Dear Women,

Yes, this letter is for you.  The women believing the stories my daughter has told, without even asking me for my side.

Did you have dreams as a child of becoming a mom?

Did you used to tell your grandma you wanted to marry a doctor and have six children, horses and dogs?

Did you dream of finding a man who would be just like you?  Loving, kind, compassionate?

Did you cry when you heard stories of mom’s hurting their children and killing them?

Did you carry Olivia in your tummy as first a dream and then a reality?

Did you vomit 24/7 for the first 22 weeks of her gestation?

Did you cry when you heard her heartbeat for the very first time and laugh when you felt her move?

Did you eat healthier and walk, and get plenty of rest, and prop your feet up and read to her in your stomach and tell her how happy you were she was coming for your entire pregnancy?

To the women taking my place…were you scared when you were in labor and think about the women who have strokes or die giving birth?

Did you finally relax when the doctor told you they were doing a c-section and your baby would be here in 15 minutes or less and she and you would be fine?

Did you count all her fingers and toes and admire her beautiful face and dark hair?

Did you stay up with her during sleepless nights and rock her when her tummy hurt?

Did you cry when she got her shots as an infant and kiss her spots where the needles entered her tiny legs?

Did you research everything you could before she received her cancer diagnosis?

Did you cry for 7 straight days and nights and cut her curls secretly and put them in an envelope after her cancer diagnosis?

Did you go to the chapel on 7 West and beg the Lord for strength and guidance to see you through this most horrific time in your life?

Did you petition for a cure for leukemia?

Did you spend countless hours working on speeches and speaking in front of people with knees shaking not because you wanted recognition but because you wanted a cure for this disease that took 32 lives as you watched your daughter survive?

Did you place your daughter in the tub with bubbles one night and have to answer her question “is cancer going to make me die?”

Did you feel survivors guilt because your child lived and another’s died?

To these women taking my place, did you take beatings from your husband and hear his harsh words and realize to see your daughter grow up you had to get out so you could survive and so your daughter wouldn’t marry a man like you did?

Did you survive on cheerios for the first six months after you left?  Eating them for breakfast, lunch and a snack because they were cheap and somewhat fulfilling?

Did you worry lay awake at night and wonder how you would pay the bills, the private school tuition and buy groceries because your ex didn’t pay child support?

Did you question everything you were doing to help yourself make ends meet because others were judging your actions and condeming you without asking you your intentions?

Did you watch my daughter struggle with homework, cry when her friends left her, hold her head when she had stomach flus, cry when she had her wisdom teeth extacted?

Did you drive her to school every day of her school career and worry about her maybe getting shot at school, or a fire burning the school down, or a tornado coming and crushing her under the debries from the school?

Did you worry about her coming home from school on somedays alone?  Walking home from school alone sometimes and worry about her getting kidnapped?

Did you pray for her when she had too much homework, or tests to take, or friends to confront?

Did you curl her hair for the prom and feel so proud because she was absolutely beautiful in her dress?

Did you plan her 16th birthday party only to hear her say she wanted the money to go to charity, and did you keep that donation going until she turned 18 without her ever knowing?

Did you worry about her having periods from the devil and wonder if the cancer had somehow messed up her female organs and she may never have children?

Did you worry about her dating and getting herself in a situation that boy would harm her in some way?

Did you teach her to drive with no help from anyone?

Did you lay in her room with her and listen to countless stories about theatre, school, teachers, friends?

Did you listen to her dreams for her future?

Did you support all her decisions – whether you believed in them or not – because they were her dreams?

Did you worry about her and boyfriend #1, #2, #3?

Did you rethink every parenting mistake you’ve made?

Did you apologize when you were wrong?

Did you worry about the parenting decisions you made and wonder if they were right or wrong?

Did you stand up for her when no one else would?

Did you worry incessantly about her since the day she was born?

Did you cherish every single second you had with her, the good and bad?

Did you worry every time she got sick if her cancer had come back?

Did you plan for and try to make her senior year as special as you could and plan little surprises along the way?

Did you stay awake at night during her senior year and wonder if you had prepared her enough for the big world?

Did you worry if her new boyfriend was on the up and up?

Did you cry for four days straight when she left?

Did you stay on your knees for weeks after she left and pray for her return?

Did you scream and cry in agony when you got the change of address card in the mail and stand in the middle of her bed sobbing?

Did it take all your might to get out of bed every morning and go to work then cry most of the day?

Did your boss continuously tell you it was going to be okay and you have to keep going?

Did you go home from work every night for the first 24 weeks and hug her dog and tell her you were “sorry her mommy was gone”?

Did you beg and plead with every adult who knew where she was for ten weeks to tell you where she was and how she was doing?

Did you file missing persons report and be made to feel you were a horrible mom because you’re the reason your child ran away?

Did your sister send you a nasty text on Christmas morning giving you conditions on her relationship with you?

Did you go to the church and your therapist weekly to seek guidance and counsel to rest, reflect, repent and reconcile?

Did you beg and plead with people to forgive you of the sins you committed and help you understand the why of what happened?

Did you have everyone in your family turn their back on you and never ask your side of the story because you had his childhood sexual abuse, an abusive marriage that you couldn’t deal with yourself, but now that was being used against you?

Do you have anxiety attacks for the fear you’ll never see your daughter again?

Do you keep a journal of your life so if you die before you see her again she will know what you were doing and how you were feeling?

Do you cry yourself to sleep every night?

Do you still think of the one and only email from her that was full of hate and wonder where you went wrong?

Do you continue to seek counsel of your church and therapist so you can learn to deal with the information about your child that hurts to deep to think about?

Do you send her emails and beg for reconciliation?

Did you call her mother and ask her mom’s side of the story of why she believes Olivia left?

Did you, after the stories Olivia told, check your facts?

Did you refuse to even speak to Olivia’s mom and try to help her reconcile with Olivia?

Did you and/or do you pray every night for God to soften Olivia’s heart and work life out with you?

Do you check your emails every morning to see if there is one from her?

Do you save a place at church every Sunday just for her?

Do you try to find her in the crowd at the College Age Ministry hoping she will – like their name – Return?

Do you wake up every morning and pray this is the day you see her again?

My belief is you do none of these things, nor have you walked in my shoes, carry the scars of her, nor try to mend the pieces that once were together as your heart.

Therefore, remember, it is not our place to judge one another, it is our duty to have kindness, compassion, empathy, and love…so, turn back time, be born in my skin, live the life I have lived, carry the burdens I have carried, then, and only then, will I allow you to take my place…until then, I pray for your heart too…I leave you with Romans 2:4…