My Victim Impact Statement

Your Honor,

I am Jennifer Ann Trapuzzano, the widow of Nathan Benjamin Trapuzzano, and mother to his only child, Cecilia Marie Trapuzzano.

I stand before you today representing the multitude of lives that have been effected due to the events of April 1st, 2014. On that day, we lost a wonderful man who was a husband, brother, son, grandson, uncle, nephew, friend, and soon to be daddy. Although I cannot address every person’s life who was affected due to the poor choices made that morning, I want to express the effects that I have personally witnessed and felt in my own life.

There is no way that one can ever prepare themselves for this. Most believe that it will never happen to them. I was one of those people until Simeon Adams murdered my husband.

Nathan was the greatest person. He was not a perfect person and never claimed to be, but you always knew where he stood, what was right, and what he believed. I never went a day doubting his love. He would always tell me he loved me every night before bed, every morning, and every time we went separate ways. He believed in helping others and often would get up early on Saturday, his only day to sleep in, to pray outside the abortion clinic. He was the greatest of persons. And there will always be a Nathan-sized hole in my heart and life.

I stand before you today, a broken person, who has lost every sense of normality— A person who grieves the loss of Nathan, not only for myself, but for our daughter Cecilia, our unborn children, and for the world that has no idea what a wonderful person they are missing. Simeon stole not only the life of Nathan, but the normalcy, peace, stability, sanity, and ability to sleep, of an entire family and community.

I expected to live my entire life with Nathan, we loved each other so, and we were truly soul mates. Now every day and every night I cannot escape the reality and accompanying grief that my happy, caring, and loving husband, the father of our daughter, is gone. The impact of his death on our family is profound. He was the family caretaker and leader, and I have felt less than adequate in trying somehow to fill his role.

Just prior to his murder there was great excitement in our family. We were preparing for the birth of our daughter, Cecilia Marie, due May 7, 2014, just over a month away. We were also to celebrate our first wedding anniversary on May 11, 2014. I had just celebrated my 25th birthday on March 17th and still remember blowing out the candles, wishing this would be the best year, yet all the while knowing I didn’t even have to wish it because I knew it was going to be great. Only two short weeks later, Nathan’s death devastated our family. The fact that he never lived to enjoy and feel the excitement of becoming a father has added to our emotional stress and devastation.

I cannot find the words (if there are any) to explain the devastation and mixture of feelings that I felt when I knew he hadn’t come home from his morning walk. I recall running outside, desperately calling his name, and walking the same route he always took. The memories still rush at me— the disbelief— and then the sudden reality of pain that shook me to my core and crushed my heart. It constantly haunts me that at the time of Nathan’s death, I was not there to comfort him or share last goodbyes— to at least be sure he did not feel alone. The horrific drive to the hospital was filled with feelings of disbelief mixed with pleading to God to save my loving spouse. My worst fears were realized when they told me they were bringing in the coroner and needed someone to identify the body. I was incapable of doing so, and had my father and friend act in my place. My worst fear was confirmed by my crying father. My mind did not want to believe this; I was confused and numb. My life was shattered.

My thoughts immediately went to our unborn child. I needed to do everything in my power to keep our Cecilia safe and healthy. She instantly became my lifeline, my reason for surviving. But I now had to face the world without the love and care of my devoted husband and Cecilia without her father’s care, guidance, protection and love, a love that can never be replaced – a totally unconditional love which is so precious today.

I will never forget that first night. There was not much sleep that night and for a number of nights thereafter. I continue to have sleeping problems and lie awake many nights. I continually wake hoping that this tragedy has been a very bad dream, not wanting to accept the reality that we have lost him forever.

The days following his death feel like a blur. His mother organized the funeral and service and helped me in the decisions that had to be made. I was not capable of organizing everything myself as I was still in a state of shock, numbness and confusion.

Following the funeral, as the visits of family and friends became fewer, I had more time to think about the specific circumstances and consider how best to come to terms with this enormous tragedy. I realized that my life, had changed forever. I now had to face the world without the love and care of my devoted husband, and Cecilia had to face it without her father’s care, guidance, protection and love, a love that can never be replaced – a totally unconditional love which is so precious today.

Three short weeks later I would deliver our baby girl into this world, this same world that took her father away from us. I cannot express how bitter I feel that what was supposed to be the most joyful day of my life was tainted with such pain and grief because he was not there to share it with me.

I found myself as the sole parent which was not something I had ever prepared myself for. He and I had made these plans together. We had chosen her name, decorated her nursery, and prepared ourselves to become parents – together. Since his death, I find myself so often feeling incredibly lost and unable to readjust to a new plan, a plan that he cannot be a part of any longer.

