Before she died one week ago, Neighbor Mary Atchison was active with the Miller Dogpatch Community Garden in northeast Bernal Heights. Since then, her garden plot has become a focal point for her many friends to memorialize her life and mourn her passing.
Bernalwood visited Miller-Dogpatch last week, as two of Mary Atchison’s fellow volunteers were on hand to tend the garden. She was always a ray of sunshine, they said. She had been involved at Miller Dogpatch in its early days, “before urban gardening was a thing.” She was a huge fan of the Giants and the 49ers, and she loved to wear extravagant boas and paint her fingernails in team colors. She didn’t like tomatoes, but she grew lots of them — mostly to give away to friends and colleagues at work.
There was a notebook tucked under a vegetable plant in Mary’s garden where friends have been mourning her. A sample from inside:
Thanks for always being the warmest and kindest person in the office. “Babes Who Bike” will never be the same without you. I always appreciated that you were so passionate about bikes and bike advocacy. Rest well, Mary.
My forever friend. I don’t know what happened, and I never will. All I know is I love you, my birthday girlfriend. Oh God, No. Love you forever.
One of Mary’s friends at Miller-Dogpatch expressed frustration that it will be a long time until they learn more about what happened. “We won’t really know until the trial,” she said, and that won’t be for quite some time. Mary died from blunt force traumatic injuries, and according to the SF Examiner, her boyfriend, Jules Sibilio, will be in court today for arraignment on homicide charges.
Heather Mayer Fakouri lives in Concord, and she was Mary’s longtime friend. Heather wrote to Bernalwood to share these thoughts:
I am a friend of Mary Atchison. We attended Carondelet High School and San Diego State together. Her death has hit all of us hard. I wrote a piece and was wondering if you would be kind enough to post it, in regards to her death and all those that suffer from domestic violence:
The piercing slap, the pain from the blow…oh the agony I endure! I cry out, but no one listens. I am strong, he loves me! Things will change, he had a bad day. I must go on!
I keep it to myself for the Shame and embarrassment let’s me deny the truth of the reality. I can’t tell too many my anguish. For what would they think? I’ve always endured, why can’t I now? I have too! I will go on.
I am no one’s burden…I suppress the darkness that falls upon me with amusement, laughter and drink. I hide. I must go on.
He loves me! It’s not that bad. Maybe I deserved it. I love him. How could I leave this life we created? I hurt though, inside and out. I mask it with gardening… bringing peace to my planet. I hide it though, with a drink that soothes my thoughts and numbs my pain.
I must go on.
Look Lord, I tried! I kept my love strong, but it wasn’t enough. Enough!! Enough! He went further than I ever thought. This time the pain is deep. Lord my wounds won’t heal this time. Did I do something so wrong this time? Why can’t I mask it one last time..he will change! Am I not able to go on?
Wait something is different. I feel no pain. My heart isn’t bruised. I am at peace. I am with you! Thank you for letting me see the light!
Heather also shared this photo of Mary from their last girls’ night out. That’s Mary, second from the left:
PHOTOS: Garden memorial, by Telstar Logistics. Girls Night Out, courtesy of Heather Mayer Fakouri