It’s not often that I share my feelings. I report news, events and . I am stepping out on the edge and hanging by my heartstrings to share this personal story with you.
On Sept. 6, 1982 my best friend, Valerie, was kidnapped in broad daylight, in a parking lot in Augusta, GA. Twelve days later my boyfriend was killed in a car accident. The next 35 days we searched and couldn’t find Valerie. Her killer drew a map to her body. Detectives couldn’t find her with the map. Eventually, the killer took the detectives to her body.
Valerie, my dear friend and next door neighbor, was seven years older than me. For years she was like a mother, then a sister and later we were best friends. I always looked to her for advice, laughs and a friendship so rich in honesty.
“Toasty Thomas,” my boyfriend, was a senior at the Medical College of GA. I can guarantee you as a doctor he would have been poorer than a church mouse. His idea of medicine was making house calls in the hills of Georgia and treating people who couldn’t afford care. He was a “Hill-William.” A Hill-William is a Margot-ism for a refined, educated, hillbilly. By the way his name was William, but he went by Dr. Bill. He would have owned lots of chickens and pigs—payment for services rendered.
That year within five months, I lost four other friends 25 years old and younger. There was a black cloud over me that I couldn’t escape. I went to funeral after funeral, then murder trial after murder trial. Needless to say, September 1982 has its cruelties for me. It felt like my arms had been ripped off.
Adding insult to injury, 10 years later in 1992 my brother had a fatal heart attack and died at 31 years old. His birthday was Sept. 12.
Enter Sept. 11, 2001 in a blaze of fury. As a country we all watched in horror and disbelief. Who could do this? How could anyone crush and stomp on our hearts?
At a young age, I knew death. I struggled losing my angels. I always wonder how other people get through death and tragedy. I grew up in a society that brushed it under the carpet. We didn’t talk about it and we didn’t cry. We were forced to deal with it on our own.
How did I get through it? I played tricks on my mind. For instance, instead of going home alone, sad… I would go to the local Kmart. Some of you might remember at the front door of every Kmart were several electric ponies. You could ride a pony for 10 cents. I probably could have bought the pony; I put so many dimes in it. When I was laughing and smiling I would go home.
Today as I reflect, cry and pray for our loved ones—friends, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, boyfriends—I will never forget. I won’t forget to tell you I love you, give you some small nothing of a gift, a hug or a smile because I know in a blink, life can change.