I no longer can enjoy our long and meaningful talks that we both enjoyed immensely, and enjoy together the plans we had made for the future. The impact is only deepened as I realize so many other aspects of life Cecilia and I will miss sharing with Nathan and things she will not have the joy of experiencing with her beloved father such as her baptism, her first words, her first steps, her first day of school, her first school dances, her first dates, sporting events, and his walking her down the aisle on her wedding day. I still recall him telling her in the womb every night “I love you baby girl”— words she will never hear again. She will never know his voice, or see his face in a crowd watching over her. She will only know him through stories and photographs. This is often the most devastating thing of all, that my darling daughter lost her father before she ever got the chance to know him. She calls out “dada” when she sees his picture and she kisses his face in a frame; this is the only version of him she will ever know. He will never get to teach her the worth of a true Godly man. He told me over and over again how important fathers are in the family unit. What a cruel twist of fate that his own child should have to grow up without hers.

I have realized that we are all privileged to have had Nathan for the short time we had him. I tell my Cecilia every day that her father loves her. I know even when we miss Nathan that we are lucky – lucky that he was such a wonderful and a God-filled example to us. We are lucky that we are able to miss him so much because we knew his love and loved him in return. But this also highlights the impact of our loss.

My life stopped on April 1st, 2014. I have been shocked to the core of my being. I feel battered and bruised, never whole again without him. I can no longer live an ordinary life and my heart suffers from the deepest wound— a wound from which, it will never recover. I was his wife for just over 10 months and then he was taken so suddenly from my life. The impact of Nate’s murder has been catastrophic. The loneliness and sadness I feel is enormous.

Nathan embodied everything I could ever ask for in a spouse. He had an unshakeable sense of faith and family and unquenchable love for life. Now, as I go through the worst time in my life, the person whose passion, intelligence and strength got me through all my trials before is no longer there to help me with this struggle. What was stolen from me on April 1st 2014 was love, my best friend and my entire word. What was stolen from us was our future, our unborn children, and our lives together.

The emotional impact is huge. I suffer from insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks, and I now look at the world differently. I have nightmares of his terror that morning and all that he would have gone through. I wake up petrified and uncertain if my loved ones are still breathing.

I hesitate to leave my home because home is where I feel safe, the rest of the world has become a foreign battleground, with evil around every corner, waiting to take its next victim. I have had to move from the home we shared, given its proximity to where his death occurred and the sudden nature of finding myself a single parent. The pain of not being able to tell Nathan that I loved him in his final moments, the knowledge that those last moments were terrifying and painful, and the knowledge that with his final walk he had crossed paths with evil haunts me every day.

Most of all, I miss Nathan. I miss waking to him making me breakfast in bed. I miss lazy afternoons in the sunshine, making plans, laughing with him, and sharing my life with him. I miss his insight, fun and wit, his huge smile and warm embrace. I think of him every second of every day and I think of the pain of never being able to laugh with him again. I think of the waste of a brilliant mind and a beautiful soul at the hands of another human being. I think of how in love we were and of how much I’ve lost and how much of my life and dreams were built around him. I am half a person because of this crime.

I can never forget what was done to him. I come across ordinary young couples or young families and they are so happy and normal. It’s what we should have had. Seeing them is like so many stab wounds as they remind me of the life we would have shared together, but which, has been so cruelly taken away. I now have to try and rebuild a new life and even the thought of that just makes me so sad. I have been given a life sentence.

Simeon Adams has been sentenced to 55 years. 55 years will never give Nathan back to us. It will never mend my broken heart. It will never give Cecilia the chance to know her father. However, I come here today not to plead for more time, but to speak of forgiveness. These next few words were spoken by Father Roberts at Nathan’s funeral. But they are words that I full-heartedly stand by and mean when I say: I forgive, because Nathan Trapuzzano was a man who knew from his head to his toes that he was a sinner who was loved and forgiven by God.  He wanted everyone he met to know the same love and forgiveness.  I believe that he still does. Nathan would have wanted everyone here to know something in our bones.  Each one of us here is loved with an infinite, personal and unconditional love by a merciful God.  There is nothing that we can do that God will not forgive.  We can refuse to accept that mercy, but God will never stop extending it.  God loves each one of us more than we can ever know.  He wants nothing more than for us to return to Him and let Him fix His merciful eyes on us and say, “You are my beloved son, you are my beloved daughter, in whom I am well-pleased.”  He wants to run out to meet us just as we decide to come back to Him, to embrace us and to shower us with kisses.  This is true no matter how grievous our sins are. We cannot be certain exactly what was going through Nathan’s mind in the last moments of his life.  But as his wife, his soul mate, his beloved, I believe that he would have desired to do God’s will with all his heart, just as he sought to do throughout the entire time that I knew him.  For myself, I have little doubt that as his soul drew near to his particular judgment on Tuesday morning, perhaps even after he had passed out of consciousness, Nathan forgave his murderer.  That was the kind of man that I knew him to be. And while 55 years will never give us back Nathan, forgiveness is what I offer Simeon today.

