August 8, 2007 was the worst day of my life, a day that fulfills every parent’s nightmare. One of my daughter-in-law’s friends came to my office to tell me that my 27 year old son Neal and his two little boys Devon, age 7, and Ian, age 3 had been found murdered in their condo. My daughter-in-law was at the sheriff’s station and no one could find out anything more. How do you process something like that? How do you find the presence of mind to even make a choice of what to do next – sit and cry, start calling family, go down to the sheriff’s station – what do you do.
I said in the above paragraph that it was the worst day of my life. Actually, it was the end of my life that was, and the beginning of the life that now is. Everything seems to be clearly divided between “before” and “after.” Grief is a long, terrible journey, and the fact that someone you loved was deliberately killed makes it so much worse. Legal proceedings are added into the mix. There are long delays waiting for coroner’s reports, for forensics, for the murder site to be released so that you can finally start going through their things. And so very many long delays while waiting for the trial, or even the preliminary hearing, to begin.
I started writing about my terrible journey very early on. Sometimes I wrote about my boys and who they were. Sometimes I wrote about my grief. It was a release that I really needed, because murder and grief are terribly difficult subjects to talk about. It’s awkward. No one knows what to say. It’s hard even to articulate your own feelings to yourself sometimes. So, I write to keep my sanity. And I started emailing my writings to friends. Might as well impose my misery on others – that’s what friends are for, right? The interesting thing is that those friends started sending my notes to other friends. My email list got bigger and bigger. And sometimes reading about my journey through grief somehow allowed others to express the feelings of grief that they were struggling with. It’s funny that we all are made to feel that it’s a journey we have to make in private, isn’t it?
By the way, I should warn you that I often end my writings with the word Monkey. Monkey was my grandson Devon’s favorite word. He used it whenever he felt awkward, or was the center of the attention, or just didn’t know what to say. It’s a good word. So, Monkey!
New: I have recently started a new series of posts called Garden Wars. They are hopefully humorous views of life from the point of view of my dogs. Hope they brighten your day.