Brianna's Story-Taken Too Soon
by Debbie Hester
My precious angel Brianna was beaten and murdered by my daughter's ex-boyfriend on April 30, 2009. She died in the early morning hours of May 1, 2009 after being taken off of life-support. Brianna was only 17 months old. She was so perfect, so beautiful and so defenseless. I alternate daily between cursing God and thanking him for every one of those days she was here with us. My grief is still so unbearable at times. Time has not healed my heart and I doubt it ever will.
My granddaughter Brianna was like one of my own. Her real father was never in the picture. She and her Mommy lived with me and we would often joke that Bri did indeed have two parents as I was her "second Mommy". I still miss all the late night feedings, diaper changes, making bottles, hours of tummy time, and all her milestones I was so honored to share during her first year.
Then my daughter started dating this man and everything changed. She claimed he was everything she was looking for and he was so good to Brianna. He was 32, divorced (so he claimed) with 3 children of his own, and seemed very mature and settled. All was good at first, but then she moved her and the baby into his apartment. Everyone told her she hadn't known this man long enough to be moving in with him. But she quickly told us that she was a grown woman "in love" and able to make her own decisions. That is what she now has to live with the rest of her life-as her decision cost her her daughter's life.
The rest of the family started noticing bruises on Brianna about 3 months after they started living together. My daughter always said that it was because Bri fell down a lot, as she did have a very pronounced turn in her right leg and foot. And she was just starting to walk. Brianna's pediatrician even examined her foot and said she would probably outgrow this. Sadly she never got the chance.
We have since found out that the boyfriend would hurt Brianna every time her mommy left for college. Child Services (DEFACS) were called six different times and did absolutely nothing. My daughter always believed him when he claimed Bri fell or tripped again. Everyone had always seen him be nothing but loving and gentle with her. My daughter was young, naive and thought she had found her soul mate. He was indeed a real "wolf in sheep's clothing". My daughter's heart has been ripped out and she will never trust again. She now lives with enormous guilt and self doubt instead of her beautiful baby girl.
We have all been through hell and back with this. That monster is currently in jail awaiting the murder trial, which we pray will be soon and our baby will get justice. The roller coaster of emotions this past year has almost torn our family apart. Nothing will ever be the same or "normal" again. It is too late for our Brianna now, but hopefully her story will save another family from having to go through this horrific hell. No child deserves to go through what our little Brianna did.
If I have learned anything from this tragedy it is- ALWAYS TRUST YOUR GUT FEELINGS AND PLEASE NEVER LEAVE YOUR CHILD ALONE WITH SOMEONE YOU DON'T KNOW!!! (I have always said it takes at least two full years to really know someone, now I wonder if even that is enough.)
Every minute of every day I miss her so much, but if my pain is the cross I have to bear to get to hold her again someday in Heaven, it will all be worth this agony. I Love you my Brianna. Always and Forever?