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About Jamie Collins
Jamie Collins sprints the halls of a busy law firm in power suits and polka dot high heels by day and is a nationally recognized paralegal blogger at Just Being Jamie and The Paralegal Society by night. She is a motivational speaker, wife, mom, an avid drinker of tall iced teas, inspired story teller, and the founder of Bold Whisper Books. She is also Jessica "Pelley's" cousin.
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As a child, I was known as "Jessica Pelley." When I was nine, I went to a sleepover at a friend's house for the weekend. While I was away, my entire family was murdered. I would spend the next 30 years fighting, crawling, and clawing my way through the darkness. This wasn't just a national news headline, a cold case, or a true crime show. It was my family. And my life. I was the broken little girl left behind to tell this story. I am now "Jessi," in the pages of this unapologetic memoir, set free.
JESSI - APRIL 29, 2016
April 29, 1989.
A date I cannot forget.
Numbers forever seared deep into my soul.
It was 27 years ago, today. Jesus. Get a grip, Jessi. They’re just numbers. They don’t mean anything. You’re giving them power over you, again. That’s what I tell myself. But the numbers—those damn numbers—they haunt me. They always will. I cannot escape them. Not now. Not ever.
For most people, dates are just numbers on a calendar. No big deal. Random markers of time affixed to the top left corner of small, white squares on a page to depict days filled with choices, chances, and opportunities. At least that’s what they are for the normal people. But I’m no longer one of them. For me, they serve as numeric reminders of the girl I used to be.
A tragedy that would irrevocably and mercilessly alter the life of a little girl wearing dark blue jeans, canvas lace-up sneakers, and a white tee shirt, accessorized by prominent coke bottle glasses, her hair hanging in a messy bob. Her life would be forever dismantled. Gone. The moment they told me the words. The ones that I will never forget. At that moment, my life froze and shattered into pieces, splintering like bits of broken glass, dropping down onto the ground around me, like the remnants of a cracked windshield, falling fast before the spinning mind and broken heart of a wide-eyed little girl.
Life, as I knew it, was over in that moment. What happened on April 29, 1989, has scarred me forever. A day that started out normally, before it became ensnared in marred memories, tucked between folds of tragedy and darkness. The lingering memories cut straight to the core of the hollow girl left behind.
The darkness delivers itself to me, every year, on schedule. Steadily. Greedily. On the 29th day of April. Relentless. Haunting. It taunts the pieces of me that remain. Every single year.
I try to lift myself out of the darkness. I tell myself the numbers shouldn’t matter. Not after 27 years have passed. Jessi, It’s just another day. You can do anything you want with it. Don’t slip into the darkness. But not even the voice in my head believes those lies I tell myself. Year after year, my happiness recoils, my thoughts run to a dark place filled with foggy memories and a void that swallows me whole. The door of despair opens and I’m trapped: alone, numb to the bone, emotionally deplete, void of all reality, space, and time. I hate the helplessness as I slip further into that dark place. A place that, long ago, was filled with light. A place where three little girls would sing happy songs, pick flowers, hold hands while skipping through tall blades of grass, and sit down at the dining room table, where they would bow their heads to pray before plates filled with food, in a home filled with laughter. Then it hits me—the life-defining, self-inflicted images of horror—of their final moments—dragging me deep into the darkness.