On December 24, 2002, a 27-year-old woman disappeared from her home in Modesto, California. Laci Peterson was eight months pregnant. Four months later, she and the body of a fetus she named Connor washed up on a beach near San Francisco Bay. Her husband, Scott Peterson, was convicted of murdering Lacy and her unborn child.
When I first heard of your disappearance on the news in December of 2002, I was living in the woods of western Massachusetts and renting the third floor of a beautiful house. A family lives downstairs, so I felt safe. I separated from my abuser a few years ago and still struggled with PTSD and anxiety.
“Pregnant women go missing,” said the journalist. A chill ran down her spine. Because of my own violent past, I tend to think that if her husband was involved, he would be guilty.I was afraid you were dead, but you Run away, I hoped you would run away. Hundreds of miles away, somewhere in a small village near Puget Sound. It has wildlife, dense trees and small islands. Far enough away from my home in California, but still in the US. I thought I could safely deliver the baby alone. After all, Christmas was a time of holy births and miracles.
I immediately thought that your husband was Bluebeard from an old fairy tale who had killed his wife. But these were the days when I recently graduated from an MFA program in creative writing and fell in love with revisionist fairy tales and mythological poetry.
Women were no longer victims in my poetry. Instead of being kidnapped and raped, I begged Hades about Persephone as a young woman who was sitting in a field of daffodils, separated her from her possessive and demanding mother, and took her with him in a carriage. I asked to escape to a welcoming and warm underworld home. In my version of these stories, Agamemnon’s daughter, Iphigenia, escaped from the sacrificial altar to which her father delivered her, and Antigone herself said that her uncle imprisoned her without food or water. escaped from the death grave of At the time, when I was rewriting the female ending, I was thrown into the corner of Bluebeard’s locked basement and celebrated the fact that she wasn’t torn to pieces in a pool of blood to reflect on my life. did not notice. .
The discovery of your unborn baby Connor’s dead body, and the discovery of yours the next day, four months after your disappearance, was not a “John F. Kennedy” moment for me. When President Kennedy died, I was five years old. I remember how the neighborhood kids were learning to lace their sneakers when they shared the news of his death. However, I am unable to capture the exact moment when I heard that your body was found.
You see, in the months without you, depression and anxiety slowly grew within me. Yours is the first major news story I’ve followed since leaving my abuser and the mention of your name brings all my old fears to the surface of my memory. The panic attacks and stomach pains I experienced while in In our weekly therapy sessions, I talk about your case, relate your situation to mine, wonder what would have happened to my family and friends if I had gone missing, and ask why you and not me. I asked if
Eventually, my therapist suggested I stop watching the news.I was allowed to watch the weather, but that was it. So, while driving down the dirt roads of western Massachusetts to teach English literature to freshmen at Springfield University, I believe you heard the news on the radio that your corpse was being washed up. Or maybe you heard it on TV in a restaurant in town, or from a colleague as you passed by the hallway. When the press reminds viewers, I only think of JFK on the anniversary of his assassination. Every time I’m here, I think of you.
But all I remember is a photo of the freshly painted blue walls of the nursery you made before you disappeared, and a white crib and an old-fashioned donut-shaped life preserver hanging on the wall. That’s it. “Welcome,” it said. A sarcasm still creeps down my spine. No one knew how desperately you and Connor needed some kind of rescue equipment to save you. It’s a feeling I know all too well. The isolation and secrecy that come with living in a difficult relationship, when your smile hides the fear beneath the surface. When even those closest to you are unaware that you are in danger. I know how likely it is that I was adrift, missing my body, my head, my limbs, instead of you or Connor. What happened to you was my worst fear. When I lived with my abuser, we had guns and hunting knives in the house. I gathered the strength to leave.
You were 27 when you went missing. You have been married for five years. At 27, her abuser and her had been together for two years. I had already been slapped, pushed away and threatened. For me, the worst was yet to come. I have not heard that there was a legacy of physical abuse in your marriage. However, it turns out that your husband was having an affair, which you discovered. could only imagine the secrets you were hiding. How many secrets died with you? As your search continued, photos of you appearing on the news and on flyers and billboards showed a pretty, happy, smiling woman in a satin red pantsuit. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was directed at your family or friends. I was afraid of being criticized by my family and friends, so I smiled through the pain and sorrow each time they came to visit me.
In Bluebeard’s fairy tale, when he was about to behead his wife, she was saved by her brother. From what you know about your own brother, your brother, like mine, would have come for you with every life preserver he could find had he known. .
I’m still imagining your last days. Surprised? Was there a fight? How long did the struggle last? How long did you resist? I once read that resistance is the secret to joy. As I read this, I felt every cell in my body pulsing. It’s like when you understand a great truth.
With Connor in your womb, I can only imagine how you, a soon-to-be first-time mother, would have fought against your death. In this resistance you imagine using, I find myself a fragment of joy. No matter what energies you fight to stay alive, I feel forever wild inside me. It wasn’t until months of working with a therapist that I was able to tap into it. I hope you feel this in those final moments.
I have a lot of questions, Lacey. In the days or hours leading up to your death, did you think that fate was approaching in the form of your husband? I could feel his tension build up for days or weeks until. Was it for you? Was your dog fighting for you at the last moment too? Brother, did you call your mother? Did a shark mutilate your limbs after you were thrown into the sea, or did your husband do something horrible beforehand? Did you keep Connor safe in your womb before banishing him?
The truth is, knowing the answers to these questions doesn’t change anything for me. Bigger than the Fetal Violence Victims Act that your mother passed, bigger than all of us who still remember you. Where are you now, is Connor with you, and have the two of you finally made peace?
When it comes to living with enormous uncertainty, is there room for no answers?