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My Life Under A No-Stalking Order

 It started with good intentions. A friend contacted me to see if I still rescued vizslas. I told her I did. She knew someone who needed an immediate placement. I said I could help, and then the stranger and I became acquainted. There was a warning sign early in our communications, a veiled reference in an odd 6:34 a.m. text to Henry VI,




which had followed a disjointed reference to happy endings:

         

 


Was this concerning? Yes, but its writer, a stranger to me, though in a respectable profession, had an ability to veer back to -- I want to write sanity -- but I think the more appropriate term is non-concerning speech. So, I ignored the warning side, not only for the sake of a dog potentially needing a long-term home, but for the sake of the woman making the difficult decision. This care, of course, ran counter to her admonishment:


         


Her thinking could stay that, but that did not mean a prayer was not said with her name in it.

………..



  These are women who are my role models, whose examples brought me to where I am now.





My mother Mary Catherine Nockels was doting and an exceptionally hard worker, taking care of seven children and a husband who worked three jobs so she could take care of seven children. She was the first to awake each morning and the last to fall asleep each night. I am certain a good twenty years of her life passed with less than five hours of regular rest a night. Still, we were not the only part of her world. Part of the reason she would rise early was so she could get to Mass and pick up the Eucharist she would later bring to the homebound. She stayed long enough with them to clean their kitchens and to sit down for a scone or coffee cake. In the evenings, I would hear her talking on the phone to her sister, Sister Ann Carolyn, S.N.D., who herself had spent the day both teaching children and in prayer. Together these sisters -- my mother, and the sister, my aunt -- modeled human purpose: to serve.


While by no means perfect, there was no doubt the daughter and niece became the student. My service eventually led to the four-legged whose innocence was inescapable and sometimes to the humans needing to make difficult decisions about their fate. My words -- although I doubt they were a comfort in this case, to a stranger in need of placement -- were always the same.

         

         

 

 

Even despite my personal welfare, that has not changed.

……



Fear. A noun, an emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. As used in context. Her fear overwhelmed her, making even opening the front door a think-twice moment.

 

It must be a blessing that I have lived this long without this kind of fear: the kind that makes your fingers shake as you type. My fault in the mind of the person I allegedly transgressed was a strength my mother also had given me: the ability and willingness to see life as good:



 



My fault, in her mind, was also something my mother embodied and I attempted to exemplify -- a willingness to help. And for that, there would be punishment:

 


 


As to happy endings, a reference to a then two-week old text, she had the wherewithal to reference it again, threatening to make me pay:


 


……

          She sent ninety-six texts, eighty-eight between the hours of 12:21 a.m. and 7:04 a.m. ,just after I had taken her to the airport for a move out-of-state; just after what seemed to be a sincere thank you. Within an hour, however, and in the dark of the night while I slept peacefully (for the last time in a couple of weeks) that seeming gratitude, morphed into a threat -- a deserved punishment to me for daring to help not only a dog, but a person:

 

 

 

 


 


  





She threatened to destroy the animal she allegedly loved as one means of revenge.


 



 


 

 


 

 


And she did not rule out others, not even herself:


 


Not even my vizsla:


 


And, last, not even me:



And, finally, she did carry out her threat of returning to Anchorage, to the end of my street, and again threatening harm if I do not cooperate:

 


 

 

 

 

 

…..



Fear. A verb, to be afraid of someone or something as likely to be dangerous, painful, or threatening. As used in context. She feared for her personal safety and for the safety of those she loved.  

 

  This is how I live now:

 

 

And I really hate to admit this -- I am a nonviolent person -- but I keep track of where the other weapons are too and am taking classes again for their defensive use. The rosary, prayer book, and St. Joan of Arc card are my most important protectors. But the signs are up and the security cameras and alarms installed. I watch the live feed of my should-be-safe home whenever I am away.

 

  


 



Last, the protective order is in place, containing a list of thou-shalt-nots for my home, my workplace, my daughter's school, the trails I walk, the people I love, and all the animals, especially the one that used to be hers, in my care.


I used to believe words have power. I wrote a whole book thinking they had power. Now, I am not so sure. But I do hope a protective order is more than just a piece of paper and that it is more powerful than my own words.

 

…..

 

I went to Mass last night. After telling the Gospel story about the man Jesus cured from leprosy, Father Sunder gave the Homily. It was about how the people who Jesus cured responded to his miracles. The leper, Father Sunder told us, went out to proclaim God’s goodness. Somewhere in the homily though, Father Sunder said words I immediately wrote down. They reminded me of my mother and my aunt.

         

Never stop doing good. Your kindness will be returned to you 100-fold.

 

I will follow this command, taught by legacy and example. So today and every day, I try. The dog she threatened to euthanize sleeps beside me right now, snoring. I will continue to protect her, nurture her, and introduce her to other friends.


 


And for the woman who continues to terrify me?


I say rosaries for her, because if people cannot help her without a risk of personal harm, then maybe Mary can. And if she can’t,  maybe Jesus can. And if Jesus can't, maybe the Father can. At least this is what I pray.


And if it is not too much to ask, please pray for me too.

 

Amen.

 

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