On New Year's Day she stood in front of me smiling, a smile now filled with two more teeth than she had a month ago. The two upper front teeth, still white stumps pushing outward with a slight gap between the two, have begun to fill out what will be a life-changing smile.
What already is a life-changing smile as far as me and Mama are concerned.
But then I freak a little and think, What the hell?
It's my daughter and I'm her daddy. My daughter who will continue to fall and bang her head and skin her knees. My daughter who may someday play soccer or the saxophone (damn that daydream time traveling again). My daughter who may someday make the honor roll year after year, her walls filled up with certificates and ribbons. My daughter who will someday fall in love over and over while I stand by to help Mama pick up the pieces and to berate those who break her heart.
My daughter who may someday make a wrong turn, maybe abuse alcohol and drugs, and maybe get involved in abusive relationships.
And we will love her and help her help herself be better and get it together again. Maybe she'll join Narcotics Anonymous and get a job at 7-11, turning her life around one day at a time, filling the lives of her customers with life-changing smiles.
Like Nicole in Santa Cruz, whose life ended on New Year's Day when an ex-boyfriend showed up during her early morning shift at 7-11 and shot her and then turned the gun on himself -- what the police are calling "a deadly case of domestic violence," the first homicide of the new year.
Nothing changes, not even when there are life-changing smiles.
I don't know anything more about Nicole's life other than what was revealed in the newspaper article, which wasn't much.
The killer's uncontrolled cowardice is telling enough, though. The wrath of insecurity and self-loathing rips holes in the hearts of too many, holes that can only be filled with dominance, abuse and violence.
I believe we can help others help themselves to be better if we intervene early enough. My daughter may someday be a social worker or volunteer at a domestic violence shelter or be a counselor for at-risk children and teens. Or maybe she'll work for an organization like the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence.
Twenty-four percent of workplace violence is related to domestic violence according to Bureau of Labor Statistics survey data. That's one-quarter of violent incidents at work. I'm moderating a workplace violence panel discussion on Wednesday, January 20, 2010, from 11-12 PST, sponsored by EmployeeScreenIQ. I encourage you and your employer to attend.
And Beatrice, keep the life-changing smiles coming. We'll all keep working on the rest of it for Nicole and countless others.