Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Letter to Juliette Gilbert on the 4th Anniversary of Her Death

Dear Juliette,

Today is the 4 year anniversary of your death.

So many lives have been impacted by your life and death. You certainly have taught us well. In a society that demands we never give up and that we keep fighting for our children, you gave us another slant. No loving, nurturing parent really “gives up” on their child. However, there may come a time when we are emotionally drained or a better term would be, that we are “emotionally bankrupt.” Sometimes the fight is too much. How many times I have told parents this...and it is because of you, dear friend.

In a typical week, people from many countries seek out your name on the Internet. They land right here! These people are from the U.S. the Philippines, Brazil, Russia, Canada, U.K. Australia, Venezuela, New Zealand, Turkey, Taiwan, South Africa, Japan, France, Germany, Pakistan and many other locations. They may be curious, seeking answers, fearful or frustrated with their own situations.

Shame on any Domestic Violence Counselor who judged you and did not believe you. I later learned from your friends and colleagues that you had asked for help much longer than a year and a half before you left the U.S. with your son. Shame on a court system that would not allow your son to send you a Mother's Day card. Shame on those who instructed you to jump through every legal hoop with the false hope or “dangled carrot” you would see your son again. 2 years and 2 months later, you were still waiting...in agony and grief. Why weren't you and your son allowed to see one another, in a supervised, monitored setting? I think of this often and how many people who were supposed to help, failed your son and you. Why didn't they take positive steps to incorporate you back into your son's life? He must have missed you so.

Because of you Juliette, we take notice. We educate more, love one another deeper and realize every person- regardless of who he or she is, has a “breaking point.” Sometimes, people can just be pushed too far. People now check their own behaviors to ensure they are not contributing in some way, to the alienation of a child. They are more aware if they are beginning to experience emotional exhaustion, depression and a host of other health related matters.

The one major thing I hope people remember about you- which I am sure they know now, is that you were not really the “Fugitive Mom.” You were simply a mom who loved her child. Who would risk her own freedom to protect him. Who acted after so many “professionals” let you down. The harsh, notoriety and spotlight were not you because you were too gentle, nurturing and loving. The public Juliette who was diced to bits was so different from the genuine mother who read her son bedtime stories and had hopes and dreams any mother would harbor.

After your death, I received a disturbing email. The “therapist” told me had I “taught” mothers to not build their whole lives around their children, perhaps your death would not have happened. First, I hope this “therapist” never counsels anyone in my family. Second, I hope she has learned that our pre-natal history, labor, delivery and maternal love is not something to be “taught”- it is Mother Nature at its finest. We cannot turn it off and on like a light switch. If we love our children with everything in us, how could we not build our world around them? None of us truly know what happened in your last few seconds of life Juliette, but God knew you lived and died loving your son. After all, He chose you to be this child's mother. He understood your pain and I have no doubt He embraced you.

Your life and death affected many people in positive ways. You have given us the finest education. In a world where people doubted and judged you, I believed you. We only wanted our children to be free from abuse. We certainly never aspired to be Super Heroes, Superstars or household names, did we? Being moms and being in the lives of our children was all we ever wanted.