still processing.

July 5, 2010 in about me,annoyances,beliefs,family,life,thoughts

This past Tuesday I came face to face with one of the men that shot and killed my grandfather 19 years ago. It was the first time I have ever seen him in person. I meant to write about this Tuesday night, but, honestly, it took me a while to digest what had happened.

I met my family in downtown Cleveland at the Federal courthouse. I’ve never been in a courtroom before. Federal Courtrooms are… intimidating… even for law-abiding citizens such as myself. We were there because the man who was convicted of murdering my grandfather, whom is on death row, is claiming a mistrial in 1991.

Here is the deal: I don’t want my grandfathers killer to be executed. This isn’t always a popular opinion, but I really don’t think that you understand until you are part of the victims family. Let me explain. It’s taken me a long time to deal with everything you have to deal with when someone you love is murdered; I didn’t live a “normal” childhood because of it; I was overly sensitive to things a child should not even be aware of.

But I forgave the men who killed my grandfather. I forgave them because it’s exhausting carrying around that much hatred for someone. I decided that I didn’t want him to be executed because, let’s face it, playing God and choosing who lives and who dies just breeds more hatred in the world. He may be a horrible man, but he is a man with a family; he is a man with people who love him and people who would be destroyed if he was executed. And, truth be told, I do not want anyone to feel like I’ve taken away someone they love; I’ve felt that pain. No one should have to feel it

All this being said, I still want him to be in prison forever. And he’s claiming that the reason he found himself in this situation, is because of the way he was raised and the extremely messed up childhood he had. Let me tell you, he HAD a messed up childhood. I’ll give you that. His mother was a drug addict and alcoholic. He and his mother were beat by his stepfather.

But we all have a story. You can either choose to let it define you, or you can call it a life experience and move on. I’m not saying that these moments don’t change us, cause surely they do. All I’m saying is you take from it what you want to take from it.

We all have things happen to us that help to shape us as individuals — both good things and bad things. But we decide what to do with those experiences. We decide whether to take them and grow from them, or take them and demolish our lives in the name of our tragedies. You create your fate. You decide whether or not you shoot someone. You are in control of your own life.

Basically, I’m not sure what this blog post is about. I have been thinking about getting this out all week, and I am still unsuccessful. Oh well…

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

TheAnalyst July 5, 2010 at 2:44 am

I'm sorry you have to deal with this all over again. No one likes the ghosts from the past to return, let alone one this traumatic. But you sound like you are coping with this the best way you can and maybe that is all you can do at the moment.

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chiara July 5, 2010 at 3:44 am

I am really impressed by what you wrote.
As part of the victim's family, I'd have expected you to want this man to be executed as soon as possible. I like how you rationalized that too much hatred is impossible to carry, and that nobody can play God. I totally agree with that, but being you part of the victim's family makes these words even more powerful. In this moment, I really do admire you for what you have been able to write.
As for the influence of upbringings… I do agree that we always have a choice. But the choice to get out of such a sad situation, as the one you describe, requires a strength that not everybody has.
I realize that most of my behaviour depends on how I was raised, even some of the behaviours I don't like. And my family was nothing like the one you describe. It's not easy to find a way out of such a situation.
Hope I was clear…

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Chelsi July 5, 2010 at 5:25 am

I agree with many of the points you have made. I don't have a similar story but in a way it relates…

My dad was killed in a car wreck in 95 by an 18 yr old hitting him broadside. My dad died instantly (thank God he didn't suffer.) Our family and insurance company sued for wrongful death which was paid out by his insurance co. I went through a bunch of interrogations as their lawyers were trying to prove that he was a bad father, etc… lawsuits get so ugly. Anyway, eventhough I was only 9 I remembered this guys name and that he was going into the military that summer. Five years ago I was listening to a local radio station and they did a story on him. He ended up being a stellar soldier that did a ton of great things for our country. He was married and had three young kids… he was killed in Iraq.

I felt awful. I felt awful for his family… kids, wife. I guess the point of my story is that although this guy did a stupid thing that took away a precious life that I miss dearly, I would have never wished death apon him and was sad for all he had to have gone through after the accident and then to die before he was 30. 🙁

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Amanda July 5, 2010 at 12:10 pm

I think its great that you were able to write about this!!! I agree that it is strange that we play God and can choose who lives and who dies. I think that you're right in saying that you would never know how to feel about the death penelty unless you were part of a victims family.

I've always thought let the punishment fit the crime, but on the same token you have to consider the people in that persons life!

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Chelle July 5, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Thank you for sharing this with us. I tell my students we have a suitcase of baggage we carry through life. Everyone carries different issues that were created in our childhoods, but it is a choice to open that suitcase, sift through it, throw things away or keep it in our adult lives. Or to continue to carry it and let it define us by weighing us down. I'm proud of you for letting this go. It can't be easy and i suspect there are some in your family who completely disagree with you. In the end, you have to do what is best for you.

