Today was the 127th anniversary of the murder of a young Auckland girl named Emily Keeling.
Although still feeling very much under the weather, I dragged my weary Hobbit self into town for a marriage counselling appointment and then carried onto my next appointment to observe the anniversary of this fateful day for Emily Keeling.
Two fairly recent, but inarguably dear friends and I ventured into the city to pay homage to her at her grave located underneath the Grafton Bridge. We left her flowers and notes, and talked about how far our society has come, and how far we still have to go.
Both of these friends have been kind enough to let me volunteer with them for the Friends of The Women’s Refuge of which my friend A is the president. This is the charitable trust that brings Sculpture on the Shore to Auckland’s Fort Takapuna every two years. An amazing event, and the largest single fundraising event for New Zealand’s Women’s Refuge on the calendar. Our mutual desire to support women and address the very real issues of domestic violence here in New Zealand, made our visit to Emily very poignant indeed.
These ladies are kind, funny, low maintenance, ethical, and ever so slightly older and considerably wiser than I. I cherish their friendship and opinions a great deal. Particularly in the past few weeks as I struggle to come to an understanding of what Love is. Grumpy and I are going through one of our roughest patches in memory, and the advice and candour I’ve received from these lovely ladies has lightened my burden and my mood, and convinced me that although we’re navigating through stormy seas, we’ll come out stronger than ever if we’re both willing to work through our (many) issues.
Not all relationships are so healthy and able to be introspectively, or in any other way assessed or appreciated.
The man who shot Emily, and then himself, was a Love-struck, fairly recent immigrant from England named Edwin James Fuller.
Details are sketchy, but apparently Emily’s father did not give his blessing after Edwin had asked for her hand; and seeing as he believed himself to: “Love Emily Keeling as no one ever Loved before.” He had to kill himself, and her as well if she would not marry him against her father’s wishes, according to his suicide note.
In New Zealand, an average of 14 women die at the hands of their current or former partners every year. In very recent memory Christie Marceau, Sophie Elliot, Annie Liu, Ranjeeta Sharma… this list could go on. And many more that never make it to the news.
I am blessed to be in a relationship that is fairly consistently devoid of jealousy, condescension, and bullshit. This relationship does, however, come with a fair heaping helping of baggage and issues which my husband and I both have the freedom to bring up in an attempt to work through. I won’t air that dirty laundry here. Anyone who knows us well knows what we struggle with, and none of it is scandalous, rare or even all that interesting.
The tragedy of all of this may have made a wonderful Bronte-esque novel, and teenagers the world over might see it is a dark and beautiful homage to the intensity of young Love.
I just think it is terribly, terribly sad.
Love is not angry or jealous. If you truly Love someone, as a friend, partner, parent, child, or Lover – wishing to harm them or yourself as a result of your feelings for them is not what I would ever classify as Love. It is passion without purpose and the ultimate in egomaniacal, narcissistic and self indulgent evil.
One of my complaints about my long suffering husband is the lack of fire in his belly when it comes to standing up for me. Today has given me plenty of food for thought on this matter.
Just because he does not come to my aid or defend my honour every time someone says something cruel or hurtful to or about me (which admittedly happens quite a lot as I am very loud, trusting, and unguarded, and therefore an embarrassingly easy target for insults) does not mean he does not Love and respect me. I guess it just means his Love is gentle and enduring. And I’m generally a pretty tough and independent little battler. So maybe today was a good chance to take a step back and stop looking at what is wrong with my marriage, and start focusing on what is right. And there’s plenty to be thankful for.
Rest Peacefully Emily.
Your story will be shared for generations through my own, and many other families.
I hope wherever you are when you read this, you know that you are Loved and that Love is healthy and safe and fulfilling.
Some other Emily Blogs (including my friend Su’s that is responsible for our visit today)