DeliaBlack's Blog

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JULY 12, 2010 8:44PM

Grateful

Rate: 52 Flag

Yesterday at a store, I saw an old acquaintance.  I was in a hurry to get ready for the once-monthly meal I help organize and I needed filling for our sandwiches, which were to feature BBQ 'pulled pork.'  I went to the deli to ask if they carried it, my eyes scanning for an available worker to query.  That's when I saw her.  I knew she worked there sometimes, but still I didn't expect to be face-to-face. As soon as I recognized her, I started, then turned as if to flee, before making myself turn back and ask someone else what I wanted.  'Act normal,' I told myself.  She managed to.  She just kept talking to a coworker, though I know she must have seen me. 

She is the mother of my father's murderer.

Once I left the deli, I tried to walk with purpose as long as I would have been within her line of sight, but when I turned a corner, I lost it a bit.  Just a bit.  I cried a little, walked aimlessly, thinking how tired I was of this.  The murderer pled guilty and was sentenced to life without parole.  His sister also works at that same store.  I ran into her four years ago right after the murder.  She started, then turned as if to flee, before making herself turn back.  It must be an automatic reaction.  We are cousins.   Those years ago, when I was dazed and raw with pain, I went over to her and kissed her on the cheek.  She was crying, but I wanted her to know I wouldn't hold her responsible.  How could I?

Some months back her father committed suicide.  I wonder how they told the murderer, who is in a prison hours away.  The wife--the one I saw at the deli--must have found her dead husband.  Having been at the clean up of the crime scene of a loved one, I wondered who cleaned up their crime scene.  I didn't know what to do, so I went to the funeral.  The daughter sent a cousin back to tell me to leave.

One of my aunts, well-meaning, later asked me what I had done.  If we had had words.  It made me so angry.  That is the problem.  We have no words.

Now the murderer's accomplice, who is not a family member, is due to be released.  The LATEST she will stay in is until the end of this month.  Her parents are in town.  She will probably return.  Her three children do not live in a good situation.  I worry for them.  I can pray, but I can do nothing else.

I wonder when I will see her, the accomplice.  I remember her parents weeping as she pled guilty.  She has been in jail just over two years.  I begged the prosecutor not to offer her a deal.  I begged the advocate in his office to have him meet with the family about this.  He would not.

Days before the accomplice pled guilty, she had a quickie court appearance.  I attended alone.  Suddenly, the 'victims' rights advocate' taps me on the shoulder in the courtroom and tells me that the prosecutor is waiting across the hall between hearings and has a second to meet with me.

Little did I suspect the ambush.

I walked into a room filled with several attorneys.  (Is that why it smelled of shit?)  The DA was already worked up, and he pounced.  I won't pretend to remember all he said, but it went something like this.

"She has three charges.  Three charges.  Normally people walk for any one of those charges.  There's only one charge that concerns you.  Normally accessory after the fact doesn't get ANY time.    If you don't believe me, you can walk down the hall, and see two people plead guilty to accessory after the fact for TWO murders and they're going home today.  You should be grateful that she's getting any time at all."  He was getting louder toward the end, not screaming, but yelling.  He pointed down the hall as he spoke of the two pleas.

I can't remember saying anything.  I was shocked, and I think I just shuffled away.  Where was my rage when I needed it?  Where was the endless bitterness that kept me up at nights?  I feel so angry at so many things, so ugly sometimes, but that is better than despair. It gives me energy. "My chains and I grew friends."  I told a counselor some months back that I had not yet felt angry at the actual murderer.  I had seen too much of his awful life as he grew up next door.

"We'll have to work on finding that, your anger toward him," she said.  I thought she was eyeing me with theories on what I did with the anger he deserved.  I feel more now than before that she is right, but I never went back.

When I think about how the girl, the accomplice, should have gotten many more charges for leaving my father to bleed to death from wounds during a robbery that she helped plan, when I think how she told the murderer to go back into the house to rob again across from his body on the next night, when I think of my father becoming their human atm and how he was left with no face, when I tell myself that if he were something more 'important' than a shipyard worker, she would have gotten more time...When I tell myself this,  I have to tell myself that if my father were different, a different race or poorer or someone who had run-ins with the law or maybe a gay person or someone who has to beg for rights, then she probably would have gotten even less time.  I remember telling God early on that I could not live, that I would not live if she got no time at all.  That I refused to stay in this world.  He must have known I was serious.  But how many other people have told him the same thing?

At the beach last year I saw him walking.  The DA moved swiftly in shiny shorts with his wife.  Our eyes met, he started, and jerked his head down, then stared straight ahead, tightening his jaw but moving faster, as if to flee.

I held my gaze, relishing his discomfort.  Fuck you, I thought back then.  Unchristian, I know.  I try to tell myself I would not want his job. He once told my family that sometimes you have to make deals with the devil.  But I think of his anger at me.  For what?  For advocating for my murdered father?  He should save his rage for the criminals.

