It was March of 2005, a lovely day, and I was driving from a doctor's appointment back to work, when I heard on the radio that a man named Brian Nichols had escaped from the Fulton County Courthouse after killing several people, and that he was on the loose here in the Atlanta metro area.
Ten years ago. I had adopted my daughter the year before and I was still getting used to being a mom. Alesia was in the 7th grade at the middle school. I called the school, terrified. The school was on lockdown.
I had been to the Fulton County courthouse many times. I had seen Judge Barnes in action. I had probably seen the other folks who died, too. It all hit too close to home. It felt like a violation of what had always seemed to me such a safe place, a courthouse.
The rest of the day was very tense. One of the lawyers I worked with at Home Depot was married to a Fulton County judge, and his wife almost encountered Nichols in the parking garage across from the courthouse.
The scariest thing for me about that day was the feeling that it wasn't about me any more. For twenty years I'd lived on my own, but now I had a little girl to think of, and a murderer was loose. He had been spotted in the Duluth area and that was literally 20 minutes up the road from my condo. I didn't get much sleep that night. I knew I would do whatever it took to protect her, though.
Nichols holed up with a woman he took captive at an apartment complex, and the next day surrendered.
Ten years later, the woman -- who was responsible for his capture, Ashley Smith -- has a completely different life, as reported by The Killer and The Captive: 10 years later Brian Nichols' hostage recalls ordeal. She was from Augusta [my hometown] and battling a meth addiction that had cost her custody of her little girl. She has turned her life around, which is good.
Anniversaries are tough to deal with sometimes.
I was reminded of this case when I saw a post on Facebook of a trailer for a new film called Captive.
Looks like a very powerful film.
Funny how much life can change in a decade. Now my daughter is grown and gone, and I have a son still at home.
I rarely ever go to courthouses any more.
Those murders rocked Atlanta. For months afterward, the name Brian Nichols and the names of his victims were all over the news. Ashley Smith was seen as a victim, a collaborator, or a heroine, depending on what account you read.
Life is a precious thing and none of us know when it's going to end. I've seen posts on Facebook in the past few days about 2 of my high school classmates who died. One was a death from cancer, the other a massive heart attack just last night. There are no guarantees.
I hope and pray when it's my time I will not be afraid, and my family will find comfort in knowing I am still around, just unseen.
I don't know what else to say about this. I have a feeling some big changes are fixing to manifest in my life and in my kids' lives. I just hope the coming days remind me of my faith and we will keep rocking along, without fear or regret..