When I was in the 4th grade, my classmate was murdered. We were 10. His murderer was his 14-year-old neighbor. He lured my classmate into a field near their home, stabbed him 33 times, went home made a sandwich and watched TV.
I grew up in a really small town. The murderer was from an affluent family--the town doctor. Everyone knew everyone. I was friends with my classmate's sister. I also was friends with the murderer's sister.
Today, the murder is 41. Today he was granted parole.
In a few weeks, he could be walking the streets of the same small town. Should people be scared? He was considered not fit for release in 2010, so the last two years he was rehabilitated just enough more than the previous 26?
I'm really facing some strange emotions today. Questions about justice. Is a life worth only 28 years? Reformation and transformation in incarceration. How is someone who grew up in jail supposed to adjust to life on the outside? Two families lost there sons that day, so mostly I'm sad. For my classmate's family. For my classmates that had to experience something so scary and tragic and incomprehensible at such a young age. Sad for the murderers family and the elephant in the room that no one ever talked about. For the people I grew up with who have to relive that moment all over again.
Yes, I'm feeling sad for me too. Less than two months earlier I had had to deal with death for the first time. My mother had died. So within a span of two months I learned death was not always natural, death was not for the old. Death was something that could not only change my family and my life, but at 9 years old, I learned death could come for me.
That period in my life has had more effect on me I'm sure I will ever consciously be aware. My roller coaster of emotions I'm sure will continue for a few days as I process and remember. I'm still sad, but today to I say my prayers, for my classmate, for his family, for his murderer's family, for my community, and yes for the murderer, too. A prayer for those left behind to deal with death. A prayer for the living.