No Celebrations

tears_of_sadnessToday is my anniversary. If I could find a less ‘romantic’ word for today I certainly would, but today I celebrate twenty-eight years since I lived beyond when I should have lived, beyond the day three miscreants tried to take my life with three bullets. Today I woke up and it was my twenty-eighth year of life beyond the day they attempted to take my life and certainly changed my world forever.

I wish I could say today was just like any other day. It is not.

I wish I could say I do not feel it, that I do not know what today is. The truth is, I do know and it affects my outlook and my ability to see the world entirely positively.

I wish I could say today was just like any other day, but it isn’t. Today is different. Today marks the day twenty-eight years ago my world changed. It marks the day my sons, my husband, my parents, my siblings, my nieces and nephews, my friends everyone who knew me or would know me in the future had to embrace a different me and had to face that I might have died. Those are difficult truths.

Those early years, they were hard on all of us. The recovery was hard. The daily struggle to get through the day was hard. Pain sometimes brought me to my knees, begging God to please kill me, don’t demand I live like this with no recourse, no relief. Then, finally learning I could live with pain, it just required adjustments, some days without crushing nrm_1413410111-storm2pain or finally that pain was simply my new norm and we can learn to live with anything. The refusal to resort to pain medications, to live in a haze saved my sanity even when everyone around me thought I was crazy; maybe it was just that I was so damned mean and I was driving them crazy.

Then came the results of those strokes I had on the operating table, the gift that keeps giving. Epilepsy in two forms and the early medications that put me right into the fog I had tried to avoid. Medications I might add that did not stop the seizures only turned me into a drooling zombie incapable of even minimal adult functions. I was finally blessed with a doctor who weaned me off those killers onto something that allowed me to live fog free but mostly seizure free too, I only had to give up alcohol. Fair trade, I guess.

Twenty-eight years, today. There are days I am still furious at the series of events. There are days I am furious at a society that enabled those events to happen. There are days I am enraged at those three young men who are now all walking the streets, free having never shown remorse for their actions. I wonder though, what do they think of their actions, what are their thoughts after all these years? Do they think of their victims and the grievous harm they did in the name of racial hate and wanting to ‘kill white people’? Has their hate changed or was it solidified during the years they were incarcerated?

During the past twenty years I have spent my time trying to do right, trying to work toward peace for my soul and my spirit. Trying to create forgiveness even where there was no remorse. Trying to work for a better justice system, one of reconciliation and growth rather than simply incarceration and warehousing. One thing I have consistently justicereformfound, we are all of us human; there but for the grace of God go I. None of us are without our own choices, our own failures, our own sins. The difference is some of us have been more fortunate in our outcomes. I use to say there could be no forgiveness without remorse, that I did not need to forgive my offenders that was between them and the God they worship. I still believe this. The difference is now, I had to let go of their punishment. I had to stop demanding my pound of flesh and leave that to fate, this was a hard lesson.

Twenty-eight years, they got time but I got life. Their acts shortened my life so all the medical professionals tell me. This may be true. Yet their acts hastened my learning. I have found peace and accepted my truths much earlier in life than many of my friends. Perhaps this is the gift inside of the terrible. I struggle with this day even all these years later, maybe I will struggle with this day for the rest of my life. Today though I will try to be grateful I have had twenty-eight extra years.

To read more:

Crime and Punishment

Comments

  1. I’ve been reading you for a long time but somehow never knew this story. I can only imagine your emotions every year as February 7 rolls around. Glad you survived, even if the pain is ever-present.

  2. I read and felt every word you’ve written here.
    I’ve read your previous posts when you talked of the three young people who acted out the hate of their race for the hate of the others who hate them.
    I’ve been listening to Pete Seeger singing where have all the flowers gone, this morning, and somehow it ties in with your words… when will we ever learn.
    Your eloquent moving words show how we can learn – giving up the need for a pound of flesh, with love, Valerie

    • That ‘giving up’ was a long journey Valerie. There were a good many years where my fury burned pretty hot and I did not believe there was anything that would cool it down. I love Pete Seeger, you are right that song is a wonderful encapsulation.

      I loved seeing your name here this morning!!

  3. I had no idea this happened. I can’t imagine having gone through any of this. You are strong, my friend.

  4. Renee Schuls-Jacobson says:

    Val, I just wrote you a very long response and tried to post it on your blog. It is just not letting me do it. I don’t remember my WordPress login.

    (((shrug)))

    Anyway, I just wanted to say happy anniversary. I’m glad you’re still on the planet. I’ve been reading along all this time and your writing grows more and more beautiful.

    Like you.

    Please excuse any errors. This message was sent from my wireless thingamajiggy.

    >

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