LETTER FROM A GRIEVING MOTHER
(Shared from Anny Donewald’s newsletter)
Indianapolis was privileged to be part of a Celebration of Life for a beautiful young dancer whose life tragically ended in July.
The following message is from her mom:
Please post this to your page, if you see fit....
My name is Kristi Jarrett. My daughter, Kaycee Erica Merriman, took her life on July 10, 2013. Kaycee's wonderful stepmother, Chelsea, contacted Eve's Angels. Several of the ladies from this ministry attended Kaycee's Celebration of Life ceremony on July 20.
Eve's Angels did not know Kaycee. So why would several young women sacrifice a Saturday afternoon to attend the heart wrenching ceremony of a beautiful 22 year old woman who left us too soon? Why would they volunteer to put themselves through the palpable tears and pain of hundreds of friends and family? Maybe, because when they saw Kaycee, they saw themselves, or others whom they love. Maybe, because when they saw Kaycee's family, they saw their own families.
When Chelsea told me that she had contacted Eve's Angels, I knew nothing about this group....but somehow, I knew that their presence at the service would be a positive thing. I will also be quite open and frank....I am an atheist/agnostic. For most of her life, Kaycee was too. Before she began her spiral downward, her and I shared many hours of intellectual conversation regarding spiritual beliefs and organized religion. Let me make this clear: Kaycee was not tormented by her spiritual beliefs....she was resolute and comfortable with the fact that she did not know what happens after our mortal bodies die. She didn't suffer with this subject. But she did suffer with drug addiction and possibly other mental illnesses, which were largely related to her ultimate fate.
I am also an academic and have focused much of my studies on different aspects of religion and its relation to humanity and society. I have also done extensive work in the role of women throughout human history and prehistory. I am an outspoken advocate for women's rights. I truly believe that women provide a balance to our world....women bring nurturing, love, and kindness that is the essence of who we are. However, women (as well as men) often become lost as they struggle to navigate life and all its challenges.
It is also a harsh fact that economic opportunities for women fall short of those available to our male counterparts. I sympathize with women who may stumble upon the world of adult entertainment, in order to survive. I have known and cared for many women who work or have worked within this industry. I worked with a woman who married at 17 and had 4 children.....she was very intelligent, but delayed attending college in order to raise her children. After 15 years of horrific abuse, she found the courage to leave. She had almost no family and her ex husband refused to financially support his family. My friend saw her kids off to school in the morning, took a nap, then attended classes to earn her nursing degree. She welcomed her kids back home in the afternoon.....made dinner, did homework, put the kids to bed....then her mom (or sometimes I would fulfill this role) would come stay in the house with the kids while my friend earned money to feed her family by dancing. She faithfully arrived back home before her children awoke and the cycle started all over again.
She lived about 5 years of her life on about 2 hours of sleep per day. Yet, she never engaged in the drugs, alcohol, or other activities that can be an integral part of this industry....although she openly discussed her understanding for the young women who did become caught into this trap. But my friend's kids never knew that she had performed this work. As soon as she received her nursing license and got a job (she graduated at the top of her class), she quit dancing and has since been able to provide for her children while working as an RN. She was honest with her co-workers about how she had "put herself through college." She just said, "When you have mouths to feed, you do what you need to do to take care of them."
She taught me so much about life and the importance of not judging others. I, myself, was a young single mom. I was fortunate in that Kaycee's father is a wonderful man who ensured that his daughter and I were taken care of while I was finishing my degree, even though him and I were not together. I was also fortunate in that I had supportive family.
My daughter Kaycee was also surrounded by family and friends who cared for and adored her. However, when she began to show signs of drug addiction, we realized that we could not "enable" her to continue her path toward self destruction.
I realize now that my expectations for Kaycee could have been overwhelming for her. I do not consider myself to be a materialistic person, but I recognized early in her life that Kaycee was very, very intelligent. Kaycee was a "surprise" pregnancy.....I conceived her at the age of 17. Before my pregnancy, I had big dreams for myself....law school, politics, saving the world. However, her dad and I decided that we would just take a different path by making the best of the situation....we would keep her and raise her together, even after him and I were no longer a couple.
By all accounts, Kaycee was a daddy's girl from Day 1. Her dad was barely 20 and was not ready to be a father....but he stepped up to the plate and did what he needed to do in order to ensure that her and I were provided for. He easily could have walked away, continued his college education, his life, and promising future. Instead, he enlisted in the Air Force and delayed his college education too. Kaycee couldn't have asked for a better daddy.....Kaycee was his angel and he would've laid down his own life to save her from even an ounce of pain.
