Sunday, October 05, 2008

So Close to Folding

Like an old Holy Bible you clung to through so many seasons,
With the rules of survival in words you could still understand;

When they prove something wrong you believed in so long you go crazy,

And you're so close to folding the cards that you hold in your hand.

Singing, Holy Toledo, I can't see the light anymore,

All those horizons that I used to guide me are gone.

And the darkness is driving me farther away from the shore;

Throw me a rhyme or a reason to try to go on.

- Kris Kristofferson

Dear Rachel,

Well, here we are at an ending, of sorts. Not "closure," certainly (God, I really hate that word), but at least an end to the legal wranglings and the bickering amongst attorneys and judges. Marcus -- now that he's pleaded guilty and been sentenced, I can be a bit less discreet about naming names -- has been sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. He'll spend the rest of his life confined to a small concrete cell at the Red Onion State Prison.

I suppose I'm satisfied with that, although I suspect that some of the other parents and family members may not be. I'm sure that many were hoping for the death penalty, and who can blame them? Me, I want him to live in a cement box for the next 40 years, unable to see his daughter, to hear birds singing, to hold a woman. I want him to suffer for the rest of his life; after all, that's what we parents and siblings and loved ones will be doing.

The proceedings were awful, reopening old wounds and ripping fresh ones as we learned more about that terrible night. You were the last to die. I never knew that. I had hoped that you were among the first, and that you had had little time to be afraid. But that's not what happened. You were the last; after shooting Candace (three times; boy, that is one tough young lady),
killing Bryce and David, and shooting Jonathan, Marcus hunted you down in the hallway outside of the condo as you spoke to the 911 operator on your cell phone. You were only a few feet from the exit; you could have run, but you stayed to call for help for yourself and the others. Why didn't you run? Instead you tried to hide out in the hallway and call for help and he hunted you down and shot you in the head, the way a conscientious hunter would track and finish off a gutshot deer.

God damn him to hell.

While the hearing was terrible for everyone, including Marcus' parents, family, and friends, it must have been especially awful for the Bauerbands and the Kusas. For us at least, there is a terrible, tragic logic in what happened: As horrible as it was, we saw it growing out of some sort of (never fully explained) conflict between you and Marcus; it was you he was really after as he stormed through that condo, dealing death wherever he went. As crazy as it was, there was something like sense there: At that moment, he hated you and so he killed you.

But what about those two young men? I know them now. Before the hearing, they were just names to me, but now I know them. I've met their parents and their siblings and, in one case, a young woman who is now a widow; we've spoken and we've hugged and we've cried together. I saw photographs of them as they grew up and I heard people speak of them and their dreams. (Ironically, all three of you had recently -- within weeks of the murders -- graduated from either college or grad school.)

What must they think? How much harder is it for the friends and families of these two young men? They can see no logic, however horrible -- because there is none. The boys were so briefly in Virginia, come for a quick, happy visit with old friends to celebrate their recent graduations, before they were shot down by a man who didn't even know them, didn't take the time to meet them, and who had no reason at all to hate them. For the Kusas and the Bauerbands this was not merely a tragedy, but seemingly the random act of a vicious animal, a mad Providence, something beyond all reason. And they would be perfectly correct, of course.

And yet... Lesley and Debbie and I owe much to these people. They were very kind to us when they could have been hurtful. They shared their pain (and allowed us to share ours), when they could have been insular and standoffish. They could have blamed you (and therefore us) for this; it would have been easy to do -- one does seek, after all, to assign blame as a way to make some sort of sense of such horror.

But they did not do that. All of them are wonderful,decent people -- kind, gentle, well-spoken and articulate. I ache for them so. The parents, hurt beyond description and, like us, possibly beyond repair. The brothers and sisters, angry and bewildered, but remembering Bryce and David with love, and even with humor. And beautiful Kristina. So young to be a widow, and bereft for so little reason: This was not a war, an illness, an accident. It was not something of which one could make some kind of sense, however awful. It was a visit from Hell. It was as if Death had tricked her, made her believe that her dreams had finally all come true, or were about to, and then stalked her handsome young husband and laughed as he stole those dreams. And in a way, I suppose that's exactly what happened.

If any of them could ever bring themselves to forgive Marcus Garrett for what he did, they would have to be saints; certainly they would have to be much better Christians than I could ever hope to be. And in fact they do seem to be Christian people, in the best sense of that word. I hope their faith has helped sustain them; I know that I envy them that faith.



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Blogger Bellezza said...

It must be unimaginable pain to sit through these days of the trial, to learn even greater details of such horror.

I am so sorry for your loss, for the unexplainable visciousness in that madman named Marcus that spilled into all of your lives.

