Sunday, June 28, 2015

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth...just what is that exactly?

"I want the truth!"
"You can't handle the truth!"
Anyone who is at least somewhat familiar with dramatic 1990 movies should recognize these lines from A Few Good Men. I happened to catch it on PBS last night and watched it though I also own the movie, having recently acquired it at a rummage sale about a month ago. It's an interesting movie to watch, the characters trying to get to the core truth of a murder that happened on a military base. At first glance, it seemed like an open and shut deal but the reality was far different and getting to the truth underneath it all would be more difficult.

It was that way, I think, with Irvin's murder 12 years ago. The question that was always asked was "why?" It was asked of my sister, asked of me. The question was asked at each of my parents' trials and we never got that answer, not really. And that has probably been the most difficult thing about the whole event, I think. We never got the truth of what was really behind the events of that day.

After my mother went to prison, I established communication with her. There was this period where she would tell me how it wasn't planned. It was her defense the whole time both during the trial and after. They didn't plan it. If they had planned it, surely they would have done a better job than just appearing at my apartment and shooting him in front of witnesses (very comforting Mom). I finally had to really sit down and write her a letter and tell her point blank that I did not believe her; I would never believe her and if she continued to talk about how the whole thing wasn't planned, I would stop talking to her because it didn't matter to me if they had planned it or not. The results were still the same. A man was dead and I saw my father kill him. The next time she called, she apologized and told me she would never bring it up again and to this day, she hasn't.

Having been in the dialectical behavior therapy program for about two and a half years now, I have come to slowly radically accept the fact that 1. I will never find out the truth and 2. there may very well be no more to it than a case of severe dis-regulation. In other words, this may likely have been no more than a crime of passion, a snap of the mental senses, a severe lapse of judgement leading to an event that affected many lives and ended one.

I don't think it was quite that simple though. There were things leading up to the event to suggest that it would lead to it. And like an inevitable train wreck, all I could do was stand there and watch; I couldn't do anything to stop it. I couldn't do anything to stop it. I warned Irvin my mother was making threats. I called the police the night before, trying to get my apartment keys because my mother was acting crazy. My sister, Irvin, and I were even trying to figure out how to get my mother put into the psychiatric unit. And in the end, all I could do was stand there, frozen, and watch my father shoot my brother-in-law from across my living room.

Can I handle the truth? Is there even any now after 12 years that my parents would even remember? Time messes with our heads, changes memories, puts in justifications and excuses that were not there previously. Is there a truth to be found anymore? It is extremely likely I will never know the why behind it all; I will never know what they were thinking in the hours and minutes before and even after Irvin was killed. And to be honest, I don't know if I really want to know.

My sister still tries to seek it out but from the other side. She has learned things about her first husband that may supposedly justify my parents' actions. What does that even matter? What does it change? He's still dead. My parents are still in prison and they will DIE in prison. I will get a phone call someday informing of me their death and that will be the end. And that day will come far sooner than I will be ready for it.

The carousel never stops turning. Whether I know the truth or not, I must go on and live my life because it is the only life I have to live. What happened, they did. They had the power to stop it and they chose not to. And THAT is the truth.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Thoughts on an article I read with another anniversary looming near...

I follow a number of pages on Facebook, one being for the American Humanist Association. An article came up today, titled Should Humanists Oppose Life Sentences Without Parole? You can read it here:
June 28th will be the 12 year anniversary of the murder of my younger sister's first husband, a murder committed by my father, instigated by my mother. I was a witness to that murder, front row seats, if you will. It was in my apartment and he died in my room after my father kicked my bedroom door open and shot him two more times following the first shot. During 2004, I testified at both of their separate trials. I waited for the jury to come back (with an almost hung jury for my dad's trial) I was there for both of their sentencings and read an impact statement at my dad's sentencing. Both were found guilty and both were sentenced to life without parole. The other option would have been to possibly eligible for parole in 20 years. My parents were 58 at the time of their sentencing so 20 years would have been nearly the rest of their lives anyway but as neither one showed remorse for killing my brother-in-law, they received the maximum sentence.

They've been incarcerated nearly 12 years; 10-11 years in prison itself. While I oppose the death penalty, I can't go so far as to oppose life sentences without parole. I definitely think that there are some people who should never be able to get out and victims/families of victims should not have to worry about these kinds of people getting out and wreaking havoc all over again. As for my parents, that's a hard one. Too many things happened where they did not have to be held accountable for their actions. Granted, both of my parents struggled with mental illnesses but at the same time, they got minimum amount of help for it. They often placed the blame on the rest of us and made us kids look like we were the crazy ones while making themselves look completely and totally normal. People fell for it too and because of that, they rarely suffered any consequences for their actions. Due to that, I feel, their behavior escalated. They became more and more disregulated and age, I'm sure, didn't help. It took them killing someone before something was finally done. And so they are where they are and will be for the rest of their lives and I feel that for them, that's for the best. I don't hate them and I have more or less forgiven them (at least in the sense that I am able to move on with my life and have at least kind of a relationship with them--on my terms) but I have no doubt that they are where they need to be. I would maybe consider a situation where their only other option was to be sent to a hospice, having reached a point of age or mental/physical deterioration where all they could do would be the live comfortably until they died. And so I see some points for the article but ultimately, I simply don't agree with opposing life in prison without parole as I think it is needed, if for no other reason than to provide peace of mind for the victims/families of the victims and not force them to be re-victimized through a parole hearing.