This Guest Column was featured in the Tuesday, Sept. 24, Editorial Page of the Naples Daily News:
Guest column: Remembering loved ones’ lives lost
By Mackindy and Netty Dieu, Naples
More than victims of domestic violence, they were our family
Editor’s note: This refers to the Damas family killings in North Naples in 2009. Mesac Damas, husband and father, awaits trial.
It has been four years since the passing of our sister, Guerline Dieu, and her five children.
On Sept. 18, 2009, our family and our community suffered an irreparable loss. Our family would like to take this opportunity to not only honor her memory, but say many of the things that have been left unsaid.
Our family wants our community to know that Guerline was much more than a victim of domestic violence; she was our sister, a daughter, a friend and a mother.
Our family has had great difficulty moving forward and healing due to our delay of closure and our anticipation and trust in the justice system to hold her abuser accountable.
Our family has lost an entire generation. Our nieces and nephews will never graduate, fall in love, marry or become parents to carry on our culture, our family and our heritage. We have been robbed of Christmases, Mother’s Days, birthdays and other holidays that leave us going through the motions without really acknowledging the hole in our hearts that has been created by our loss.
Our family would like to see the justice system move swiftly so that we can move on from our grief and begin to honor and celebrate the memories of the family we once had.
Many people know our sister only as a headline, a Google search or an image of a victim of domestic violence. What they don’t know is that Guerline was so much more. She was a class clown. She was charismatic, beautiful and giving. She would often use her lunch breaks to volunteer and give her time to others in need. But above all else, she was dedicated to her children. They were her whole world.
We also feel that it is essential to acknowledge the absolute outpouring of love, generosity, support and condolences we have received over these past four years. We would like to thank Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk and the entire Collier County Sheriff’s Office for their dedication and support, with special mention to Angela Larson, who has truly taken our family under her wing, and the officers and first responders who were there the day that our lives and our family were forever changed. On that day, they were more than officers: They were real people who cared about our family and shared in our loss.
We would also like to thank Collier County Public Schools, Pastor Jean Paul, First Baptist Church of Naples, Publix and the thousands of public citizens who reached out to our family and kept us all in their thoughts and prayers. Please know that your heartfelt sentiments were heard and that they are held near and dear to our hearts.
Last but not least, our family would like to thank The Shelter for Abused Women & Children. The staff has become a part of our family. The shelter’s support and care for our family has been ongoing, and they have supported and embraced us like no other.
The shelter and its staff have opened our eyes to the mission to end domestic violence and the importance of services and support for victims and their families.
As we see cases in the national news move forward with resolution, we too hope for resolution and closure. We want our community to know that our family appreciates our privacy as we move forward with this healing process, yet we will always hold space to be our sister’s voice to honor her memory and to always remember their names — Guerline Dieu and her children, Zack, Maven, Marven, Megan and Morgan.