My name is Nancy Peters Horneman and last year something awful happened that wasn't supposed to. On January 1, 1999, after 15 years of abuse, I was finally able to make the break from my abusive spouse. I did it for my children, Stephanie, age 4 and Gus, age 2. I just wanted to give them a better life, a life without fear and pain. August 15, 1999, during a court mandated unsupervised visitation, my estranged husband and my children's father, as a last act of abuse smothered our precious babies and then hung himself. We quickly found out that he had planned this for a month and had planned on taking me also, but a call to 911 saved me, it was too late for my babies. I grieve the fact that not only did this happen to me, but also that there was another murder/suicide just a few short days after this involving as estranged spouse and the children. There have been many more since that time, I pray for the days when this type of thing stops happening.
My Stephanie was a gentle, intelligent, and loving child with blessed gifts of vision. She accepted the Lord Jesus into her heart just a few days before her death and shared with me that she "was going to see Jesus in Heaven real soon". Once while we were preparing for a short vacation to Texas in July Stephanie let me know with great certainty that we were going "to see Christmas lights in Texas". Sure enough, as the evening darkness set in on the ranch in Texas she pointed out the Christmas lights hanging over the fence near the barn and said "See Mommy, I told you we'd see Christmas lights". My baby Gus was a loving and gentle little boy full of life and always ready to give hugs and sloppy wet kisses at a moment's notice. He was a caring and giving child who always ran for Kleenex when another child was crying and gave hugs and encouragement to help them through their rough times. His first few steps were memorable. One evening Gus was fighting his sister for possession of her Winnie Pooh chair when she finally yelled at him to leave her alone. Gus got up on his two little feet and ran out of the room. Stephanie and I realized with amazement that he was not just walking, but running for the first time. We went to follow him. As we went around the corner, Gus backtracked and quickly sat down in Stephanie's Pooh chair with a big grin and waited for us. He knew exactly what he was doing, what a funny time that was.
I am grateful to be left with the blessed memories of my babies that no one can take away. I am, unfortunately, 42 years old and have lost my only two children at an age where bearing another may be an impossibility. I, however, now continue my recovery from the abuse and struggle through the grief for myself because I truly believe the words from a favorite song my daughter used to sing "...God has a plan for you, he gives you the tools to make it come true....". There must be a reason I was left behind. Maybe it was for the time I shared my story with Women in Distress which helped someone else made the break and did it differently than I did. Maybe it was to help the judge who was handling my separation now handle abuse cases differently because of what happened. Maybe it was for my early plea in a press conference begging for the abuse to stop. Maybe it is for my dream to soon speak out against spousal and child abuse in a public forum.
It has been almost a year now and I count my blessings, they are many. I had two beautiful children for a short time, I have wonderful caring family and friends, I have a very strong faith and an excellent caring church, I am blessed with the knowledge that my babies are eternally safe and loved and are waiting for me to join them in Heaven, what a joyous reunion that will be. For now, though, I must continue my recovery and journey through the grief and continue my search for the plan God has saved me for and await my reunion with my Precious Stephanie and Baby Gus.
Please make the time to share a hug with your children or another loved one - please don't wait, you may never have another chance again. I am sending a hug to everyone who is reading this. Time does ease the pain, for the most part it does get a little better. I know you may not believe it right now, but it does.
May God be with you.
Nancy Peters Horneman