She may be out today. Under this same sky.  I will get a letter eventually announcing what I have already called to find out.  Will she rush into her children's arms?  Will she see this as a second chance at life?  Will she treat them much better than before?  Should she be set free when I am still trying?

I had 28 years with my father.  He was not perfect.  At times we barely spoke.  We had recently gotten into a better relationship than ever before, but still he would not let himself be known.  He had too many scars, I guess.  Virtually everything I know of his life came from someone else.  He was the least accessible person I have ever known.  But I loved him.  And I told him.  And I know he loved me.  That is more than many people get, I tell myself.  You should be grateful. 

 

 

 

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so hard....I hope that you have strong people around you now who will love you through this.
with tears in my eyes I leave you a worthless rating Delia..
oh my, this was hard to read. As if its not hard enough to go through what you had and still have to go through, to think of the DA treating you like this is reprehensible. He has to live with himself, though - I don't know how they do it. I am hoping that writing this for us has helped your heart, Delia.
Oh, my goodness, Delia! What an event to try to get over especially when it keeps slapping you in the face all the time. That one sentence: She is the mother of my father's murderer, nearly stopped my heart. My admiration for you grew and grew as I read this haunting chronicle. The few details of your father's death were enough for me. I often talk about the ripples that we put out into the world, mostly in a positive context but you are dealing with dark ripples that came from people's decisions. I live in a small area and I visualized what it would feel like to run into one of the people involved. It felt creepy. Creepy as hell from a distance; from an imagination. I can not process what it would be like to experience it over and over and over again as you have. I wish I could have you over to my deck to share a cold drink and listen to my waterfall to try and take this away, if only for a moment or two. I will never forget this.
Delia,
When I saw your name pop up with a post, I was so pleased as I have always enjoyed your writing and have been gone for a while myself. I see it has been a hiatus for you--you have come back with all of this to write about.
I hope that you have some strong support from family and friends and I will be watching for your futher posts. Do take care of yourself.
Stephanie
this is so visceral, that if it is not authentic, I will be sorely disappointed. For if genuine, it is writing as it "real" and as it healing if we have the faith. that is little recompense but to a writer it is all we have.
This was a remarkable insight into the painful and unjust justice system which cries for reform. Well written and utterly difficult to process because it is indeed so painful. R
Seeing these people connected to your father's murder is way beyond uncomfortable. I admire your courage and your advocacy for your father.
RATED
So sorry, dear woman. So sorry.

I think the DA was angry at you because he was really angry with himself. He knew it was wrong, what she got and that the people down the hall weren't getting anything. He's angry that you knew, too. He knows you know.

You are strong and brave when you write about this, and we all learn from you.

thank you and xo
The worst things about all the negative stereotypes about lawyers are the lawyers who give them credibility, time and time again.
You're stronger than I am Delia; I wouldn't be able to live in that town near those people. Here's hoping peace comes your way.
Brave to write about and sorry to hear this sad story. R for courage.
I don't think I could do what you do, I really don't.
no words do this justice.
I read this last night and was left speechless by the cruelty of injustice and the helpless feeling that nothing I or anyone can say will rectify it. I read it again this morning and find that I still am left with both these feelings. My heart goes out to you. And still, I cannot imagine what it must feel like to be and have to continue to live as the mother of a murderer.
Delia, I am so sorry that this is your experience. There are no good words. I wish you peace.
Delia,
i say this with all honesty. I think this is the best and hardest thing I've ever read here. I'm so sorry for your loss, your pain, your anger. I wish you peace.
Such a challenge to find a peaceful life after tragedy when the reminders are like landmines everywhere.
You expressed yourself with great spiritual power. R for your ability to absorb and share so much. As an attorney I think the DA probably feld deep discomfort with what part of his job is. Much like the murderer's family feel discomfort. It is so hard to deal fully with such an event and with such pain.
This is so heavy I cannot find the words. You are brave beyond any paltry sentence I can imagine. Words from the heart are with you.
You write of this with such clarity, yet such raw honesty. I know there's nothing I can say or do, except hold this in my heart as a prayer for continued healing, insight, and peace . . .
Oh, Delia, my heart goes out to you. I have no words to make any of this better. I believe I would have collapsed by now. The only comfort I can offer is the knowing of the fact that you were much loved by your father. He's with you still. He gives you strength.
This is well written, Delia, conveying your pain, confusion, and conflicting emotions toward the murderer's family, who are also your family. It is also very honest; I appreciate that you do not pretend to a better relationship with your father than you had, for instance.

