Yesterday was a day unlike any other day, for me, if only as a witness to pain and sorrow, joy and hope.
I have a friend that I've known for many years here. A friend who I've cared about very much. Her life was touched by tragedy long before I met her, her husband being killed in a plane crash.
Since I've known her, she's gone on to endure new injuries. In her marriage, and in her health. She's always been resilient. She struggled, of course, but she carried on as much the same person as I've come to know. Those struggles are ongoing, unresolved.
Most recently though, she's been visited by another tragedy at an occasion that was meant to be a happy event, a family reunion after the death of her mother during the time of COVID, when family gatherings were not always possible.
I've known about this for some time, but I haven't related this before because it's not my story to tell. I do so now, because this most recent event has really affected my friend, as I've come to witness.
About six months ago, her youngest brother, a 52 year old man, was killed at the hands of the police in a jail in Texas, where he'd gone for a family reunion. Arrested for nothing more than sitting on the porch of the home they'd rented, in the morning, drinking a beer by himself. This apparently aroused the suspicions of a passing neighbor who called the police, which set in motion the course of events that were to take his life, violently, in custody at the jail.
My friend and her sister were there, tried to intervene, tried to get their brother out of jail. Because of changes in visitation due to COVID protocols, they were unable to visit their brother in jail. Apparently they had to schedule a video visitation, and one wouldn't be available for a couple of days, by which time he was dead.
The jail didn't notify my friend and her sister of his death, they learned of it from an attorney they were working with to try and get him out of jail. He was able to look at the population and had the unfortunate duty to tell them their brother was dead, with no explanation why. She'd learned of the death of her husband from a reporter, decades before. There is no good way to deliver bad news, but this just seems unfair.
Since then, his death has been ruled a homicide. The family is being represented by a nationally known civil rights attorney. Help found her from unexpected quarters, to include a nationally known public figure you might never think of; but learning of it, you think, "Of course." A figure who has indicated that they don't wish their name to be known, and who is doing this work for many families in similar circumstances. So I'm not being coy to be clever. I would love for their name to be known, but I think I understand why they might not.
Despite this high-powered help, this particular loss has brought my resilient friend low. She's carrying on, of course, but she's confused, lost, angry, hurting and grieving. Familiar feelings by now, but this time it seems to have broken her.
And reaching out by asking for help with printing labels.
I didn't learn of her brother's death right away. We were very close once upon a time, and then we weren't so close for a long time after. We'd speak once or twice a year, more frequently since her diagnosis.
She'd called me on another subject a couple of months ago; but the real reason was to tell me about her brother. It was a long conversation and it hit me like a blow. Of course, we read about these things all the time. Among the privileged, we likely never think it's the kind of thing that could touch us. Until it does.
And to be clear, it didn't touch me. It touched my friend. I'm just relating how that has affected me.
I called her a couple of weeks later to check in and see how she was doing, let her know she could reach out anytime. I hadn't heard from her again before yesterday, but I'd been meaning to call her anyway.
I can't relate to you the depth of what she's experiencing. I can try to tell you how helpless and inadequate and frightened it makes me feel. And how sad I feel for my friend, who has never done anything to deserve this much pain in her life. Though I must say, I know I've read about women, families, with similar amounts of injustice and tragedy visited on their lives. I'd just never been so close to see what it does. And I hope you don't ever have to do so either.
We have power over nothing. Surrender. "Let go, and let God." Also, inadequate. So just breathe.
And love one another, as best we can. And we can definitely do better.
Which brings me to the joy and hope.
I got home from the label trouble, and we watched a couple of movies. I picked the latest Luther movie, because I needed to see a good guy beat a bad buy. Mitzi wanted to watch The Philadelphia Story, which is one of my very favorite movies. If you want to know what my friend is like, she's very much like Tracy, very much. Not a redhead though.
Before we went to bed, I recalled another friend (I don't think she'd object to me calling her that) was sworn in as mayor of Jacksonville about the same time as I was navigating Avery's product offerings.
I went looking for local news coverage on my phone, and found her inaugural speech. You can find it here. It's worth a listen. I think it truly is, no matter where you live.
I can't be certain, but I think I hear the winds of change beginning to stir. I think the power of love may be beginning to make itself felt, in a way that it seems like it hasn't in a long time.
The pendulum swings both ways.
It's a beautiful day. Let's make it so.Originally posted at Nice Marmot 06:01 Sunday, 2 July 2023