The last place Andrea Lowe Garwood would have expected to be gunned down was inside a church, and certainly not as she sang and prayed in worship. Surely, hell had no place in this holy sanctuary.
But death was no stranger to this woman of faith. Last December, she was still openly struggling to find a fitting way of memorialising the first Christmas without her husband, Jeffery Garwood, who had been killed six months before. The previous December she had lost her mother. The solution she came up with was a Christmas tree bedecked with photographs as ornaments.
The 59-year old Jeffery Garwood was killed during a motor vehicle collision in St James last July which reportedly involved what was believed to have been the getaway car with men on-board who had committed a crime and were fleeing the police.
Appearing in the second of a two-part series on the programme Healing Moments on Trelawny-based radio station FIT FM in December to address how she dealt with the trauma, Lowe Garwood said one of the toughest aspects of her husband's death was the fact that she was unable to say goodbye in a funeral service in the format she would have wanted due to the restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“One of the hardest parts is I didn't get to say a proper final goodbye. I was supposed to do his remembrance. I was only with my husband for over three years. I wanted to showcase those beautiful parts of him; the person I knew and that I was proud to be his wife, and I didn't get that opportunity, COVID came and everything just changed,” she lamented.
Her journey of grief, she said, then was not just painful, but “hot, hot, hot”.
“The fact [is] that I didn't get the opportunity to say the goodbye in a way I wanted to... in a way I thought was befitting for the person I knew,” she said.
Up to the time of her brutal murder the woman, who described herself to programme host Dr Asha Mwendo as full of “strength, bubbly, full of life, lights up a room”, disclosed that she was still going through therapy to help herself come to terms with the loss and had big plans to, after the pandemic, arrange a proper memorial service for the man whom she loved.
Attending church and worship after his death was even more painful, because her partner was no longer there. Ironically, on her last day on Earth, the place he would normally occupy was taken by the individual whose purpose for getting that close to her was to kill her.
“Jeffery and I went to church together, and we sat beside each other, but when COVID came he started to sit behind me because six feet apart was too far, and so he would sit behind me. So, most Sundays when I would go to church after his death I would be in a 'hot mess' because when I look to my right there is no Jeffery, when I look behind me, there is no Jeffery; so these are the little things that sometimes cause me to have a meltdown,” she told listeners.
Lowe Garwood was determined to grieve healthily without losing herself to the tide of grief because she had a goal, one she knew her husband would proudly endorse.
“After I decorated the Christmas tree, after my friend them gone, I put down a piece of good, good bawling, but guess what, I am living through it. I know one day I probably won't put down any big, big bawling. I want at the end of grieving to say, 'Thank you, Jesus, thank you for the lessons learnt, yuh never have to go so hard, but thank you.' I want at the end persons to come to grips with their grief and transition (well); I want persons to be blessed,” she stated.
Unfortunately, for those who had not yet heard the story of the 51-year-old bank employee's journey through grief from her own lips, it might be too late.
Lowe Garwood yesterday, some minutes after 10:00 am, became the latest name on police blotters, following a week in which rampaging criminals went on a spree committing murders, rapes, shootings, robberies, and break ins, some 34 incidents taking place between Tuesday and Saturday across nine of Jamaica's 14 parishes.
According to information obtained by the Jamaica Observer, 14 of those incidents took place in Kingston divided among West Kingston, East Kingston and Kingston Central, with others spread across St Andrew South, St Andrew Central, and St Andrew North.
The blood stained other parishes such as St James, St Catherine, St Ann, Manchester, St Elizabeth, Portland, Hanover, Westmoreland, and Clarendon.
Among the victims in Kingston West are 25-year-old Tyrone Brown, an unemployed resident of Crook Street in Kingston; and an unidentified male who was killed during an exchange of gunfire between members of the security forces and gunmen along Christopher Road.
Several shooting incidents resulted in a number of individuals having to seek medical attention for injuries received.
Meanwhile, the market district in central Kingston was the scene of at least two killings.
Yesterday's incident in the Trelawny capital was particularly chilling because of the presence of a video capturing the reaction of panic-stricken congregants and the sound of the fatal bullets circulating on social media.
Lowe Garwood had participated in her final worship on Earth. Her hapless killer escaped in a waiting vehicle.