Cop­ing with the pain

Austin American-Statesman - - WORLD & NATION -

light. I can call her right now and spill my guts out, and she will come over.”

Mosley, who works at night as a se­cu­rity guard, said she has not got­ten more than four hours of sleep in a row for the past year be­cause her phone hasn’t stopped ring­ing. But she al­ways an­swers it, she said.

Mosley grew up in Dal­las with two sis­ters and a brother. Her mother had sub­stance abuse prob­lems and phys­i­cally abused her dur­ing her child­hood, she said. Mosley grad­u­ated from high school and took some classes at a col­lege be­fore she got mar­ried in 1981 and be­came preg­nant with a daugh­ter.

She di­vorced her hus­band, mar­ried again in 1983, be­came preg­nant with Or­tralla, then di­vorced her sec­ond hus­band and left for Den­ver in 1985 to man­age a copy busi­ness, she said. Mosley re­turned to Austin in 1994 to open a new store for the copy busi­ness. In 2003, she mar­ried her third hus­band, but they di­vorced af­ter Or­tralla’s death.

“I can’t phys­i­cally give Trella (Or­tralla) my love any­more,” she said. “I have to give love. It’s a ne­ces­sity in my life. When I wake up in the morn­ing, I’m think­ing … ‘What can I do to help a child?’”

Her two daugh­ters were the most im­por­tant part of her life, she said.

“We were best friends,” Mosley said. “I didn’t deal with a lot of grown-ups be­cause I was too into my chil­dren.”

She said she went to Rea­gan High School reg­u­larly to have lunch with Or­tralla.

“Just to show you how close we were,” she said, “her class­mates in­vited me to her prom af­ter she died.”

Mosley said that three days af­ter Or­tralla was killed she went to Rea­gan to talk to the stu­dents about her daugh­ter. A few months later she started talk­ing to stu­dents at other schools, she said.

Mosley said she barely sur­vived her own painful feel­ings in the years im­me­di­ately af­ter her daugh­ter’s death.

Mosley said that in 2004 she tried to kill her­self by slic­ing one of her arms with a box cut­ter. But the cut stopped bleed­ing and healed, she said.

“I felt like I let my baby down by not be­ing the one killed in­stead of her,” Mosley said. Carolyn Mosley, speak­ing at Hus­ton-Til­lot­son Uni­ver­sity, be­gan talk­ing to stu­dents about abu­sive re­la­tion­ships three days af­ter her daugh­ter Or­tralla was stabbed by an ex-boyfriend in 2003. “A mother shouldn’t have to bury her chil­dren. She should go be­fore her chil­dren. I lost my an­gel.”

In 2005, Mosley worked for a year as a prison guard in North Texas for the Texas Depart­ment of Corrections. “I felt like I needed to be im­pris­oned for be­ing a bad par­ent,” she said.

At the prison unit where she was work­ing, one of the in­mates told her that “my daugh­ter de­served what she got and I needed to be dead,” Mosley said. “I could have given up ev­ery­thing in my life and beat him down with a ba­ton, but I wrote him up in­stead.”

Mosley be­gan to work through her grief by rec­on­cil­ing with her es­tranged mother in 2006, a few months be­fore her mother died.

“I didn’t want her feel­ing like I did over the loss of a child,” Mosley said.

Then, in 2007, Mosley helped spur a state law that re­quires school dis­tricts to pro­tect stu­dents from be­ing phys­i­cally or emo­tion­ally abused by their sig­nif­i­cant oth­ers.

This spring, Mosley was in­vited to talk to stu­dents at LBJ High School, Bowie High School, Hutto Mid­dle School and Hus­ton-Til­lot­son Uni­ver­sity. Mosley told the stu­dents about her own child­hood as well as her daugh­ter’s death.

“My mother used to beat me,” she told a room full of Hus­ton-Til­lot­son stu­dents in March. “I would get hit with ex­ten­sion cords, and one time I was so bruised she told me to get in the bath­tub, and then she poured al­co­hol all over my body.”

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from high school, Mosley told the stu­dents, she got mar­ried to her first hus­band, who hit her on their wed­ding night. She left him af­ter she be­came preg­nant with Or­tralla’s older sis­ter, Cassma. She said her sec­ond hus­band turned out to be a drug ad­dict.

Her daugh­ter’s life seemed to be on a much brighter path. The year Or­tralla died, she was a cheer­leader and dance co­or­di­na­tor at Rea­gan, Mosley said. Her boyfriend was a quar­ter­back on the foot­ball team, and they both wanted to go to col­lege, Mosley said.

“In my mind, it was the per­fect re­la­tion­ship,” she said.

But McTear started telling Or­tralla what she should and shouldn’t wear to school, so Or­tralla broke up with him, Mosley said.

Mosley said she was on her hon­ey­moon in March 2003 when she got a call that McTear had stabbed him­self in the neck in­side Mosley’s house af­ter Or­tralla re­fused to get back to­gether with him. Mosley said she im­me­di­ately re­turned home and asked McTear’s par­ents to get coun­sel­ing for him.

Later that month, Mosley had gone to Or­tralla’s god­mother’s house to talk about ap­ply­ing for a call cen­ter job when her pager started beep­ing con­tin­u­ously, she said.

She stopped at a pay phone and called the per­son who had paged her — one of Or­tralla’s friends.

“All I could hear were the words “Or­tralla. Knife. Brack­en­ridge,” Mosley said. “I got to the hos­pi­tal and said, ‘I’m here to pick up Or­tralla Mosley.’ A nurse said, ‘We sent her to the morgue.’”

The Hus­ton-Til­lot­son stu­dents lis­tened to Mosley qui­etly and had few ques­tions af­ter her pre­sen­ta­tion.

Au­drey Mor­gan, a par­ent sup­port spe­cial­ist at LBJ, said that when Mosley went to the school this spring, there “wasn’t a dry eye in the house.”

“I usu­ally get out­right about two or three girls that request her num­ber,” Mor­gan said. “When she first started com­ing here, kids didn’t know what to make of her, but now they ask me, ‘When is that lady com­ing back that talks about dat­ing vi­o­lence?’”

Glo­ria Terry, the pres­i­dent of the Texas Coun­cil on Fam­ily Vi­o­lence, said she has re­ferred a woman whose daugh­ter was killed to Mosley for help. Terry met Mosley this spring when Mosley spoke at an event dur­ing Na­tional Crime Vic­tims Week.

“I ad­mire her com­mit­ment and strength,” said Terry, who also has daugh­ters.

“She told me, ‘Never say good­bye to your daugh­ter. Just say, ‘See you later,’ ” Terry said.

Mosley, who has three grand­chil­dren, is study­ing for an on­line de­gree in psy­chol­ogy and crim­i­nal jus­tice so she can be­come a li­censed coun­selor, she said.

Mosley said she still has all of Or­tralla’s be­long­ings, even the white shorts and white spaghetti strap top that she was wear­ing when she died. She said she keeps them in a box in a spare bed­room.

“I’m not get­ting rid of them,” she said. “That’s her. Even though it is bloody and messed up and cut up, it’s still her.”

Al­berto Martínez

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.