Thursday, January 30, 2014

Open Letter to My Cousin's Taker

I don't want to say the other word, the M-word, because it's so loaded, so let's start with taker.  And let's start with formalities.

Dear Ryan Patterson,

You have entered into our family now.  Now you will meet all the aunties and cousins and friends of Jamie.  You and Jamie are tied together forever.  And Michelle is there too, of course, but in the end the story in our family about Jamie will be tied to you.

So who are you?  You, who made a contract, an agreement, with another soul in this world.

She is revealed to be the angel that we all knew her to be, and you are revealed to be, what?  Incredibly human?  Demon?  Fallen angel?  What do we call you?  What does your mother call you?

Is it true that you dreamed about your first hit for years before it happened?  Did Halloween always mean something else to you even before you took Jamie near that deathly holiday?  Of course, you only took something completely intangible, her Earthly life and only ignited the transformation, mother, son, holy ghost--remember that?  When you used to pray with your grandma and say those words?  Mother, son, holy ghost.  Why didn't grandma say Father, son, holy ghost?  And the other prayers, you learned them, the ones about gathering together.  But what did they mean?  You could never take her, and you know that now.  No one can really kill someone--it is an agreement from before this life.  You knew Jamie, you will know her now!  You will know her pure sunshine smile, just the same as your kids, you have seen that sunshine, that beauty, and you know how rare and precious it is.

What has changed for you?  Are you more powerful now or are you floored?  What kind of human are you?  Are you waiting for someone to slip up so you can capture them or slip out of this world again?  Are you a seeker of darkness and small spaces?

Or can you see your broken heart, scattered in the wind?  Was it an accident?  Why wasn't Michelle in trouble for this?  Why did she say she was trying to kill John for insurance money?  Because if she said she was just doing it in a rage against the "evil whore who stole my husband"  then people wouldn't be so sympathetic to her?  Do you think it's fair that Michelle gets to live the rest of her life on the outside when it was her idea in the first place?  Do you think you are going to prefer living on the inside anyway for the rest of your life?  If you change your mind around and slip back into your human heart you might be able to get something worthwhile out of this life.  If you look at it, you are in a perfect position for redemption because you never killed anyone before.  If you tell the honest truth about yourself to everyone then you can feel what forgiveness feels like, which is a sublime human experience, much different than the kind you were supposed to feel in church.  This is where you set all your sins at the foot of all the humans around you and say, "I'm sorry, how can you ever accept me as a human again when I clearly don't deserve your love or understanding?"  Eventually, the most purest human souls can start to bring you back into human existence and eventually you can work to help other people make that transformation as well.  You still have the rest of your life ahead of you, and you are in a relatively safe place where you can send your intentions into whichever direction.  You will meet real humans and you will meet real demons and you might meet a few angels.  Then you decide if anything is worth your time as a human.  Do you love anyone in your life?  Yes, you loved your grandma, and of course your kids.  Did you love Michelle?  Why did you want to kill so badly?  To make an angel?  Two angels?  Three angels?  You wanted to see what a human was capable of doing?  Creating angels, just like God?

Who am I?  This questioner of all things?  I am Olive Jewel's Dream.  I live in the desert southwest.  Jamie is my cousin, specifically, my mother's brother's daughter.  Jamie was named after her father, James, who was named after *his* father James.  I understand there is a James in your family too.  Incidentally, the name James comes from the Hebrew Jacob, which means "holder of the heel".  Hold on!  Just hold on!  Times like this require us to hold on.

Did anyone try to turn you around?  Ever??  Everyone you talked to thought you were perfectly sane to have a goal of killing someone?  Like the Emperor in his new clothes, strutting naked down the street, people just supported you as you careened way out of control with your life?!  Did nobody ever give you a hand up, just once?  Or were you just spat on by everyone in your life, going crazy with all their stupid rules?  If you want to be like the folks on the hill you gotta learn how to smile when you kill.  Somehow killing becomes this magic gate that will get you out of the daily grunge.  Why do people encourage you to go to college when others only tell you that you are stupid?  Who started saying that to you?  Teachers?  Kids?  And the jobs are all nauseatingly boring.  Killer for hire.

Perhaps I am a bit presumptuous and that is never good for the beginning of a relationship, rather off-putting.

What I want to know is how do you feel about all this?  I have no idea if you have a conscience or not.  Do you actually see life differently now?  Do you feel bad for what you did?  Do you feel sorry for what you did?  Do you see how very very very bad that was?  Was Michelle important to you as a person or would you have done that for anyone who asked you to do that?  Were there others lined up for later?  Did you have any other people waiting to use your services?  Did you consider yourself a "hitman"?

Did you just do it to get airlifted out of society into a place where you would be fed and protected?  Or maybe you thought about how you might get life in prison but you didn't care?

I see in the Missouri newspaper your request to overturn the conviction.  Yes, it does seem like your co-conspirators lied about you to get lighter sentences and racism very well could have laid its heavy hand upon the jury's shoulders.  But your decision cost you your life, plain and simple.  You never could have done what you did and thought that was the right thing to do, especially since you have kids!  You kill someone, you are gone from society, white or black.  Michelle and Ray-Ray should have been punished worse than 15 and 20 years, FOR SURE!  Each of them should spend the rest of their lives behind bars too, ESPECIALLY Michelle, but that doesn't lighten your sentence.  You blew it and no one deserves to have you as a neighbor, you know that's true.  You know that you have to prove to your kids that even though you made a horrible decision and even though society is right to take you away, you are still a good person because you would *never do anything like that again*!  If you can convince your kids that you would never do that again and continue to send them words of encouragement in all their activities and tell them how proud you are of all their achievements then you will make great strides toward convincing the rest of society as well and then maybe when you are an old man, they will let you out to hold your tiny great-grandbaby girl.  But you know that you made that decision and it was a bargain with the devil, so you have to pay up.  But you can still plant seeds while you are alive, seeds of hope in your children and seeds of food outside.  You can still smell the wind and see the birds and the clouds.  Get involved with the animal activities because animals will teach you about forgiveness.  And try to learn the stars so you can begin to feel your place on the Earth as it whirls around the sun everyday, you and me both.

And treasure what little scraps are left.  Because they are still here, just like you are.  No one is guaranteed on more day in this life, and still we are here.






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