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Lil' Woman July 5, 2010 at 3:22 pm

I'm so sorry you have to go through this and have had to endure this man's mistake your whole life. It is honorable that you were able to forgive him but I don't know if I could be that strong, but to each their own.

Sending love and hugs darlin!!

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dreaming in pink and green July 5, 2010 at 9:36 pm

This is a wonderful post. That is so strong and brave of you to forgive. I can only imagine how carrying around so much hurt and hate can take it's toll on you. The way you wrote it was really eye-opening and makes me thinks of things in a new way.

“We all have a story. You can either choose to let it define you or you can call it a life experience and move on!”

I am thinking of you and wishing you comfort and strength during such a difficult and emotional time. We are all here to listen and support you.

Lots of love to you xoxo

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Mich July 6, 2010 at 2:35 am

this post touches my heart in so many ways.

first – it shows just how mature and wonderful a person you are. you aren't letting the hate and/or pain run your life. you are bigger and better than it and you know it. kudos to you for that. it takes an amazing person to be that strong.

second – as i'm sure you've read on my blog in the past, i lost my sister in a “accident” that under technical reasons was someone's (her boyfriend's) fault. my parents still carry around that hate and anger towards him. I couldn't. After the trial and getting the answers we needed on what really happened, i let it all go. yes it still hurts when i think about my sister but i don't have any ill feelings towards him. I know the situation is a bit different than yours but i completely know what you mean when you say “you cant understand until you are part of the victims family”. thats exactly it. no one can say how to feel until they are in your shoes.

and third – i agree with you about his life and whether or not it should be taken. i don't think we as humans should have that right. i personally could never be the person to make that decision because i would feel just as much of a “murderer”.

im sorry you had to face him, i can only imagine the flood of emotions you went through. and more importantly, thank you for having the courage to post this.

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Jen July 6, 2010 at 3:01 am

All I can say honey is that I am thinking of you and hoping you can find some peace and relief in all of this…if that is even possible. You are a SUPER strong woman and I think you have some incredible views on life… and death. Stay strong sweetheart 🙂

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Fizzgig July 6, 2010 at 2:47 pm

ugh, this is just awful, and im sorry you had to go through it!

but, what I sincerely hate, is when people blame their past, or growing up for things they CHOOSE to do in life. Life is a choice, you can choose to let bad things make you bad, or make you better.

Life doesnt happen to you, you make it happen.

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Katelin July 6, 2010 at 11:33 pm

oh man that is just awful and i can definitely see how you are in a tough situation. but either way it's good to just get it out there even if you didn't really know what you wanted to say.

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Jessica July 7, 2010 at 5:52 am

I think that while I can't understand the situation that you're in completely, I definitely understand where you're coming from.

I liked your line, “I decided that I didn't want him to be executed because, let's face it, playing God and choosing who lives and who dies just breeds more hatred in the world.” It just makes me cry that people can do such awful things, but is it really US that should make the life or death decision?

*touchy subject*

So sorry that you've had to live with this, but I'm happy to see that you've taken all of the positive that you can possibly take from the situation.

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Carolyn July 7, 2010 at 7:14 pm

I agree – you are coping amazingly and have such a mature view of the situation. I cannot imagine how hard that must've been for you and your family. Much love xoxo

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Krystyn July 9, 2010 at 3:03 am

I can't imagine having to go through that and trying to figure out what you would want. But, I think you are an amazingly brave and strong person for knowing your feelings.

And, my favorite line you wrote is “You can either choose to let it define you, or you can call it a life experience and move on.”

I think I might put that up as a poster in my class room.

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Charlotte July 9, 2010 at 6:26 pm

I don't think this is an unsuccessful blog post at all. I applaud you for putting your thoughts down on paper (or via blog), just because it means you are processing everything and trying to think rationally of a really upsetting situation. Good for you for allowing forgiveness into your heart. It may not be the popular opinion, but it's a mature one and also a very difficult one to make. I can't imagine how difficult this all must be, but you are handling it with such grace and poise. Hopefully this decision brings you the peace and comfort you need.

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Shell July 9, 2010 at 7:07 pm

I stopped over from Jessica's blog and she's right- this is a very powerful post!

I very much agree that its up to us to decide whether we are going to let our bad childhoods negatively affect our lives or if we are going to choose a different path.

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Haleigh July 13, 2010 at 12:05 am

I am going to borrow part of your post if you do not mind. “we all have a story. You can either choose to let it define you, or you can call it a life experience and move on.”

Thank you for sharing your personal stories and thoughts! I wish your family a good outcome

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