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  • Elizabeth Billingsley

Everyday I am Thankful to be Alive


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Hello everyone!

You are probably wondering why I titled today's blog like I did.

Please allow me to explain. I am thankful to be alive and I have a specific reason for that.

As those who follow my blogs and have read my **book know, I was in an abusive marriage for 3 years. I had separated from my husband, Jeff and decided going back was not an option. The night he called me to tell me he was going to take his life so "I would have peace" could have turned out very differently. I say that because after I hung up with him and called the police, I actually entertained the thought of returning to our home to try and talk him out of it and get him help. Yes, you might think that was a crazy thought to have but I did love him, I tried anyway. What I have not said is that right before I hung up with him, I heard two gunshots. Gunshots are unmistakable and they sound like they are in a tunnel over the phone. I honestly thought I was calling the police to my home where he was already dead.

I sat stunned in the bathroom of my parents home for about 10 or 15 minutes calculating how long it would take me to get to him and wondering if he would come to our door if I knocked or was he already dead. I decided it would be best not to go back to my home. I think my parents would have wrestled my are keys away anyway and not even let me in their garage.

He answered my question as to whether he was alive or dead about 9:23 that night (this all transpired between a little before 9 and 9:23). He sent me a text saying "I want you to be at peace", then there were no more texts, no nothing for a long time. The police finally called me around 1 am to tell me he had taken his life. They sent chaplains over and some friends we both knew came as well. They told me a homicide detective would call me after 8 am. It was already 2 am.

He did call, in fact, and he came to visit later that morning as well to tell me some things in person and to ask some questions about some weapons and other property Jeff had with him that night. It was during this half hour discussion that I learned something about my late husband's state of mind the night before.

The detective told me about a wedding picture we had hanging on the wall heading up the stairs in our home. This picture was our favorite. A very good friend of mine had purchased it for us and all our wedding guests had signed the frame. We had one of our favorite wedding ceremony pictures framed in it about a month after our wedding. Jeff had taken this picture off the wall and leaned it up against one of the new end tables we had bought. When he was on the phone with me, the two gunshots I heard was him shooting at our beautiful wedding photo. The detective told me he put one bullet in his head and one bullet in my head in the photo. He told me this is what is called "killing in abstention", having a intent to kill someone even if that person is not physically present. I just stared at the detective. He told me if I had gone to our home, I would be dead. He had seen it many times before. Jeff had been both homicidal and suicidal that night, he was sure of it based on about 20 years of experience. All I could do was look away. As I've written this, I've cried about that wedding picture, for the first time since that terrible night. So many hopes were wrapped up in that picture. They were taken away by two bullets and a man who had descended into the dark oblivion of his thoughts.

Now do you see why I am thankful to be alive every day? Had a made a different decision on June 10th, 2014 I would not be sitting here writing this blog. I am grateful the detective told me about that because it gave me a window into how far Jeff's mind slid into the dark that night. To this day, I believe one of many reasons he took his life was because he knew what he was capable of and he didn't want to do that. Sadly enough I would learn later he had not only tried to commit suicide before but he had also threatened others with violence including his 2nd ex-wife with murder. This broke my heart yet I am still so thankful to be alive. I am also thankful he never made good on his promises to the others that he threatened.

I am here to tell you, be thankful for every day you have. Be thankful for waking up and getting to see another day. I sure am! Be wise in your decisions. One decision could be the difference between life and death for you. One decision would have meant life or death for me that night. Above all else, never lose hope in the good that God can bring from evil. He has done it for me and He can do it for you! He is faithful!

Always and forever thankful for life,

Elizabeth

**The Road Less Traveled: A Story of Love, Pain, Hope and Everything In Between


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