I never truly appreciated life until the day I turned 32 and one day old at the same time. My 32nd birthday became the end of one person as I knew her and the birth of another. I woke up as Jamila Harris, as I had grown to know and love her. When I closed by eyes that night I had become a different woman. It was the beginning of a year-long nightmare.
The day started off normal even though it was my birthday. My husband had not been home for a couple of days and I was going to treat myself to something good to sooth my emotions of not having him by my side. We had been married for three years but there was never a doubt in my mind that he was being unfaithful.
He also was dealing with some deeper issues, the type of emotional distress that would cause him to go into isolation from time to time. I was trying to be a great wife so I was good about allowing him to take the time needed to sort these issues out. I proceeded to go out and purchase some fine Italian jewelry to mark my special occasion. As I was caught between making a decision as to whether to buy some bangles or a charm bracelet my cell phone rang. It was my significant other.
"Baby, you thought I forgot you on your special day?" he said to me. I was stuck on the other end of the telephone with tears welling up in my eyes, happy he found the strength to come out of his clouds of darkness to contact me. "Whatever you're doing, stop and meet me at the Lowe's Hotel so that we can celebrate your turning 32 today", he told me. I was so overcome with joy that I left the decision of bangles or charm bracelets on the counter. I raced to meet my husband at the Lowe's Hotel and was greeted by a room decorated with candles, roses, fine wine, and a birthday cake. My husband embraced me with a huge hug and warm whispers of happy birthday in my ear.
This was one of the happiest moments in my life. I was with the love of my life and we were going to celebrate it intimately and happily. He ran me a warm bath full of bubbles and rose petals. He put my favorite CD in the radio and poured me a glass of white Zinfandel. I sat in the tub smiling from ear to ear as I closed my eyes and reflected on how great the last 32 years had been for me. I also felt blessed to be spending this moment with my significant other. As I lay there in the bubbles with my thankful thoughts my husband came into the bathroom and delivered my first gift. It was a beautiful diamond encrusted heart pendant from Tiffany. As I began to thank him he shushed me and told me to close my eyes again. I heard the music stop playing and when he re-entered the room there was a different look in his eyes. It went from loving and adoring to evil and diabolical.
He asked me "Do you know why I don't come home some days?" and I answered "yes." I knew he was dealing with things from his past that he neither wanted to discuss or display to me at those times. I explained this to him and again gave him my words of understanding and support. "Whatever it is that you have to go through, we will get through this together", I told him.
My husband then snickered as he told me that issues from his past were partly the problem but not quite. He then told me that he had been using drugs and was dealing with substance abuse for a while now. I was in shock. I can't say that I did not believe it because that would explain the lack of communication when he was away and the overnight time away from home. Whenever he did return he never displayed behavior that indicated infidelity so his revelation of drugs suddenly made sense to me. I was prepared to deal with this the best that I could but what I was not prepared for were his intentions for me that night.
He told me that tonight he was going to share the way he dealt with his emotional problems with me. He was planning to give me crack cocaine. This was supposed to be his ultimate gift to me. I remember becoming frightened of my husband and for my life. From the look on his face, this was going to be a birthday gift that I wasn't going to be able to refuse. I then closed my eyes and said a quick prayer that I make it out of this hotel alive. I knew after that night it would be the end of life as I knew it and that if I was still breathing when it was all over, it would be the beginning of a new, long, traumatizing life ahead. I didn't have a choice to ponder too much about this because he walked over to me and proceeded to give me the drug as he said once again "Happy Birthday Baby!" That day