I can see how brave Rachel was. I have no right words, only prayers for all of your healing. Bless you, Bellezza

5:48 PM  
Blogger SuziQoregon said...

I'm glad that the 'legal wranglings' are over. I'm glad for the 'no possibility of parole' for the evil that is Marcus. I'm sad that there are newly learned horrific details to add to the anguish everyone involved has already suffered.

Even though we've never met in person I'm sending you all much love and hugs.

7:10 PM  
Blogger 3gand1b said...

I am a richer and better person for having gotten to know you...I hope that your heart can start to heal somewhat. Suzy

5:52 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

I am so sorry for your loss and everything you've had to endure these past few years . . . it is more than any parent -or any human, for that matter- should have to bear. And I can only imagine how truly horrible it must've been to sit through this final phase of the legal proceedings and find out even more than you wanted to know about that tragic night, even if doing so meant that you found out that Rachel's last action on this earth was one of extraordinary bravery. I don't know if it helps you in any small way, but I still do say prayers that you and your entire family somehow find peace from the torment that you must be going through . . . and if I could offer you any more than that, I certainly would. As difficult as it is, I hope that you continue to write, and by doing so, I hope that it will help you to get everything out that tears you up inside so that somehow, someday all that is raw and painful inside can start healing. Kim Fitzke

9:16 AM  
Blogger Rod said...

Thanks to all for the the support, the hugs (real and virtual), and the love. We'd never have made it this far without our friends and family.

8:53 AM  
Blogger Lotus Reads said...

What agony you, Leslie and all those other bereaved families have gone through just because of the blind anger of one individual. As he sits in his tiny cell day after day for the rest of his life, I hope he will be reminded every minute of his terrible actions and the horrible consequences.

Thank you very much for sharing this with us. Much strength and peace to you and Leslie who are amongst the most courageous people I know.


7:19 PM  
Blogger Joy said...

My heart goes out to you all. I hope you can find some peace knowing that he's behind bars and despite what he has done - you will see Rachel again.

7:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I stumbled on your blog 'accidentally'. God bless you and your family...what a terrible loss.

Raechel Tupman
Vancouver Canada

11:45 PM  
Blogger Rod said...

Thank you, Raechel, for your comment, and for your good wishes.

12:51 PM  
Blogger jessica said...

You haven't wrote in awhile... How are you?

A strong tightness is in my chest as I read this. My body aches for you. My eyes burn for all of this. This is the hardest thing I have ever read. I've experienced life in my life but something about this has so many dimensions.

Why? What the hell happened? What went wrong?
These are questions to never be answered.

I actually knew Marcus. And with me being such a lover of life and knowing how precious life is... This whole thing.. I will never understand.
My heart aches for your family and all those involved.

So many questions. So much hurt.

My heart and love goes to your family. Don't ever stop writing.


9:44 PM  
Blogger Rod said...

Hi, Jessica. Thanks for your kind words. We're doing OK, considering. Still finding ways to enjoy life, in spite of it all. It never goes away, of course, but you do learn to live with it and the pain . . . diminishes.

You're right, I don't write on this blog any more. I would, but honestly it's too painful. It did serve its purpose, though, and I'm glad I did it. I hope that by leaving it up, perhaps some day it might help someone who's trying to get through something similar.

I hope you're well. There's been enough pain.

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Rod, I've never met you but I was a friend and co-worker (jcpenney's) of Rachels. Years have passed, but everything still seems so fresh. Your blog to her, is truly amazing. Though my heart breaks everytime I read a passage; it helps me in a different sense. Rachel was truly one of a kind; anyone who ever got the chance to meet her, their lives are forever changed. Mine included. I held and still do hold your daughter very close to my heart. I hope that life is treating you well these days, and that you have healed a little more.

Hugs from Virginia Beach,
Bryn Shoen

4:34 PM  
Blogger Stephanie Krebs said...

I lived in the building where all of this occurred and opened my door for Jonathan that night when he asked for help, calling 911 and taking care of his wounds. I knew of the horror below and wished I could help the others too. I was even asked by the 911 cal-taker to go downstairs and check, but the EMT in me thought better of it given the unknown nature of the situation. I'll always live with a tinge of regret wondering if I couldn't have helped Rachel. I apologize that I wasn't able to try.

6:14 PM  
Blogger Stephanie Krebs said...

I lived in the building where all of this occurred and opened my door for Jonathan that night when he asked for help, calling 911 and taking care of his wounds. I knew of the horror below and wished I could help the others too. I was even asked by the 911 cal-taker to go downstairs and check, but the EMT in me thought better of it given the unknown nature of the situation. I'll always live with a tinge of regret wondering if I couldn't have helped Rachel. I apologize that I wasn't able to try.

6:15 PM  

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