Jennifer Trapuzzano

With special thanks to Father Roberts for delivering such an open and beautiful message on forgiveness that I hope to embody and we all can learn from.

The pain of a broken heart and the other losses it brings

The past 4 weeks I have been kept momentously busy doing my cardiology rotation for PA school. This rotation hit home too often to count. Since I have joined the sisterhood of widows, I have gained many truly wonderful friends who lost their husbands suddenly due to a heart condition. As I treated those patients in their beds, I couldn’t help but remember the faces of those that have gone before us, those who left behind loving wives and beautiful children. I dedicated my time spent as an act of prayer, a prayer for the families left behind, a prayer for the souls of the dead, a prayer for the caretakers of the patient, and of course a prayer for the patients themselves.

I wake up every morning asking God to make my life a constant prayer, to remember Him in every moment, to honor and love him in all that I do. And on the days that are the hardest, I repeat incessantly “I can’t do this on my own oh God, so Jesus I offer it up to you.” This has become part of my daily prayer. Because behind these eyes, behind this smile I put on my face, there are still so many moments where the pain stabs me so hard that my heart feels like it stops and I forget how to breath. These moments may only last a few seconds or they may last hours. Every day is a new day. Every moment brings a new memory, a new challenge, a new hope. I do my best to find the hope but no matter what there is always a shadow – a shadow that will forever linger on every moment of every day, every joy, every accomplishment, every change.

As I studied throughout my rotation last month it struck me how much I am taught about the different characterizations of chest pain and what it means, and yet there is no mention of the pain of a heartbreak. A discomfort that feels like a pressure, heaviness, tightness, fullness, or squeezing often indicates a cardiac ischemia. Whereas an aortic dissection most often presents with the sudden onset of sharp, severe pain, often characterized as tearing or ripping. Pain that occurs in the chest wall that is sharp and worsened with breathing is often pulmonary in nature. (Note: these are not diagnostic descriptions, but common generalizations among medical practice). I find it kind of funny, as I read through these descriptions, because as frightening as these conditions are, the pain that is described does not even come CLOSE to the pain of a heartbreak.

This pain is so raw, so excruciating that truly no words can describe it. It is feeling that your heart has been stabbed, then ripped out of your chest. Thrown on the ground and shredded, then haphazardly sewn back together and shoved back inside. It hurts so much you can’t breath. You can’t think. You can’t process things around you. You’re lucky if you remember your name when this pain hits, it is truly shell-shocking and numbing. All you can do is wait, wait for it to go, wait to wake up from this horrible nightmare, to go back to the way life was before.

The problem is, there is no going back. There is no “cure”. The only step is moving forward, moving to a new “normal”. However I can’t find a treatment plan or medication in my books to help with this. There is no “one way fits all” kind of cure. And that often is the worst part. Because, the heartache, as much as it hurts, is only the tip of the iceberg. The loss of someone you love, particularly a spouse, not only creates a pain so unbelievably deep, it also creates a void in your life. A loss like no other. I still struggle every single day with what my life means without Nate in it. I still have trouble figuring out what my immediate future should look like because all the thoughts I ever had about the future had him in it and had him there beside me to make decisions. I am unprepared and uprooted.

I remember reading last summer a list of the types of losses you endure when you lose someone you love. There is the primary loss, which is the ache of the person gone from this earth. Then there are the secondary losses, which are so numerous; yet each one is such a deep loss, its own kind of pain. These secondary losses are the ones that no one talks about. Because unless you have suffered this type of loss, the pain of these secondary losses is unfathomable. These are the reasons why those of us who have lost our spouses can’t “just move on” from our grief in a “timely” manner. It is the reason why it is so incredibly difficult for me to do anything, why my brain feels like it is turned to mush all the time. Why I can’t figure out my future, because these losses are just unbearable and often impossible to comprehend. My entire life has been upturned and thrown into disarray. These secondary losses can include:

