Stripped of the shock and horror that clouded my thoughts for days, I wake to the naked truth that a murder has taken place. That a man’s life has been stolen. That a family has been forced to bear not only a devastating loss, but a violent one.
I’ve lost loved ones to tragedy, but never to murder. The compassion I felt for Richard turns toward anger. For his desecration of life and community and the cooperative. Truly there has been infinite beauty in the collective response to this tragedy, but there is no escaping the ugliness of it.
My anger quickly melts back into grief however as I view the Richard’s arraignment. I hold my breath while the camera focuses in on the door from which he will enter the courtroom. When he appears, I turn my head away, unable to bear his transformation from the wine guy to the criminal.
When Richard finally does make his way through that door, my hand flies to my mouth. It’s not just the grey sweatsuit that is two sizes too big, or even his hair, typically worn neat, that is now wildly disheveled, as if he spent his first night in jail ripping through it. What truly breaks my heart and brings me to tears is both his frame–bent and shuffling–and his face–ashen and lost.
He looks up and into the courtroom for just a moment, and his bottom lip droops as if he is about to crumble into tears.
And now I am angry at all of us. How could we have prevented this man from this self-inflicted hell? How could we have spared these families the loss of their loved ones?
Relieved to be 300 miles away, I share this new wave of grief with my friends at the shore; and I am surprised by what I see in their faces. It is a mixture shock and compassion and fear. Only the fear is not of someone like Richard, but of themselves. Fear that they too have a murderer inside. Fear that they might someday be stripped of their senses by rage.
Kelly Salasin, August 13, 2011