Me(moir). It’s All About Me – Or is it?
by Joyce A. Lefler
My past wasn’t sexy. It was messy, tedious, and gut-wrenchingly horrific. There were moments of euphoria and joy, but mostly it was sad, made me cry, and caused me to curl into an angled ball. Why would anyone want to read about that?
I hoped that one day, before I died, my daughter would. I needed her to believe I had nothing to do with the murder of her disabled baby brother.
Marilyn Buehler, my attorney’s wife, instructed me, “Write an outline of the events and the dates as they happened. Fill it with narratives of what you witnessed, but more importantly, how you felt when your life was destroyed.” We were in my house, going through stacks of tattered cardboard boxes overflowing with police reports, eyewitness depositions, a grand jury transcript, psychologists’ evaluations, victim impact statements, plus transcripts from three trials.
I followed her advice. It took me two years to organize the files into chronological order and write an outline. The documents filled 10 five-inch-thick black notebooks in my honey oak bookshelf. As I went through them, I studied those papers as if they were holy scriptures from the Book of Job. I needed to make sense of had what happened and why.
I had no secrets to hide.
Analyzing the points and proofs on paper stirred up the nightmares and PTSD. Terrifying dreams haunted me in my sleep and invaded my peace during the day. These terrific assaults to my brain depicted my two young children being ravaged by rabid dogs, violently shaken, their bones broken by attacking alligators, or pulverized by granite boulders falling from angry skies. These demonic dream visions inevitably ended before I knew whether I saved my children – or they died.
I needed to expose what my children and I experienced to the world. My passion for writing bloomed. The story developed into a gritty, raw, and real memoir. I made no attempt to cover up who I was back then, the mistakes I made, or who I was striving to become.
I took classes, attended conferences, and joined writing groups attended by fellow authors who weren’t afraid to teach through their critiques. My stories grew as I learned the craft through each polish and insufferable, innumerable edits. I was forced to face my own emotional anguish, reconcile myself to the damage, the disillusionment of lies, and the accusations by those who chose to deceive.
I sought the truth and I found the answers. They weren’t always what I wanted to hear. I had been guilty of being naïve.
Writing became my sacred healing cove where waves crashed on lava stone. As my wounds opened, I gasped with the salt and cold. Coral dust cleansed and soothed them closed.
It took Joyce Lefler 15 years to begin and finish From Miracle to Murder: Justice for Adam because her save-the-children nightmares only visit her when summer turns into fall. She used to shove these nightmares into hermetically sealed barbed wire boxes inside her mind. They terrified her. She thought they threatened her sanity. She understands them better now and welcomes them as old friends. They contain the memories that fuel the stories she writes in the true crime/memoir genre. Joyce is a retired registered nurse and bereavement counselor. She is an advocate against abuse, a spokesperson for Geri’s law, and a facilitator for Parents of Murdered Children. Please connect with Joyce via http://bit.ly/MiracletoMurder (Amazon); http://bit.ly/AsLongAsIBreathe (blog); http://bit.ly/fryedmarbles (website); and/or http://bit.ly/CastingPearl (advocacy project).