And here are a few of the photos she took of Jonathan & I that day:
After pictures, we headed to Rizzo's for an authentic Italian dinner with our family on our last night in town, and then headed back to my Aunt's home and we packed our things so we'd have more time to visit with all of my family before we headed back out to the airport to board our flight home the next day. Saturday morning, my cousin Camille and her husband Dan, and their two kiddos, Logan & Livia, my cousin Michael and his pup Duke, and cousin Autumn and her fiance Bill, and my aunt & DJ all hung out and took advantage of our last few hours together over some homemade Spinach quiche, fresh berries, apple salad, and bread. Like I said...my aunt knows how to whip up some tastiness in the kitchen :) Then, we sadly said our goodbyes, and Jonathan and I headed to Pittsburgh along those dreaded windy roads. I drove and surprisingly didn't get sick this time - kicked back in the plane, watched Keeping Up With The Kardashians, and landed home-sweet-home in Houston 3 hours later.
Next stop: McAllen, Texas on Wednesday so stay tuned, but before I go, one question...
'cause I do. :)
Thank you, Canadian Centre for Child Protection, for the invitation to present, your friendship, your hospitality, and an experience I'll most certainly never forget. It was nice, eh? ;)
It was only a few weeks after this week a year ago that I got that dreaded phone call that Bradford had committed suicide in his jail cell - one of the most awful moments of my life. Pure shock, heartache and devastation are the only words I can still use to describe that day. How many more obstacles in this journey could I handle? I would say I questioned my faith the most during this time. Flowers and words of encouragement arrived at my door non-stop, and it would make me smile for a little while, but the pain was still there. There was NOTHING anyone could say or do to make the pain go away. For a few weeks, I had a major pity-party but one day woke up and came to my senses and realized I couldn't let the unfortunate death of Bradford get me down...once again, I'd have to jump back on my feet and remember why I'm here on this Earth, and I needed to use my voice and help others. I couldn't let anyone down, I needed to continue to fulfill my purpose.
Fast-forward to Crime Victims' Rights Week 2011 "Reshaping The Future, Honoring The Past" - what an awesome "theme" for this year! I have now accomplished and overcome so many obstacles, and strive to continue to do so on a daily basis. My attack is something that happened going on 21 years ago, but changed my life and perspective on crime, forever. I have done many speaking engagements, and met many people and continue to feel inspired to share my story and know I am making a difference, which makes me feel truly blessed. I know I am doing what I was called to do, and that is an indescribable feeling on so many different levels.
In March of this year, I was invited to attend and present alongside Detective Cromie in Austin for the annual TAASA conference, and what an extraordinary experience that was! I became a TAASA member last year, and this was the first conference I had ever attended, and it was full of amazingly insightful experiences. I went to several workshops throughout the days I was there, and learned so much about being a better victim advocate and learned more about the unfortunately "real" statistics on sexual assaults in our state. All of the information I learned just added more fuel to my fire, and has me striving to continue fighting for others and speaking out.