Tuesday, October 02, 2012
It's October 2nd again. Gandhi's birthday and also the anniversary of my older sister's murder. It has been 24 years since my phone rang on Sunday evening and my father's shaky voice said, "Carole's dead." Carole, the kindest, funniest and most generous big sister a person could have... dead. And then he told me she had been murdered. Stabbed to death. We didn't know much more at that point. Just that my beautiful, amazing sister was gone. Usually, I write about her... about how she read to me when I was little, how she gave me my first Marguirite Henry book (KING OF THE WIND) and read it with me. How she taught me grammar with humor. "Me and you" is a mistake I never make because she would pretend to cry and say, "You called me mean." I'd tell you about how she took me with her on a trip to Europe when I was a sophomore in college, shortly before she got married.. Usually I'd tell you about what an awesome parent she was to her own children and what magic and joy they brought into my life - both while she was alive - and still. I see her in each of them in small ways and large. Carole was the best that my well-meaning but screwed up parents gave to the world. She was smart and funny and passionate (I suspect much of my passion for politics came from her...) about life and ideas and everything. She was and is one of life's greatest gifts. She died too young. She died too violently, especially for one so gentle and loving. There's so much to say about her. But this year, I want to talk about something else as well, because by the time October 2nd rolls around again next year, Walter Anderson, the boy who stabbed her to death, will have had his first parole hearing. It is possible - though I hope unlikely - that he could be out of prison at this time next year and I don't know how I feel about that.
Or, I kind of do. I'm surprised to realize that the thought of that makes me very angry. My better angels seem to be vacationing. I don't believe Walter Anderson is capable of reform. I don't believe he even understood what he had done. He expressed regret, but it sounded and felt more like regret for having been caught. He couldn't even remember what Carole looked like. She was a random victim. She happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong moment. He wanted to kill someone and she was there. Part of me weeps for someone that damaged. How could life have dished out that much pain and anger and rage to a 16-year old boy? There is something wrong with a world in which that can happen. I thought that then and I think it now. Still, the damage to him is done and from what I saw of him at the trial, seems unlikely to be repaired. He did not seem intellectually or emotionally capable of redemption. The damage he did to me and my sister's children lives on.
Not that our lives haven't moved on. Carole's children are amazing. They have moved through their loss and pain and become unique and awesome adults... creative, kind, generous, intelligent... the best of both of their parents. I am alive. I am still broken in many ways, but the truth is that I was broken before Carole was killed. I was already a cracked vase that shattered with that last blow. I have slowly been gluing myself back together.
Anyway, I'm surprised by my anger. Troubled by it, too. The part of me that hopes Walter Anderson (a damaged 16-year-old boy) has found redemption is no match - at least in this moment in time - for the angry, hurt me.
I miss my sister. It's as simple as that.