I had the opportunity to speak to the court at the sentencing for Shane McGee. I was able to speak about how Shane’s actions on the morning of July 16 affected me–to describe my loss. I was also able to give my thoughts on his sentencing.
I knew I would want to say something, but I didn’t know what or how. Every time I tried to put my loss into words, I broke down and realized it was impossible.
I couldn’t give my thoughts on sentencing until I met Shane. I had introduced myself quickly to him and his mother at the courthouse when he pleaded guilty, but I had not talked with him. How could there exist another human being in this world who had such a profound affect on me and my family yet I knew nothing about him?! Did he know anything about who he killed that morning, what he took from this world?
Our society’s justice system keeps the victim and offender completely separated, no contact, no information. Is that always best? Could there be situations where it may be a good thing for victim and offender to meet face to face to begin to work out any possible way to restore whatever can be restored on either side? I think so.
I met Shane face to face 2 days before I saw him again in court for his sentencing. At the sentencing, this is what I, more or less (lots of impromptu talking), said to the court:
“Dear Judge, Shane, all my friends and family, and all my fellow community members,
I am Patrick’s wife. My loss is unfathomable, ineffable. Any of my attempted words will only serve to cheapen or make trite the all-encompassing love, experience, life that Patrick and I shared.
I have here a few excerpts of letters and journal entries Patrick and I have written. Perhaps these letters can give you a glimpse of what we shared and is now forever ripped away:
My journal; July 16, 1991; exactly 17 years before Pat was struck
And now we’re getting married. Marriage–a big word. Rest of our lives together. Share everything.
I love him. I want to list everything I like about him, why I want to marry him, what marriage really means to me, and what promises, vows, agreements, pacts I want to make with him for the rest of our lives together.
I feel so lucky, so blessed, almost in a dream. I’ve dreamed of my “perfect” husband all my life, and now I’ve found him. We have a good relationship. I know he’s not perfect, and I know there are going to be trying times. But, with the attitudes, values, ideas, hopes, communication we have now, I really think we’ll be able to make it.
Change, growth, love, moment, life.
We need to remember ebb and flow, most importantly when it’s ebbing. It’s not good to be constantly apprehensive, anxious of these bad times–I need to live in the moment and appreciate it for all it’s worth!
Yet, at the same time, I need to be aware of the ebb and to accept it as part of life. Pat and I have talked of this.
My promise to him is to accept and even appreciate both the ebb and flow, the tears and the laughter, the ups and downs, winters and springs, and to not give up!
We both have a lot to offer eachother, our family, our friends, our world.
Patrick, you are what I want. You are the one I will love forever. Each year we’ll be two different people, always changing. That’s what I want! I want me to be, you to be, and our relationship to be dynamic, never stagnant for long, always growing.
I’m aware that the change can be very painful at times. My promise is to let you be, to aid your growth in any way, to not consciously impede your independence, to work hard in being aware of my unconscious, unknowing, indirect inhibiting actions and words and stopping them.
I promise to constantly struggle in my own positive personal growth. The more we independently grow, the more our union can grow. We’ll always learn new things from eachother.
Change can be exciting, life-giving, positive, adventurous, thrilling.
Patrick, I have often told you how lucky and blessed I feel to have you. Sometimes it doesn’t seem possible. I’ve had a lot of dreams and hopes for how I want my life to turn out. I think we both know that dreams can hurt. Life isn’t idealistic. The real world can play cruel jokes on us it sometimes seems. Then why have I been so blessed to have the dream come true of the man I want to spend the rest of my life with? I want to be with you to discover and realize our dreams. I want to be with YOU when our dreams are shattered right before us.
Marriage vows, the traditional ones, have become so trite-sounding, almost meaningless. The words are what I ultimately want to vow–“…in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, I will love you all the days of my life.”
But there’s so much more to it. I want to profess my love for Patrick in front of all those we care about and all who care about us in a way that will leave no one any doubt of what I promise. I do not take vows lightly. They will be from my heart, they should come from my heart, not from tradition.
I love you, Patrick! I give my life to you. I take all of you.
(This is getting long. I will continue in subsequent posts…)