Dear Ms. Feverfew –
About two months ago, Princess P. was snoozing upstairs in her bedroom and I was down here in my office doing whatever it is that I do. From the garage, I heard a loud sound, like a door slamming shut. It startled me, as Mr. Amazing Man was away at work and the pool lady wasn’t scheduled to come until the next day. However, I didn’t think much of it until a loud banging came from the laundry room.
Then I thought something of it.
While our neighborhood is normally an extremely safe place (like one of the safest in the state), there had been a spate of unsolved home invasions over the previous three weeks where the yokels would break in, tie up the people that were home and then proceed to rob them of all valuables. I was fairly certain I had locked all the doors leading to the outside, but I wasn’t absolutely certain. Then I heard some more banging from the laundry room and I sprang into action.
For a split second, I thought, “Go grab Princess P. and then run for it!” But then I realized that to get upstairs to get her and then get out of the house would alert whomever was in my laundry room (if there was anyone). Essentially, there was no safe way to get to her and get out of the house. Immediately, my next thought was, “Then Melynda, you had better get the handgun and stand your ground.”
And so I did. As I dashed by the kitchen, I grabbed the phone, dialed 911, and put it on speaker phone so my hands would be free. Then I pulled the handgun out of its safe location, chambered a round, and cautiously made my way to the base of the stairs that led to Princess P’s room. And there I waited, all the time talking with dispatch.
911, what’s your emergency? “I live in BWB and I think I heard someone in my garage and laundry room.”
BWB? What’s your address? I gave it to him, along with my name. Have you been out there to check, ma’am? “No sir. I didn’t want to open the door to the laundry room on the chance that someone might be in there.”
That’s understandable with what’s been going on recently over there in BWB. You did the right thing by calling us. Where are you now? “In my living room at the base of the stairs that lead to my daughter’s room.”
Is she home? “Yes, she’s 17 months old and sleeping right now.”
Do you have a weapon in the house, ma’am? “Yes sir, I have a hand gun with me.”
Is it loaded? “I believe I chambered a round, sir, and the safety is off with a full magazine.”
OK – I will let the responding officers know you are armed. “Thank you.” And then we waited with him periodically letting me know where the officers were.
Within a few minutes, I could see them out the front window. “Sir, I just saw them pull up. What do you want me to do?” Just stay put until they have made sure everything is clear. If you want, you can put the safety back on your weapon now. “OK.”
Through the sliding glass doors, I could watch them circle around back of the house, past the lanai that encloses our pool, and over to the gardenia bushes by my bedroom window. They made their way back around then came in through the garage door and into the laundry room. Nothing looked amiss to them, even though none of us could explain the noises. They checked everything thoroughly and assured me I had done the right thing by calling and by being prepared to defend myself and my daughter in our home.
Strangely, I was calm through this entire ordeal – like preternaturally calm. When Mr. Amazing Man got home from work later that evening and I told him about my day, he asked me, “Were you scared?” I told him I was when I first heard the sounds in the laundry room, but not once I made the decision to stand my ground and protect Princess P. with lethal force if necessary. “Do you think you would have actually shot an intruder?” he asked. “Absolutely, without at doubt,” I responded. “I have already lost one daughter. I am not willing to risk losing another one.” My mind was perfectly clear and perfectly decided that morning: No one was going to get past those stairs to reach my daughter, and I mean no one.
In the weeks since this incident, I have had a lot of time to replay the scenario in my mind and digest its meaning. I have come to see this event is one of the things that woke the tiger in me and unleashed a fierceness with the Truth in my life. It came 19 years to late for you and I, but that morning I finally found the courage to stand up for myself and my children in a way I never thought I possibly could. I didn’t run and hide in a closet. I didn’t duck underneath my desk. I didn’t allow other people to make decisions for me. I made a decision to protect my daughter and I acted on it. And ever since then, something has shifted in me. I think this is why, after all these years I was finally able to “out” myself on Facebook, why I finally have done the hard work to find a therapist who is at least trying to “get” what adoption means to me, why I am willing to stand up for myself to my mother.
I don’t know why exactly I am telling you this story. What I do know is that I owe you an apology for not being that kind of mother for you, for not fighting for you, for trusting other people’s advice and opinions even when it didn’t feel right to me. I should have chambered a proverbial round and stood my ground for you, too. I hope you are able to find that resivor of courage in your own life before you have to suffer too much heartache and sorrow. It is somewhere inside of you, I promise – just keep looking for it.
P.S. Looks like a young mother did just what I was ready to do: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-57352344-504083/okla-teen-mom-asks-911-for-permission-fatally-shoots-intruder-on-new-years-eve/ (Edited to add this on 01-12-12)