As soon as Debbie Lane got clearance to drive after cataract surgery, she filled her pickup truck with used patio furniture and carted it to her only child in Plano, Texas.
Meredith Hight, 27, was going through a divorce after six years of marriage, and her house needed a makeover. Lane, who lives in Georgia, was eager to help. So for a week, the mother-daughter duo worked side by side to transform the space. They split the cost of a new sofa. They painted the old plastic patio furniture a beige taupe so the Texas dirt wouldn’t show. They planted bright flowers in the garden. They picked out floral cushions and big green umbrellas, which gave the patio an outdoor cafe feel.
After a few days of cleaning, primping and rearranging, the house finally felt like Hight’s again. Lane said her daughter was visibly relieved to be in the final stages of separating from Spencer Hight. Her husband had been abusive to her, Hight told her mother, and physically attacked her on two occasions.
“She was looking forward to reclaiming her life,” Lane said. “It was like getting the biggest monkey in the universe off your back and being able to walk freely again.”
Lane hugged her daughter goodbye on a Wednesday. Hight was excited about the coming Sunday, as she was hosting a football watching party for a group of friends. It would be her first gathering in her new and improved house and a chance for her to start over. Hight, who was a merchandising supervisor for Coca-Cola, was also celebrating her recent decision to pursue an MBA.
It ended up being the last night of her life.
According to police, her estranged and heavily armed husband crashed the party on Sept. 10 and opened fire, killing her and seven of her friends. He was fatally shot by a responding police officer. As the massacre had eight victims, it earned the unenviable title of the deadliest mass shooting of the year, matched only by another domestic violence shooting in Mississippi.
According to research…