"What are you training for?" he asked?
"Huh?" I responded, dazed and confused by the question.
Detective Clark asked again, referencing the calendar that hung in my bathroom. Scribbled on it had been a series of numbers. Some of the days had even been completed successfully.
I've NEVER been a runner. Like not ever. As a kid, I can remember my parents "rewarding" my efforts in gym class with little treats if I could somehow run a sub 10-minute mile. I still consider the 10 minute mile pace to be a run, not a jog. So the mere fact that I'd somehow tricked myself into training for a half-marathon, complete with running schedules etched in sharpie on my calendar, was a feat in itself. That I'd managed to run 6 miles in an hour without feeling like terribly out of shape, was a downright miracle.
So as we waited in the hospital on the single worst night/morning of my life. As I sat stripped of a piece of my humanity, there was Detective Clark extending me a lifeline. His simple question offered me a piece of myself back - a chance to connect, oddly enough with a part of myself I'd never really accepted to begin with.
April 1, 2017
A beautiful blue sky and cool spring breeze greeted my mother and I as we exited the car in a neighborhood just north of the city. I'd rearranged my schedule to have the morning off when I learned about the 5k race, and neither she nor I knew fully what we were getting ourselves into. As we walked up to the community center where the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's Second Annual Sexual Assault Awareness 5k and Zumba event was to take place we chatted about who all might be there.
As we got a little closer, there stood Detective Clark. Over the course of my trial last summer, I grew to appreciate his sense of humor. He always looked to bring a little levity to the darkest of situations and was incredibly compassionate.
"Eating any honey buns lately?" I asked him.
A huge smile spread across his face as he outstretched his arms to me. In the hug that followed, I was welcomed in to the community of survivors, fighters and protectors all working together to end sexual assault.
"It is so great to see you here," he said.
As the morning unfolded, I met Lieutenants and detectives in the unit. Some of them worked on my case - almost all had heard of it. A couple of detectives came up to me to hug me after learning I was there. It's surreal to have folks know who you are, and your story, and reach out with such compassion. Compassion like that causes a tangible swelling inside my soul. To be connected to such incredible people is an honor.
The morning became something of a family reunion for me. The two prosecutors who vigorously fought on my behalf were there, as was the Captain who alerted the media to my case nearly three years ago. Newer folks to the team who are working to test sexual assault kits were there, and for the first time since my attack I may have found a way to give back and get involves that feels like "me." It's exciting. Another well-known survivor in the community spoke and summed up the sentiment of the event best.
"I never thought I'd be happy to get up before a group of people and say I'm a rape survivor. But here I am."
Here I am, too.