The past 15 months have been an emotional roller-coaster for Clarissa Joseph-Nurse after her husband Mark Nurse was fatally shot.
On December 20, 2019 – five days before Christmas, Tobago recorded its tenth murder for that year, when Nurse, 40, an MI4 security officer of Feeder Road in Canaan was gunned down in the line of duty during a robbery around 3.30 am in Carnbee.
He was also a staff member of the Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) which falls under the Office of the Chief Secretary. Before that, nurse was a volunteer with the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) after belonging to the TT Cadet Force and the Boys Brigade.
Police say, Nurse and another security officer, Atoyia Charles, were in the process of transporting the day's sales from Penny Savers Supermarket, on Carnbee Main Road, when bandits approached. As Charles left the building with the money bag, she was approached by two masked gunmen who ordered her to handover the money. She complied and was shot in the leg and shoulder. Nurse, who was seated in the driver’s seat in the company vehicle was approached by one of the gunmen who shot him in the back of the head.
The bandits escaped with $160,000, Newsday was told.
Charles was taken to the Scarborough General Hospital for treatment. Nurse was pronounced dead on the scene.
Speaking with Newsday on Monday, Joseph-Nurse, 32 said she continued to try and be strong.
“I’ve been fine for the most part. Just fine, I must say. There are some days that you get certain flashbacks, remembering certain memories but, for the most part, I hang in there trying to be strong.”
The reason she needs to be strong, she says, lies in her two-year-old son Makai who she shared with Nurse.
“He needs me more than anything else right now. I have a plaque at home with Mark, and Makai usually points it out and says, 'Dada,' I’m grateful that he knows his father.”
Just telling him that his father is not coming back, she said is painful enough for her.
The deceased also fathered 20-year-old Marie Nurse from a previous relationship.
Originally from Trinidad, Joseph-Nurse, who works as an administrative assistant at the THA Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and the Environment said the incident has deeply pained her as she still tries to create a family atmosphere for Makai, although she knows it will be tough.
“He was our everything. I am just trying to pick up the broken pieces and walk – he was our everything.
“I try to do some stuff to make lots of memories with baby boy just for memories sake, it’s tough but I want to keep his memories alive.”
She said her husband is missed every day, noting that the support that she has received since the tragic passing has been great.
“The support is great – his friends, my family – great.
“I almost moved back home to Trinidad as much as I didn’t want to, but I have decided to hold on. I am renting and that's hard because a month does fly fast.
Joseph-Nurse added that she also had the support of one of Nurse's friends who fixes any problems she has with her car.
"They are all just a phone call away, I don’t harass them often, but they are a phone call away and I appreciate each and every one of them.”
She said the police in Tobago also gives support to her family.
"Especially through covid19, the Victim Support Unit came and they brought hampers and stuff. They call occasionally to provide updates and to give me the assurance that they’ve not forgotten the incident. They told me that, not because I am not hearing anything on the matter, nothing is happening, they are still working on it.”
Even at this point, she remains optimistic that the perpetrators would be brought to justice.
“I am still hopeful – kind of. You does hear so much things and all kind of different talks. I’m hopeful but then there are certain things you hear but – it is what it is.
“I hope whatever they did it for, they got. I hope they’re happy because what they do, they would never prosper. That what they do – they would suffer for it. If not through the justice system – something else.”
She shared some of her fondest memories with her husband.
“Sometime recently something happened, and I found myself saying if Mark was here, he would have real laughed at me. I missed that most about him – poke fun at people especially me."
She said, sometime ago, she was at home with Makai and she thought she heard a key jingling in the door as if Nurse had come home and was trying to open the door to come in.
"I had to console my self and say. 'No Clarissa.'
"Even sometimes when I get up during the night, because of the hour he use to come home, I’m looking to see if he reach as yet. But I does real have to console myself and say, 'No Clarissa, he isn’t coming back.'”
Joseph-Nurse says only her trust in God keeps her sane.
“No matter what anyone told me, it was not helping, only when I started to worship, then I began to feel better. I would have gotten mad by now. I will not blame God, he will never give me more than I can bear.
"As much as I miss my husband and I wish he was right here with me right now, I trust God.”
Her advice to other wives who may have lost their husband under similar circumstances is trust in God.
“Trust God. Draw your strength straight from him as much as you want to. Don’t question why but hold on to God, trust in him.