Still Standing After All the Tears
The Day You Can Never Imagine
It was a sunny morning in August of 2004 as I headed home from a breakfast meeting. When I pulled into the garage, I was surprised to see my husband’s car sitting on his side of the garage. It was a Tuesday so Rich should have been at work. As I stepped from my car, Rich emerged from the house. The look on his face told me that something was terribly wrong.
“Jordan’s* been shot. He finally shot her, Val.”
My brain struggled to comprehend what my husband had said. Was it possible that Jordan had been shot? Rich said that he shot her, and I knew who he was referring to – her ex-boyfriend who I call “The Guy.”
I shook my head in defiance, “No, no, no.”
Rich put his arms around me, but I broke free and whimpered,
“No. No. No.”
If I got into the car, then all of this would be real. He closed my car door and gently steered me toward the passenger door of his car.
Intensive Care Unit
Jordan’s chest rose and fell, as oxygen was pushed into her lungs with the help of a breathing tube. Intravenous tubes protruded from her arms and hand. Her face appeared swollen to me, but she looked peaceful, perhaps more so than she had in some time. I kissed my 18 year-old daughter and held her hand, tears dripping from my face.
The surgeon arrived shortly after I did to explain the emergency surgery performed the night before.
“She suffered a GSW to the buttock.”
“She had a GS-what?” I asked.
“A gunshot wound to the buttock. The bullet entered just below her pelvic bone, barely missing her tailbone. It entered from the back, but there is no exit wound.”
“You mean the bullet is still inside her?”
“Why didn’t you get it out?” I asked.
He looked at me as if I had asked the question in Chinese.
“You don’t understand. Gunshot wounds to the abdomen are fatal. We spent four hours trying to stop the bleeding, and repairing vessels and veins. We weren’t trying to get the bullet out; we were trying to save her life.”
The surgeon explained that the bullet had entered from the back at an upward angle next to her tailbone. It traversed her abdomen causing massive internal bleeding. An incision was made from her breastbone all the way down to her pubic bone. My daughter had been filleted open like a fish. The significant blood loss required transfusions of several units of packed red blood cells. Aside from vascular damage, she had an injury to her internal iliac vein, her left ovary and the small bowel. I would come to find out later that the bullet barely missed a main artery; an injury that would have caused her to bleed out before she made it to the operating room.
“She’s lucky to be alive,” he said.
Mommy Will You Pray With Me?
Jordan had refused to talk about the night she was shot. I was desperate to bond with her, to understand how she ended up in that situation, and to let her know that I would help her to put her life back together. The bonding that I had so hoped would happen during our 24-hour days together wasn’t happening, although she wanted me in the room every second and insisted that my chair/makeshift bed be right up against her hospital bed. One night as we lay side by side in the dark, Jordan whispered,
“Mommy, will you pray with me?”
Jordan wasn’t the type to show her true feelings or for a very long time, her soft side; over the past three years she had done her level best to become a tough girl. Mommy was what she still called me when she had a tender moment or more recently, when she wanted something. She had never asked me to pray with her before that day, nor has she since.
I’m not comfortable praying out loud; it’s just not something I have done very much. That night I prayed with every fiber of my being. I held my daughter’s hand and cried silent tears. I thanked God for sparing her life and bringing her back to me.
When I finished praying she told me the story. It was the story that the detective relayed. And it was the story that she would tell the prosecutor’s office when they visited the hospital to take her statement.
I don’t recall exactly what I said in the prayer that night, but I do recall how I felt after – peace. The truth was out and everything was going to be okay, or so I thought.
The three years leading up to Jordan’s shooting had been pretty difficult. Jordan went from a popular 15 year old girl who got good grades, played select sport, sang in the school choir, went to youth group and had close relationships with her family, to a girl that we barely knew.
That night, holding my daughter’s hand and praying like a mad woman was the first night that I had felt hope in nearly three years. Little did I know, that the three year ride was about to turn into 13 years on the Roller Coaster From Hell.
The Drug Addiction Beast
I don’t know when the drug addiction Beast moved in with Jordan. It’s possible that it happened when she met The Guy, or maybe her Beast didn’t fully take control of her until after The Guy shot Jordan.
We may never know, and it probably doesn’t matter. The fact is that the girl who had it all is addicted to heroin. Worse than that, is that I am powerless to stop her; powerless against her Beast.
There were many days leading up to the shooting that I thought were the worst days of my life. Each situation with Jordan seemed worse than the last. Certainly sitting in ICU waiting for my daughter to wake from life-saving surgery would go down in the record books as the worst day of my life. It wasn’t.
Years, riding the Roller Coast From Hell, with my own Beast at my side – those were the worst days; the worst months; the worst years. My Beast convinced me that it was my fault; that as Jordan’s mother I was somehow responsible for her life spiraling out of control. It was my fault that she was a drug addict, and if I really loved her, I would find a way to make her better.
Still Standing After All the Tears
After riding the Roller Coaster From Hell for nearly 13 years, I got off. I walked away from the roller coaster while Jordan was still lost in the belly of her Beast. My codependent / enabling behavior wasn’t helping her, and it was destroying me. It took everything I had to give myself permission to matter; to walk away. It was excruciating, and it was freeing.
There is nothing that I want more in this world than to have my daughter back, healthy and whole. But sometimes you have to live that serenity prayer and figure out what you can and cannot control.
I was at my lowest point, down on the proverbial matt with my own Beast on top of me, his hands around my throat when I heard the call to stand up!
Never a day goes by that I don’t think about Jordan, pray or hope that one day she will be standing over her Beast. Until then, I am Still Standing After All the Tears.
Valerie Silveira is an award-winning author, international speaker and Beast slayer. Through the devastation of losing her daughter over and over to the addiction Beast, and finally losing her to a senseless murder, Valerie empowers others to stand up and fight for their lives. She is the creator of Nine Actions to Battle Your Beast and the Still Standing Sisterhood membership program. Valerie uses her books and Sisterhood to guide women in their quest for happiness, peace, and purpose. She builds up women of courage who stand strong against any Beast in their lives.
Until her death in August 2016, Valerie chose to call her daughter Jamie, “Jordan.”