This is Kelly Curtis’ victim impact statement, made during the penalty phase of the Dontae Morris case.
Thank you for allowing me to speak today. It’s so hard to sum up in a couple of minutes how my life has been affected by this crime. Everything about my life as I know it, 10 years of marriage, four kids and a happy home, changed on the night of June 29, 2010,. My life has been completely turned upside down. My day-to-day life will never be the same.
Everything we do, from eating dinner to going to church, has been altered and significantly impacted since Dave’s death. Dave Curtis will forever be known to this community as a hero because of the way he died. However, I like to remember him for the way he lived.
He was my everything. He was my husband, soul mate, best friend and the one person who I could pour my heart out to and he never judged me. He loved me for who I was. He was also the best father my kids could have ever asked for.
At the time of his death, our boys were 9, 8, 5 and 8 months old. Today, they’re 12, 11, 9 and 4. I now have the sole responsibility to raise our four boys into the men that Dave and I had envisioned. I have a 12-year-old son that I now had to teach how to shave, and 11-year-old that only wishes that his dad would throw the football with him one more night, and a 9-year-old son that dreams of going fishing 1 more time with his dad.
Our 4-year-old son asked when he was 2, “Mom, where’s my daddy” .And before I could answer his question, he responded, “My daddy’s in heaven, right?. The bad guy shot my daddy.”
No 2-year-old should ever have to ask that kind of question or have that become his reality. How in the world do you begin to explain such a devastating thing to a 2-year-old that doesn’t know his dad and never will?
Before Dave’s death we had a fulfilling life. I loved and cherished our little family. I loved sitting outside watching Dave wrestle and play with our boys. He was such an amazing, hands-on dad. He was an instrumental part of everything that had to do with our boys. He would take them to school, help with homework, help me with dinner, and he would give me the day off and take the boys on special outings. Now I have to do it all by myself without his companionship and support.
I am the mom and the dad. I throw the ball with the boys. I cook, I clean I do the homework. I run the errands, and I pay the bills 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And when I need help, my mind goes right to Dave, and I am reminded that I am alone.
It makes me miss him like crazy, but it also makes me thankful that I got to create so many wonderful memories over those 10 wonderful years with him. I am thankful that my boys had such a wonderful father and I had an amazing husband.
I now make it a priority as it is my sole responsibility to keep Dave alive in our house. I tell the boys stories about Dave daily to validate his love for them and so they won’t ever forget the wonderful dad, role model and friend he was to them. I show them pictures of their daddy often because they don’t always remember him through the stories that I tell.
Our youngest saw a picture just recently that he had never seen of Dave that was taken right after our oldest son was born. In the picture, Dave was leaning over and kissing me on the cheek with his arm around me and our new son. He asked me, “Mom, why is that man kissing you”’ It broke my heart and brought me to tears that he had no idea that man he was talking about was his father.
I felt like a failure and was devastated because he couldn’t identify his dad from a different angle. The other boys came over and looked and told him, “That’s Daddy” because I was speechless and I couldn’t reply. How can I ever explain what an amazing man and father that Dave was through just pictures.
Ever since that fateful night, I have been trying to pick up the pieces and put our lives back together, to cope and to deal with all the repercussions of my husband’s death. My boys have had issues at school and experienced many sleepless nights. We have dealt with the loss of security and the loss of a permanent male figure in their lives. They have verbalized that they have a real fear about what would happen to them if they lose me. This is not what a child should have to worry about daily.
We miss Dave terribly as do so many people, but I know that he lives on in our children. I see him every day in the way my son walks, the comments they make and their smiles. Every day I wish we could go back and erase what happened that night so we can have our happy little family again and not just have to rely on pictures and stories to keep his memory alive.