  • Loss of ourselves – Nate was not just my husband, when we were married, he became a part of me. Half of me was taken when he left, I am no longer whole, I am just a shadow of who I was when he was here.
  • Loss of identity – Now that half of me is gone, I have no idea “who” I am anymore. It is so hard for me to hear people say that “the old Jen is back”. I know they mean well, but my heart can’t help but cry out – how can the old Jen be back?!? She is gone, buried with him. While I am not going to drastically change into an unrecognizable person, I am also never going to be the same again. That old Jen that people used to know is gone forever.
  • Loss of self-confidence – People tell me I am strong, but I feel like all I have to do is get out of bed for them to say that. I suppose there is a strength in me that keeps me going, but I feel that my confidence has been shattered. If people say rude or hurtful things I just want to crawl under a rock. I often just don’t have the energy to stand up for myself and even if I do, I just don’t have the desire to.
  • Loss of security – this is a big one! When you lose someone, your entire world is rocked. The way I lost Nate rocked it far more. The security I feel around the world is gone, safety is one of the biggest things I value and I have the hardest time trusting anyone that isn’t within my small circle of daily confidants.
  • Loss of financial support – So much of my livelihood and future was surrounded by Nate’s income and career. He was so excited to start working in November at his new job because it provided such a good outlook for the future. I hate how short his life was cut, how he only had just begun working at his dream job, how he had just began to feel comfortable there, and we were beginning our savings plan for our future family – the family we no longer can have.
  • Loss of family structure as it was once known – We wanted many children, a huge family and a home filled with laughter. I never imagined it would just be Cecilia and I. It breaks my heart over and over and over again, not just for myself, but for her, for all of the siblings she is missing out on, for her not getting to grow up with her daddy, who would have loved her more than life itself. This is one of the hardest losses to bear.
  • Loss of “dreams” – we had so many dreams together. I can recall so many conversations of silly dreams I had, things I wanted to do with him, places I wanted to go, our dream house, etc… He always would just smile at me and tell me “ok”. He once promised me he would fly me to Paris one year on a secret weekend getaway, one where he would just whisk me away for a quick trip, just the two of us.
  • Loss of the future – Again, how can I have a future without him? He was my future. Every future plan I ever built was built around him, around us.
  • Loss of direction – The path I was on is no longer an option, I can’t go forward down that road anymore because that was only a road to be shared with Nate. At the same time I can’t go back either. How do you know what direction to go when you can’t move forward or backward the way you came?
  • Loss of shared goals – we had so many goals in life we were working towards. Recently I have entertained the thought of buying a house. But even the thought feels so strange to me. I was supposed to do this with him – it was our goal to reach together. I feel so cheated.
  • Loss of daily sharing – he was “my person”. I still reach for my phone to call him. Or stare at it, thinking he should be texting me any moment. I miss his voice, I miss his input and opinions, I miss having that person that I can share anything and everything with. There truly is no other relationship quite like a husband and wife, where 2 people are so united as one they know each other better than themselves. He’s the only person who could help me through any loss. When you lose someone outside of your spouse, you have them for support, when your spouse is the person you lose, your entire backbone of support is shattered, throwing you to the ground like a mere ragdoll.
  • Loss of control – Losing someone you love is often out of your control. When you lose this, you find yourself feeling that so much is out of your control and it all begins to spin around and around and around. Control truly feels like such a foreign concept. Because if I had any control, I would bring him back to the life we were supposed to have. This one is something I have prayed about often – I have prayed about this, prayers to ask God to take control, to allow Him in and trust Him fully. In some ways, the loss of Nate has allowed me the ability to give it all to God, because I have no other option but to trust Him.
  • Loss of decision-making ability – I cannot express how much of a struggle this one is. The ability to make decisions is SHATTERED without Nate here. It is almost as if my brain is on standby, unsure of what to do next and choosing to stay put rather than go forward or make any changes.
  • Loss of patience with self and others – This one I struggle with, and it shocks me that I do. It is a loss you wouldn’t think of if it didn’t happen to you. I find myself impatient with those who are caught up in trivial concerns, things that seem so unimportant for me since Nate died. Through prayer I am often able to overcome these feelings but sometimes still catch them crossing my mind nonetheless.
  • Loss of health – those who suffer great loss often suffer health consequences. There is an increased risk for many illnesses and diseases as well as heart failure. Those who don’t suffer a specific diagnosable illness, overall have a decrease in health and the feeling of being healthy.
  • Loss of humor, happiness, and joy – No matter what joy, humor, or happiness life brings, there will always be a shadow of loss and sadness, a shadow of the person who should have been there to join in these moments with us.
  • Loss of residence – a somewhat trivial loss but a great loss all the same. The morning I lost Nate I moved out of our house to my parents and have not gone back since. The loss of our home, the life we had known there is so great. I can imagine that anytime one moves from one home to a new one, there is a certain distress in leaving a home filled with so many memories. When one is thrown quickly into a new life without the chance to say goodbye to their old life, their old home, their old memories, the trauma is so much greater.

The losses of life are so numerous and great, hence why I am so grateful to God that the joys and love of life are even more numerous and greater. The love I feel for Cecilia is so wonderful and full that it fills my heart. The hope and joy that God provides me is what gives me the ability to overcome these losses, one step at a time. I still have a ways to go, a long windy road ahead; but slowly each day I am learning to live again. Learning to figure out God’s plan for me and where I am meant to go next, heartbreak, shadows, and all.

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Jennifer Trapuzzano