September 22, 2011 is a day I will never forget. I have attempted to write this post several times and could not seem to make it to the end due to the difficulty. I started writing this on September 24 and below is the raw pain at that time and I have continued adding to it the days that have passed.
I am 36 hours past one of the roughest moments in my life-the execution of my wonderful, sweet and awesome brother-in-law. Where the “in-law” part is really formality, for he was my brother and I was his sister. I even struggle with now whether to say “is” vs. “was”. A simple decision like that causes the tears to flow.
My emotions are very raw and I don’t adequately have the words to describe the intensity of the pain and hurt we all feel. I have extreme sadness and extreme anger simultaneously competing for space in my heart.
Sadness for the loss I deeply and personally feel. Sadness that I’m only left with memories of him, but void of him completely. Sadness that I no longer have the ability to see him, hug him and hear his voice. Sadness of all the things I will miss hearing him say. Sadness that the world did not get a chance to see and experience what a wonderful human being he was.
Anger at the cause of his death because it seems senseless, even though it was a consequence of previous behavior. Anger at our unfair legal system that allows and promotes death as payment for death. Anger that we watched innocently a perfectly healthy human being lose his life as we all watched him slip away within minutes. Here at 6:26 pm and gone at 6:27 pm. How is that even supposed to make sense or compute in my brain? Anger at those who “could” have done something, but cowardly chose not to for reasons beyond my comprehension.
The Bible says that death has a sting and I can emphatically say that is true. It stings, it burns, and it plainly hurts. I continue to struggle and daily have to come to grips with the finality of it all.That is the part that is consistently waving mentally through my head and my heart-that this is final and that Derrick is not coming back, not today, not tomorrow, and not in 20 years. FINAL. Finality stings really bad.
Other emotions that continue to surface are the constant reminders that he is dead. One example is the day after the funeral, I drove back to Birmingham and was off that day. I came home and took the opportunity to go to the grocery store while the kids were at school. As I was coming out of the grocery store, I thought to myself it was different shopping at 12 noon by yourself versus 5 pm with two kids. Then my next thought was the only reason I was able to shop at 12 noon and that I was not at work at that hour was because Derrick was dead. The tears started to flow right there in the Publix parking lot.
Other reminders surface when the house telephone rings…I think “Oh, it’s Derrick” but I remember that Derrick is dead. He was the only one that truly called our house number except telemarketers. So hearing the telephone ring is a trigger.
Another reminder is traveling down Interstate 65 South…recently I had to do this for a work trip I was headed to in Orange Beach. As I got closer to exit 57, emotions rose high and my mind played back all the events that happened the last time I was on that road. I vividly started to remember the last visit at the prison, the last hugs, and I remember the long drive back to the hotel after the execution. Sobering thoughts. But all thoughts that remind me that Derrick is no longer here. I often tell my husband that I am tired of talking about Derrick in the past tense. That is my feeble way of saying that I desperately wish I could talk about him in the present tense and wish he was here today.
We are past 36 hours and now at 30 days since the dreaded event. Do I feel better than I did on September 24? Not much different inside, but externally I have managed to cry 3-4 days a week instead of daily. Maybe that’s progress. I am not sure what future progress looks like and I am not sure what it feels like either. I wonder if the sting will lessen one day and I will no longer feel the sting and I will just know there is a scar there. With each new day, I continue to feel the sting.
I pray that one day, the tears will get further apart, the bad memories will fade into the distance and it is all replaced with a calming peace and remembrances of only the good times. And that those memories (good times) will bring a smile instead of a tear. I can only hope…