I wish you peace and whatever understanding and reconciliation is possible for what's left of the family.
You write this with frightening clarity, because it is firghtening to get this glimpse into how you live with such injustice.
You do it with courage, and an amazing talent.
You're amazing - writer, daughter, human being.
I hope to never know these experiences, but through your writing I now can imagine how the rage gets quashed at times. I'm sorry you are so frequently and blatantly reminded. It has to be harder than so much of life...it certainly is unfair.
I think maybe the only shoes as hard to walk in as yours would be those of the murderer's mother. I cannot even fathom how she must feel knowing her child took someone's life, or to look into your face and know the pain her child caused you. I am so sorry for all the pain you must live with. The DA -- I believe he lied when he said you "have to" make deals with the devil. It's not "have to" it's "choose to" - won't even go there. (r)
Oh, Delia, I am so sorry. This is so wrong, yet what can we do? You are strong and brave, and you bring such clarity to this horrible situation. xoxo
Peace be with you. This is a hard told tale. My son of 21 was murdered in Mississippi last year. Your tale tears my heart as it is to true and to much the same.
Strength, peace and love.
rated
Omgod Delia, what an amazingly brutal story also amazingly well-told. I have never been in such a situation but your writing put me in your situation and wow, such fury I feel. What are you going to do when you see her if you do? I would think long and hard about that one. Nothing will bring your dad back, most unfortunately. What a story. What a mess! What a tragedy! R
there is no way to be grateful with those circumstances- no way. Graceful maybe (and you are full of grace, no doubt), but grateful? That is too much to expect of even a saint.
Wow. I always say the Nasty Life experiences, sad and tragic, and very bewildering ...
are the real Life altering `Lessons.
It's gonna be okay in some `Perspective.
Hang in there, and congrats`Editor Pick!
Sigh.
You reminded me of walking into a Amish Grange Hall. It was a winter Farm Meeting about grass fed cows, and No hormone use when raising dairy cows for milk. PA is great about milkinh cows just one time per day.
Commercial greed milkers give little money for weight per gallons of milk and corrupt people control milk/grain prices. Crooks! The local Mennonites tell me what's happening. Discrn these creeps and we need to cope.
To Pray is A`okay.
I do not know why.
Life can be so cruel.
foci. I'll try. O, okay.`
The Amish gathering`
AS soon as walked in the Place I smelled bar manure that was on the men boots of the dairy farmers. The woman smelled like sweet raw fresh milk. It took me awhile to adjust to the initial smell shock. I got used to the smell and forgot about the odor. What Good milk and food!
`
Unrelated. I was tried by a District Attorney in the commonwealth of PA.
I was refused a Trial By Jury. The Judge was corrupt. No attorney would help. The DA died, and later I heard my likable, and sympathetic probation officer died. I don't know the Cause & Why. I loads-loads -
of good money.
Kim lost home,
Laundry mat,
health, hope.
`
Maybe these sort of nasty critter steo from a Yellow Limo post croak in a pink Tux?
The fake wig tutus?
They hop into hell?
After getting out of the limo there is a great and terrible Hail Storm? Who knows?
Crooks cry sad tears?
They get hell bruised?
They shuffle in jail cells?
They get a funky panties?
The afterlife is stinky crap?
They get holes in their socks?
Tolstoy writes `Resurrection.
It's a good read `None Judge.
I wish You all Transcend this.
Great 'stuff' comes from bad.
There is injustice and bad foe.
Garrison Keillor radio airing?
Try to look up Yesterday's air?
There's a poem about` Finger!

Giggle. It made me smile, wow!
Life can be harsh. Have unions!
Reunions and a Reconciliation!
Best luck. Ya already have luck.
I don't know how anybody ever gets past something as horrible as this, yet you write with such clarity. You obviously have many strengths. I hope they will sustain you.
Strong writing on a topic so awful you never should have had to write it.
Sigh! It's never-ending, isn't it? Some things seem too horrible to ever get over. And although my mother didn't face a brutal, violent end, I was crying only yesterday for her, dead now 42 years. All we can really do is try to be strong and live a positive life.....so cliche yet so incredibly hard sometimes....
The lawyer sounds like a fucking moron. I hate insult to injury like this. But unfort, that's when it tends to happen - when you're down and feel awful and are amidst a crazy legal circumstance.

Wait, first off, this is a wonderfully crafted piece. People who've gone through similar situations should be able to benefit from such a piece. They should know the intracacies of emotions you so aptly retell.

Secondly, come visit me. Sounds like a good time to get out of Dodge for a bit and just relax. The Jersey shore in late summer/early fall is the best. I feel like you need a break from that scene. They need to be put in boxes somehow, somewhere, and put on shelves. This can't keep actively damaging you. Or...I don't want it to.
Also thought for a while about the title of your piece. I wonder if there's some peace in that title, somewhere. You endured - and are still enduring - a horrific experience. But maybe its time to look forward and...oh god, I hate when I do this on OS - give advice. That's not what it's about. Its so presumptuous. But grateful...a powerful word that can shift our perspective. When I have nothing else going on - when I feel devoid of hope - I shift to gratitude out of necessity. And sometimes, sometimes, it works. Come to Jersey shore!
Thanks so much! I would love to come visit you! Maybe I will make it!
delia, been gone from open salon a long time. just read this. wow. i hope you are still writing. i see this as a great film. san shepherd directing and writing screenplay.
reading this, I nearly...nearly, felt your pain. Thank you for sharing. rated with compassion.