“I’m saving a dollar a day to throw a party on the day he fries.”
This was whispered to me on my walk between the witness room and the courtroom during the trial by someone hurting for a loved one of the 1993 Chuck E Cheese murders.
Was she wrong? was she justified? was she just saying that? What did I believe? Should we kill another person to make things “right?” What is justice? will this bring peace to anyone?
Over the last 19 years this is just one of many contradictions I hold in my head. It’s like some sort of gnarly moral entanglement that is so often the source of the anger, guilt, distress I feel at times like this.
After an event like this your world is very quick to attempt to soothe away the gnarliness. It’s God’s plan. It was fate. Everything happens for a reason. Memorial services. Vigils. TV specials. Therapists. Help lines. “Get back up on that horse.”, Why Bad Things Happen To Good People readings, commemorative T-Shirts.
Some of these sentiments and activities are temporarily helpful. However, what was in my head and still hangs about there sometimes in the darkest ways…
nothing matters. it’s all random. why bother.
After I stew on that for awhile I usually flip over to…
everything matters. make it matter. live like you are dying. get after every moment.
Obviously after 19 years the more positive outlook that making it matter has won out more times than it’s lost. By no means though do I have resolution. You almost feel forced into the positive. If one goes all in on nothing matters, why bothers, you get your answer clearly. Unfortunately, it feels, if you go all in on everything matters, make it matter you may not get a clear “yup, this is right. it all does matter!”
I think the easy resolutions of these big questions is what leads to the profound loneliness I feel occasionally. Hanging on to one of these resolutions like “it was all part of the plan” despite everything in your experience suggesting otherwise makes you afraid to be upset, to disagree, to wail against this comfort. To this day I’m very upset at the idea that 4 of my coworkers should have been killed because that was part of some grand design for my life or the greater good. That always sounds so good in abstract when it’s not you having to live with this unknown plan or your not related to one of those that died. Want pressure? that’s pressure. having people tell you and make you believe that your life is somehow worth more than someone else’s and then you go on living without some obvious sign that it is.
I didn’t go to the memorial service, didn’t go to any vigils, could barely speak to Bobby. Maybe I didn’t want to feel the implied pressure or the pressure I was putting on myself.
Everyone’s life is worth the same. Whether that’s everything or nothing, I don’t know.