about her upcoming trip. It couldn’t have been more than a minute or so later when my mom walked in my room. “Emily, what happened to Kayleigh? What’s wrong?”
At that moment, I was genuinely confused. I told her nothing was wrong. She had just texted me less than 12 hours earlier. What could be wrong? I immediately got on Facebook and saw a status from Kayleigh’s older brother that made my heart drop.
"Please pray for my little sister." And, in reading through the comments: "She was attacked and stabbed 9 times in Boston last night. She is in stable, but critical condition."
My blood ran cold as I jumped out of bed and into my mom’s room. “It’s bad, Mommy, it’s really bad,” is all I could get out. My mother was already dialing Kim (Kayleigh’s mom) on her cellphone, but of course, we got no answer. Luckily, my mom had Kim’s boyfriend’s number and he picked up.
We found out that she had been attacked from behind going into her apartment building in south Boston. She tried giving him her cellphone and money, but he told her he didn’t want that, that he was there for her. He had been following her home from the T stop and he pushed his way into her apartment building and began stabbing her. No, he did not sexually assault her. Yes, he is in custody. We don’t know if he was someone she knew…. Though so many of my questions were answered, thousands more began popping up in my head.
I didn’t begin to cry. I didn’t get angry. I didn’t feel much of anything. I only remember feeling very cold and shaking uncontrollably. I escaped into my head and thoughts, where I feel most comfortable. Would she still be coming to visit me in a week? No, Emily, don’t be ridiculous. Well, she’s going to be ok, right? Another ridiculous question, of course she’s going to be okay. She has to be okay. When am I going to be able to call and speak with her? I need to call and just hear her voice… Please…
Those were some of the first thoughts that went through my head. I spent the rest of the day and week ahead walking through life like a zombie. What happened to Kayleigh consumed my thoughts. Thankfully, we learned pretty quickly that she was going to make a full recovery, at least physically. She had a collapsed lung, many puncture wounds in her sides and chest, and a couple wounds on her face that would require plastic surgery to fix. However, the real challenge would be healing the emotional and mental scars. Once again, I could not picture my spirited and vibrant friend going through something so horrific. Kayleigh is undoubtedly the strongest and most resilient person I know, but how could anyone deal with and move on from such an unthinkable act of violence?
Friday night, three days post-attack, I got what I consider to be my favorite text that I’ve ever received. It was Kayleigh - “I’m ok, babe. I’ll call you soon.” I began to cry, but this time, they were tears of relief. Those three days felt like years - and while they were filled with nothing but news of Kayleigh from family and friends, actually hearing directly from her was a godsend.
As promised, she did call me. Our conversation was brief. Her voice was hoarse from being intubated at the hospital. She immediately began rattling off where her wounds were - almost as if she was expecting me to ask, as so many others had over the past few days. It felt cold and robotic, but I didn’t care. I was talking to Kayleigh. She would make it through this. Once again, she proved to be a fighter.
I didn’t actually get to see Kayleigh in person until 10 months after the attack, since she lives in Maine and I live in Georgia. We’ve always spoken on the phone at least once a week, but a part of me knew I would not be 100% ok until I could see her and touch her, and know for certain that she would be alright.
Over those 10 months, I struggled a lot with PTSD and feelings of guilt. I still feel so silly talking about myself in all of this. After all, it wasn’t me that was attacked. But I also can’t deny the whole situation affected me deeply. I lived in Boston for 4 years, and never once did I feel unsafe. I think of all the times I walked home from a bar late at night by myself… Why couldn’t it have been me instead? Why did it have to be Kayleigh? The summer before this all happened, she called me and expressed wanting to live in Boston for the summer, except her parents weren’t keen on the idea. “Why not??” I said. “You’re an adult. You have the means. You should do it if you want to!” I wonder if things would have been different if I hadn’t encouraged her. I guess not, Kayleigh has always been very stubborn. Still, it’s those sorts of thoughts I have when I lie awake at night ruminating over it all.