Looking back, I could have been too hard on her.....even if I didn't consciously realize it, maybe I held her accountable for fulfilling my own personal dreams. I don't know? I always encouraged her to be herself and develop into the woman she was meant to be. But when she started making bad decisions....it was very difficult for me. She was too damn smart for that. Her dad, myself, and our families financially provided for her. She had so much love around her....and didn't have to worry about financial matters.....she went to dance classes, private school for a time, nice clothes, etc.
When Kaycee was a teen, I was working as an RN. I worked with people every day who had NO ONE.....no hope, no money, no job skills......yet they soldiered on.....they had nothing, but they were survivors. Every time Kaycee would complain that we had "no food" (when in actuality we had a refrigerator and cabinets full of food, it just wasn't what she was craving at the time), I would get furious with her....I'd open the fridge, the cabinets, and say, "Do you think starving children in Ethiopia would think we had "nothing to eat????"
But please don't get me wrong.....Kaycee wasn't an overly privileged child who was just unthankful. Shortly after she turned 18, her personality began to change.....my sister and mother both have schizophrenia, and the pattern of Kaycee's behaviors have made me very suspicious that she, too, suffered from this illness. However, I could never convince a doctor charged with her care to even sit down and listen to me. I believe that our mental health system failed Kaycee....miserably. Kaycee had other demons.....in my opinion, there is no doubt about that.
Although I am open and honest about my personal religious beliefs (or lack thereof), I also believe that there are "angels" among us.....it is human to judge others.....it is human to be suspicious of others....especially when these people have first hand (and often painful knowledge) about the harsh realities of this lifestyle. Alot of women enter the adult entertainment industry so that they can feed themselves, their families, and possibly their children. For most women I know, they will do anything in order to care for the ones they love. Bottom line: although I consider myself a feminist, I do NOT judge women who feel like the only way they can care for themselves and loved ones is by accepting employment in the adult entertainment industry. Unfortunately, such a high percentage of these women then feel like they are "stuck" within the industry and they cannot get out.
This is where I place Eve's Angels on a pedestal. I spoke with many of the lovely ladies who attended during Kaycee's memorial. I have....possibly a character flaw.....where I cannot lie or "cover up" my beliefs regarding religion, and I know that Eve's is a Christian organization. I am respectful in revealing those feelings, but I still feel that it is only fair to reveal them to honest, good people who are only wanting to share comfort and good will.
I'm terrible with remembering names, but I'll never forget a face or what they said. One of the first of Eve's Angels that I talked to, within the first 2 minutes of our conversation, I told her that I am not a Christian. She displayed no sense of shock.....she just nodded her head and said, "Yes, we are an organization that feels compelled to spread the real message of Jesus.....that he is caring, forgiving, and that he loves anyone. But you don't have to agree with our religious beliefs in order to receive our support. We are here to love....just as Jesus did. We know what Kaycee suffered with. We've all been there."
Wow.....what profound words to say to me.....the unconditional love in her eyes. As an out-of-the closet atheist, I am used to seeing people repel from me the moment they find out. But here was a group of young women saying, "Sure, we do this work for A.) Our love for Jesus and his TRUE message" and B.) To help ease the pain of our fellow human beings.....no matter what your beliefs.
I received hugs, tears, and understanding from these women that was, well, Christ like. Several of the ladies spent a significant amount of time sitting down with Kaycee's dad, giving him a shoulder to cry on (her father is a wonderful man with a loving heart who needed to vent and cry.....but he feels like he needs to "keep it all together" to help everyone else. He appeared to feel safe talking to Eve's Angels.
Most of all....I want to make this distinction for this organization: so many religious organizations (anti abortion groups, etc) try to "convert" people and bend those they believe to be "sinners" to conform to their own beliefs.....but then they offer little to no help beyond that. I've delivered babies for 22 years.....I'm very familiar with these tactics.
Eve's Angels is different. They don't shake a finger in your face, insisting that you are heading straight to the burning flames of hell. They show genuine love, compassion, and understanding. They cried at Kaycee's funeral, even though they didn't even know her. They don't condemn these young women, then tell them to just "go figure it out" like so many other groups do.....if the troubled woman asks for help, Eve's Angels is there to OFFER help and follow up. They offer REAL WORLD solutions for escaping this lifestyle.....in contrast to other groups who wave a Bible in a wounded young woman's face, then say, "You must stop this or you will burn in hell. Oh yeah, then if you are pregnant, and the guy is abusive, you should just try to go work things out with him."Again, this may seem unbelievable, but I've heard the same stories over and over again. Then Eve's Angel's welcome these young ladies into their community. And, from my understanding, they don't care what religion the people they help are.....if you are a young lady in over your head, and you need help, they are there to help you.
What would JESUS do? Or Buddha? Or Allah?....I honestly feel that any god would do what Eve's Angels do.
I have been asking people to make donations to this group, no matter how small.
I love you, beautiful ladies!