It’s been one of those nights. A night when I’m hit hard by the fact that you’re gone; and the selfish, violent, senseless way you were taken away just doesn’t seem real. You fought and won so many brave battles. To survive breast cancer, a horrific car accident and other trials, but die at the hands of a man who vowed to love you forever? It’s just not fair.
The realization that you’ve been gone almost six months is a strange feeling. I know from talking with others and stalking your Facebook page that I’m not the only one who has moments when the sadness and tears seem to come out of nowhere.
I had a work event tonight in St. Joe – not too far from your house. I thought about you as I passed the entrance to your neighborhood. Almost turned down the street, just because.
During a conversation at the event I randomly asked some of our guests (after they told me they lived in St. Joe) if they knew you. Of course they knew OF you. Of course. Doesn’t everyone in that small town? You’re a legend… in the most awesome way possible.
Anyway, one of them – I didn’t think to catch her name – gave me the best news about your babies, Regan, Reece and Kaden. It sounds like they are doing so great, Mama. They have an incredible support system and they are being wrapped in so much love. The same kind of love you showed every single person you met. I had tears in my eyes as this woman described the community of strength and happiness embracing your kids. It’s amazing. They are in such wonderful, capable hands… but you already know that.
I also shared some stories about you with this woman – how our photographers at the TV station used to say they "got Bohned" when your scripts always came in last minute. I mean, come on. You sometimes gave those guys 15 minutes to edit the lead story for the 5 o’clock news. That’s insanity. No other reporters were brave enough to do that. You were that good though. Good with people, good at getting the story, good at making us laugh.
You also drove some of those photographers nutso in the car. Did you know that? Always on the phone with your “Komen People” or supporting a friend battling the same disease you conquered so fiercely… Octobers were THE. WORST. Well, for the photographers anyway.
For you? October was your month. You worked your little pink tutu tushy off all year, raising money for breast cancer research and also supporting women who battled breast cancer, but October was the peak. You wore as much pink to work as you possibly could – coats, shoes, purses, lipstick – and you wore it with pride. You were amazing.
You never stopped (you even drove fast with those vanity license plates... letting everyone know they were being passed by the "NEWSLDY"). I remember you telling me you woke up at 2 or 3 a.m. most days to do your volunteer or Susan G. Komen work while your house was quiet. Then you got the kids out the door for school and then went to work at your real job. How in the world did you do all that? You were there for your babies every second they needed you, but you were there for everyone else who needed you too.
In the midst of all that though, very few of us knew what was happening behind the scenes. You didn’t open up to many people about the pain you kept tucked away behind your brilliant smile. Those you did tell never could have predicted the outcome.
You and I were pals – former colleagues who still sent a text message every once in a while to check in. Our last exchange was two weeks before you died. I’m separated but it’s a good thing, you typed. Should I have asked more questions? Should I have dropped what I was doing and called? Those thoughts never crossed my mind. You were being so... DENISE about it. …it’s a good thing, you told me.
It WAS a good thing. My strong friend who had survived so much was making strides toward a better life for her and her kids.
Right now I’m seeing lots of social media reminders about the important work you did to raise money for breast cancer research. You must be so freaking proud of these people carrying on your legacy. They haven’t stopped… but why would they? These people learned from the best. It’s incredible to see.
There is one conversation though, that I’m NOT hearing in our communities… the other “awareness” we’re supposed to raise in October. This is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month, represented by the color purple. That’s a big deal.
It matters that you beat one incredible set of odds in your 30s, then became a different kind of statistic at 45. You were arguably one of the strongest, most determined people I've ever met. But it happened to you.
I did some digging a few hours after I got the phone call telling me you were gone. I learned you’d reached out to a trusted friend for advice about how to handle some of your concerns at home. But you didn’t technically ‘cry out for help.’ The warning signs didn’t seem to be there.
What if we gave domestic violence the kind of attention we give breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and research? Could somebody have saved you?
So many of us – including you – thought your purpose in life was to be that crazy woman in pink who unselfishly gave so much to everyone else. But what if there’s more to it? Maybe it’s time to weave some purple into that conversation when we talk about Denise Bohn, and start talking about the warning signs to help other women who are trying to break that same cycle you were so carefully planning to escape. More lives can be saved because of you. I know it.
We love you, sweet Newslady. May you rest in pink and peace – finally free from your pain.
SAFETY ALERT: If you are in danger call 911. Or reach the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224.
Safety tips from the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence.
January 27, 1971 - April 19, 2016
I'm a mom to 3 beautiful, spirited, elementary school-aged humans, I'm addicted to running + strength training, I have no filter & I work full time in the corporate world. But behind the scenes of all that is where it really gets interesting...