September 25 – the National Day of Remembrance for Homicide Victims. Those of us who have lost a loved one (or loved ones as in my case) don’t really need a special day in which to remember them. They are with us every moment of every day. They were torn away from us so quickly and so violently, it’s sometimes hard to believe that it really happened. It seems ludicrous and unreal one moment, and hopelessly, devastatingly real in the next moment. Memories makes us cry and laugh – sometimes at the same time. The emotional upheaval is almost debilitating at times. But, you can’t explain that to people. No one believes it. We are all taught that all you have to do is have a positive attitude and every stumbling block will be swept from your path. That is deeply ingrained in our culture. It can be extremely damaging to the bereaved.
When the 3rd anniversary of the murder of my boys came around, I very much wanted to write a tribute. I wanted to really paint a portrait of who they were, and what they accomplished and meant to people. I just couldn’t do it. Three years of the ups and downs of wading through hearing after hearing, preparing for the stress of trial only to have to try to let the tension go when it was postponed again – that took a toll. I couldn’t think of anything to say that was new and fresh. I was depressed – nothing new. I missed them – said it many times before. I felt like I was slowly sinking into a tar pit, and that it was boring people to death.
Last week, the final defense motion to continue was denied and suddenly the trial was rushing at me like a starship at warp speed. I had waited for it for so long that I was used to spinning my wheels and being stuck in the same emotional place. All of a sudden, it’s real. It’s happening. Subpoenas have gone out, and potential jurors are being summoned. I was rather used to depression. Now I have nervous anxiety crashing down on my head, and I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t sleep. I can’t eat. Worse than that, I pick up a book and can’t seem to read. The only thing that seems to help is to crochet for some reason. I’ve been turning out shawls and baby sweaters and scarves and hats like a mad person. I’ve ripped apart unfinished projects that others don’t want and turned them into something else. I have friends picking up scraps of yarn at yard and estate sales, and it’s all grist for my yarn mill. It’s crazy. But it’s the only thing that helps to keep my anxiety from spinning out of control and keeps my blood from pounding in my head. Perhaps it’s the repeating patterns – counting out the same stitches over and over as the yarn builds steadily into a finished whole. It keeps my hands busy. It keeps me from screaming.
Now that the trial is starting there is, of course, renewed media interest. This afternoon I was talking to a reporter who asked me what I do. What do I do? I don’t know. I was once a workaholic who found it hard to stop working and take a lunch break. One more thing to do, one more problem to solve, one more report to run. I can’t do that now. My concentration breaks apart like cobwebs and my short term memory is awful. I enter a room only to forget why I even got up from my chair. Even if I was more collected and reliable, what would I do with it? I’m 53 years old – overweight and diabetic. I’ve worked for one employer for 25 years, which doesn’t make a very impressive resume. And my son and grandchildren were murdered. That’s not something that people want to know about, and yet, it’s a big part of my life now. Every time I tried to look for a job, or thought of taking classes, it would always come back to this: how do you start anything when you will have to set aside two whole months for a murder trial? And you really have no realiable idea of when that will be?
Oh, well, no use thinking about it now. I’ve never even gotten as far as a phone interview. Too old to work but too young for retirement benefits, that’s me. And touched by Murder – that practically makes me a leper. I write pretty well, but no one wants to pay me for that. I’m making cold weather garments in Southern California where there isn’t much demand for them. I think I’ve forced scarves on everyone I know and some people I don’t. I’m a really terrific grandmother, but who wants to rent an extra granny? So, basically, I live off of my daughter the teacher and my 90 year old mother. It makes me feel like a bum. Aaaarrrgh!
Okay, that’s it. Back to the crochet hook. My blood pressure is rising and I feel like I’m going to jump out of my skin. Yarn over, chain 3, double crochet, half-double crochet, slip stitch. Count it off. Keep the pattern going. Don’t drop a stitch. Breathe.