Week One

Slowly as it seemed to move at times, week one of the murder trial is past. I know I haven’t given any updates, but that’s because I haven’t attended since the first day. Nothing to see, really, as potential jurors were going to be given a quick statement of the charges and a huge questionnaire to fill out and return. The weather has been very hot this week, and I figured that with a new set of 75 potential jurors coming in every day just for this one courtroom, parking would be nearly impossible. I’m just too lazy to want to walk for blocks in the heat just to see papers passed out. Oh, I felt guilty about it, but just didn’t have the get-up-and-go to drive all the way out to Pomona. Saving my strength and Xanax for the “good” stuff, I suppose. Or maybe I mean the bad stuff.

It has been a long, strange week. When my ex-husband was in the Army, he used to say that everything was “hurry up and wait.” That’s what it felt like sometimes. Zoom! The trial was upon us. Brake! We sit and wait while the process of choosing and analyzing and seating a jury takes place. The wheels are still turning, and things are still happening, but it doesn’t always feel real when it is happening out of sight I’m full of nervous dread, but there’s nothing to focus my anxiety on. It’s a good thing I don’t bite my nails, because I’d be down to the first knuckle by now.

The other difficult thing about this past week is that it was bookended by birthdays. Monday was Ian’s 7th, and I mourned for the milestones large and small that he had missed. I mourned for the milestones large and small that I had missed, too. I will never have a school picture of Ian, or a kindergarten handprint, or a folder of homework. Every birthday puts emphasis on the time that has passed and the experiences missed. Birthdays are hard.

At the end of the week, there was another birthday. Friday was Manling’s 31st. She was 27 at the time of the murders, the same age as Neal. As time passes, her age changes in newspaper articles, but his remains forever the same. It is almost as though she stole those years, and is living and breathing the life and breath that should have been his. She continues on while they forever sleep; always 27 and 7 and 3.

That is very sad, but it’s not the only reason October 1 is painful. I think it’s the contrast. I have memories of other birthdays, with cake and presents and laughter. I see them from far away, as if looking at a different lifetime. I suppose I am. So much died on August 8, 2007.

Did Ling celebrate another birthday? Did she note the passage of another whole year? I have no way of knowing. The only thing I do know, is that she got a lot more out of her 31st, good or bad, than Ian got out of his 7th. That is heartbreaking.

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