During the day I squirreled away a couple oh-so-clever items to blog about tonight, like my miniscule crop of tiny, tiny tomatoes from my unruly plants on my desktop green house. Or I could tell you about the birthday dinner I had tonight, with three friends—lots of laughter and a bit of commiserating about the difficulties of aging. But my heart is too heavy tonight for trivia, and aging seems a blessing denied to many.
A Paschal high school student died at noon today because he was racing his car against a friend, lost control, and hit a tree. On a street that I travel often, the route I took to work for years. Somehow, we don’t expect these things to happen close to home. I do not know the boy’s identity, but the horror increased when I heard that tomorrow is his sixteenth birthday, and the car in which he died--a Mustang—was his birthday present. I cannot stop thinking about that family whose child is not coming home tonight. Jacob will go to Paschal in another year, which also brings it closer to home. How do we build a protective bubble around our children?
I grieve too for Bothran Jean, who left us some time ago, and for his family and for Amy Guyger who shot him and who today was convicted of murder. I watched TV for a while just after the verdict was announced, and it was wrenching. What she, a police officer, did was so wrong that there is no comprehending. Jean was in his apartment, eating ice cream—the only thing he did wrong was to leave his door ajar. She entered, thinking she was in her own apartment a floor below, and shot him, out of fear for her life, she says. I presume, as a police officer coming off duty and still in her gear, she had other ways to subdue a threat, but she shot to kill.
As the prosecutor said today, there’s a strong lesson there for police officers, a lesson about deadly force that should be a cautionary tale for so many police officers across the country. I was sad that supporters of Bothran Jean’s family made it into a racial issue, though the tones of racism were always there—she is white, he was black. But it seems to me this is more a police training and brutality issue than a racial one, though perhaps in our society today the two are so intertwined as to be inseparable. But like the teenage driver, Bothran Jean will not be coming home to his family—ever.
The judge allowed the castle theory defense for Ms. Guyger which seemed really out of whack to me. She wasn’t defending her “castle,” which was one story below. She was invading his castle. Still I thought she might be convicted of manslaughter. When the murder conviction came back, I felt a wave of sympathy for her, awful as what she did was. I could imagine, seeing the shock on her face, that she was desperately wishing that this was a bad dream from which she would wake up. But it wasn’t. She will pay a stiff price—from five to 99 years—for the grief that she had brought to two families and to a community and a city.
As a good friend of mine says, there’s a world of hurt out there. Be gentle with one another, my friends. None of us can see around the next corner in our lives.