When I did finally see her, she picked me up at the airport. She got out of her jeep, and it took everything in me not to run and jump on her. She was real. She was ok. So finally, I was ok, too.
Kayleigh was never very modest. She never had to be - as a D1 athlete she has always stayed in shape. Would she be different now, because of her scars? Apparently not, which was a relief. (I know it’s probably selfish, but I hoped more than anything she would be the same old Kayleigh, although I know that is impossible). Sitting in her room on her bed, she changed right in front of me as always, but this time, she took the time to point out her scars. She showed me the one from the deepest wound, the one that punctured her lung. The other one that barely missed her heart, the faded scars on her face, the scar on her arm she actually highlighted with a tattoo…. Again, it was all very matter-of-fact. But I sat quietly, listened, and looked. I think it was just as important for her to show me as it was for me to see.
After spending Memorial Day Weekend with her, most of my fears have been put to rest. She is undoubtedly changed by this experience. Who wouldn’t be? God knows it’s affected our entire family. At one point when we were at a party, someone threw a zippo lighter down on the coffee table. It made a sound, like metal on metal, I guess. “Whoa, that’s weird and unexpected. That was a trigger,” Kayleigh said to me as we sat on the couch together. I just smiled and squeezed her hand. She is in therapy and probably still has a lot of work ahead of her, but if anyone can do it, Kayleigh can.
I’m still having a hard time convincing myself of this, but maybe this whole thing was a blessing in disguise. By identifying the man who did this and putting him behind bars, I am sure Kayleigh saved many lives. The man who did this had murdered a young woman the night before he attacked my friend, and attacked two others in addition to her. While he is still awaiting trial, he is off the streets and no longer a danger to anyone else.
So, here we are, a year later. I’ll admit I’ve been mopey and somber all week. And I’m dreading the moment today when I get a notification that my timehop app is ready, but all in all, I have a lot to be thankful for. Kayleigh is ok. She has inspired so many people with her story, probably saved lives, and is hoping to write a book in order to continue to inspire and help others. Though she is two years younger than me, she is my hero. I am so incredibly proud of her character and strength. And I am thankful that we still have many years ahead to look forward to, and so many more memories to make.
Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Amy Lord, who just over a year ago was murdered by the man who did this to Kayleigh. If any of you have actually read this and made it to this point, please keep her family in your prayers as they deal with the anniversary of her death. I think of her often, as well, since it so easily could have been Kayleigh, too.
Thanks y’all for letting me vent. I think I wrote this more for myself, as I found journaling to be hugely therapeutic after this event. But if I could inspire even just one person with Kayleigh’s story, then I’d be happy with that. God bless you all, and be safe xo
11, 17, 23 I love your blog by the way!!! :)
11. What would you name your daughter if you had one? I love the names Olivia and Tenley! But I dk if I like them together so hopefully I have two lol
17. Would you rather have an American accent or British accent? Since I live in America, I guess it’d be pretty cool to have a British accent :)
23. What language, beside your native language, would you like to be fluent in? I actually used to be quite fluent in Spanish, but I haven’t used it in years so I’m really rusty. The practical side of me wants to say Mandarin Chinese, but my family’s German and Lithuanian so either of those would be really cool.
Thank you!! xo
Mouthwash doesn't make you drunk, that's a myth. So rest assured if you're afraid giving a homeless person mouthwash will somehow assist them into a sinful state of drunkenness that they will have a stomachache and fresh breath, but nothing worse than that.
see but that’s misleading though. you can absolutely become inebriated - heck you can get drunk off hand sanitizer and vanilla extract. you’re right in the sense that it is very unpleasant and will definitely lead to a stomachache, if not worse, but there is a reason you won’t find it at an inpatient alcohol rehab facility. i even checked with my dad (who is a doctor) and he says he has many patient stories (which he obviously can’t tell me), so i don’t think it’s accurate to write it off as a myth.
all that being said, the size of a bottle of mouthwash that would fit in that bag probably wouldn’t do much. and the whole concept is a great idea! after living in two big cities with a large homeless population, it’s always good to learn more ways to help :)