Christmas Eve is a wonderful day for so many. It’s a day filled with anticipation, and last minute shopping. For many of us civil service employees, Christmas Eve is a shortened work day that is light on work and heavy on best wishes, hugs and gift exchanges. Christmas Eve, I believe it was 1993, brought more than gifts and cheer for many of us who worked in a small State office in Northern California. It brought something that is forever etched in my heart and hopefully I can use it to bring change to your life.
My coworkers and I were packing up our gifts and preparing to leave the office and start our holiday vacations, meaning most of us would not see each other in the office until the New Year. We had a great work group; we got along exceptionally well and many of us frequently got together outside the office. So it wasn’t unusual that a few of us softies shed some tears as we hugged each other and said our goodbyes.
Not every hug stood out to me that day, but I do remember noticing a strange sense of urgency in Tiffany’s hug. Tears streamed down her face as she made her way around the office and embraced each of us. We laughed at what we perceived as Tiffany being overwhelmed with holiday cheer and the beauty of another breathtakingly beautiful holiday season in Northern California. So we dried our eyes, wished each other well, and went home to our families.
It didn’t happen until a few days after Christmas. I was driving south down I-5, in my Pontiac Fiero with the radio blasting on a sunny but cold day, when the news of Tiffany’s murder filled the car. She had been severely beaten by her longtime boyfriend and left for dead in the floor of her home. After beating Tiffany, the boyfriend made lunch, which required him to step over her bloody, bruised body to get the mayonnaise and leftover turkey from the fridge, and while he ate his lunch, he watched television and “hung out” for a while in her home.
We all knew that Tiffany was a victim of domestic violence. Many told harrowing stories of going out to lunch with Tiffany and ending up in a high speed chase after discovering that “he” had Tiffany under constant surveillance and going out with friends was strictly prohibited. Those close to Tiffany tried for months to get Tiffany to pack up her children and leave her violent situation. She promised she would make changes next year. Her promises made the discovery of a stack of pamphlets from WEAVE and other domestic violence shelters in her desk so heartbreaking, because we realized that the urgency we felt in her holiday hugs were really good bye hugs. Tiffany knew that extricating herself from the caldron of violence that was her home severely jeopardized her chances of seeing the New Year.
I remember how sweet and bubbly Tiffany was, but sadly the memory of her adorable face (she was really cute) and her smile are diminishing from my mind as I enter into my 50’s. Tiffany always tried to reassure us that she was fine even with bruised arms and blackened eyes, she held onto hope that everything would be fine one day, but she was wrong. Tiffany doesn’t come up on a Google search, but she left a family and countless friends who witnessed her existence and miss her dearly.
The boyfriend was arrested, but I don’t know what his sentence was, it’s probably safe to assume that he’s done his time and has moved on to another family. So on this Christmas Eve, in honor of Tiffany Brazil, I want to remind everyone not to take anyone who you love or who loves (or even likes) you for granted. This of course means family, but also it also includes the coworker who breathes too hard, or plays their radio too loud but has an infectious laugh and a unique way of making the work day a little brighter. Like it or not, these people are a vital thread in the fabric that is your life.
I also want to beg, yes, beg anyone who is enduring a violent (verbal and/or physical) relationship, not to wait for next year or next week or tomorrow or even the next hour to seek help and plan your escape. This life has so much more for you than a broken heart, bruised arms, and blackened eyes. There are so many people in this world who need the light that you bring, who look forward to your smiles, and this light not only affects your family, your light also brings a wonderful brightness to your coworkers and friends and a bunch of people you never imagined having an effect upon.
So please, this holiday season, don’t forget the gift that so many people need and look forward to seeing and hearing from each day; the gift of you.
Happy Holidays with much love from River City Social Media!