Two years since the horrible day that her sister and 11 other people were killed at the Navy Yard, Wendy Edmonds wishes that before Aaron Alexis went on his murderous rampage, he had talked to someone — specifically, her sister.
“She could reach people that no one else was able to reach,” Edmonds said of her sister Sylvia Frasier, a network security administrator who was fatally shot on Sept. 16, 2013.
Edmonds recalls times in her own life that Frasier influenced her in a way no one else could. Like when Edmonds, the youngest of seven siblings, was learning to write, and although she was naturally right-handed, Frasier insisted that she become a lefty like her. Edmonds writes with her left hand, like Frasier did, to this day.
And at Frasier’s memorial service, she heard from person after person about the way Frasier was able to move them. Like the coworker at the Navy Yard, sure he would never go back to school, who got his degree after Frasier got her master’s degree and then coached him through the process.
“I miss my sister, and that’s just never going to change. I miss her so,” Edmonds said earlier this week as the two-year anniversary of the Navy Yard shootings approached. “Our life is forever changed. We’ll never, ever, ever be the same.”
Edmonds can’t speak to Alexis; he was fatally shot in a gun battle with police during the massacre at the Navy Yard. But in honor of the anniversary of her sister’s death, she wrote Alexis this letter. She agreed to let The Post publish it, with only minor edits.
Well, it’s been two years now; two years of inner turmoil, two years of reflection. I thought I’d write you to share my thoughts. My family and I, we really miss Sylvia. You know, I treasure the moments with Mommy as we sit on the sofa and she rests her head on my shoulder looking at Sylvia’s picture. The house is quiet as we share a handful of dry Cheerios from her favorite tea cup when she says, “I sure do miss my Sylvia.” I say, “Me too.”
I remember last year when the family visited the gravesite for the first time since Syl’s burial. All of the family gathered around as we watched Daddy slowly climb up the incline, fighting back tears the closer he got to the headstone. Once there, he dropped his cane to the ground as he got down on his knees, placing himself directly over the width of the headstone. Mommy stood there rocking side to side, side to side. And just when I thought he was going to kiss Syl’s picture, he sounded off, giving God the highest praise. “Praise you, Lord; thank you, Lord; thank YOU. Thank you, Lord, for giving us Sylvia for the time that you did, and now I thank you for bringing her home safe in your arms.” I struggled seeing my daddy humbling himself and crying so fiercely, yet in his own way letting the Lord know that even without understanding, we will forever love and trust HIM.
So Aaron, why do I write this letter? Part of me wishes that you would have taken the time to get to know Sylvia. Because if you did, you would have known that she would have been your number-one advocate to help you in any way she could. Then, the other part of me knows that you will never see this, hear this, feel this or touch this; but this letter frees my soul. It frees me from the unanswered question, “why.” It frees me from the video in my mind that often gets stuck on instant replay, showing me visions of how the house erupted the moment my brother came home and told the family, “Sylvia was wounded…she was shot…Sylvia has transitioned and she’s in a better place now.”
Truth is, she is in a better place and for that reason alone, I must press on.
This post has been updated.