My Dad would choose who would carry my sister’s casket. Something no one really thinks about until it is time to bury a loved one. However, perhaps we should think about who would carry our casket when we die. Maybe if we decide this prior then there would be one less argument. Probably not though, as it seems people prefer to be angry and argue when they are in pain—at least I do. Anger numbs the pain, only slightly, but enough to feel some relief. Sometimes all I want is just a little relief.
One of the pallbearers would be the father of Christina’s baby, Matt. My Dad announced this the night before the burial.
“Why would you pick him? He didn’t love Christina – he left! He’s not touching her casket!” I said it with so much anger I even shocked myself, why was I angry with Christina’s ex-boyfriend, the father of her baby? He didn’t kill her…
My Dad stood his ground saying, “I made my decision.”
I began to cry, knowing whenever my Dad would say those words it meant the conversation was over. I screamed in frustration, “If he stayed with her, if he only stayed and took care of their baby she wouldn’t of dated a murderer! She would be alive! He didn’t stay, he left! He didn’t stay! You can’t do this!”
My anger was explained to those in the room and even to myself. They were all lies but at the time I didn’t know that. At the time, I believed every word I said. The burn of my anger quickly turned into tears. Like a toddler, I ran to a corner of the room and fell to my knees and cried. My Abuelo came and sat next to me. He didn’t say anything to me but I could hear him whispering a prayer for me, for all of us. He sat with me until I stopped crying.
Unfortunately, I didn’t keep my anger to myself. I shared my feelings with Matt the next day in front of my Dad—in front of everyone. Matt walked away from me with his head down as I spewed out every lie I had said the night before proclaiming it as truth to him and for the room of people to hear. I’m still ashamed and cringe when I think of how defeated he looked when he walked away from me.
“Priscilla. Stop.” Dad commanded me firmly, but I couldn’t. Words, like vomit, continued to come out uncontrollably.
“You left! Get out of here! Leave!” I yelled at Matt while my dad stood in front of me simultaneously trying to block me from seeing Matt and attempting to shut me up. I don’t even know what else I said because I saw black, anger filled my veins as I continued my rant.
“Just stop. Stop. He is the father of your nephew. Stop!” Dad pleaded with me.
I stopped… but the damage was already done. I said words I could never take back.
Over the years, I recognized my blame and anger towards Matt were not fair. He was a kid, Christina’s age, only 18 years old. I was 22 at the time and I wish I could say I was young, hurting and didn’t know what I was saying, but… I knew. I was saying those words to hurt him and wanted so badly to hurt him because I believed all of the lies my head told me.
It took me about 10 years to know I was wrong. Matt had nothing to do with my sister’s life being taken. Regardless of Matt staying in a relationship with my sister or not, he didn’t kill Christina- Joseph (Andy) Amador did that. Matt was a victim, just like us.
Similarly, Christina’s lifestyle, no matter how the media or her teachers wanted to twist the story had nothing to do with Christina’s death. Christina didn’t kill Christina, her murderer did. She was the victim and it shouldn’t of happened regardless of who she was with, where she lived, or what she did.
It’s ironic how easy it is for everyone, including myself, to blame the innocent meanwhile the murderer will be up for parole in 6 more years, released and forgiven by the state of Ohio for his crimes. Where would we be if the same number of people who blamed Christina for her own death were to actually participate and request the denial of Amador’s parole…
I never apologized to Matt for my words. I guess I hoped he would forget what I said… or I hoped he didn’t really hear what I said… or if he did hear I said then I hoped, maybe, he knew I was being irrational. Either of those options would be better than him holding on to the hurtful words I vomited that day.
Being angry and irrational seem to be a regular occurrence in my grief. From my psychology courses, I remember learning about the stages of grief, anger being one of the stages. However, when I learned about grief in my coursework I had assumed the stages were sequential with an end. Don’t we all think that about the stages of grief? Or was I just so naïve, unscathed by the world at the time, so oblivious to life that I actually thought grief was a stage by stage process which would eventually come to an end. Experience has taught me the stages of grief are not sequential nor does it really end, instead it is a chaotic jumble of stages on repeat.
Anger, for me, plays on repeat often.
The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit. -Proverbs 15:4
Telling lies about others is as harmful as hitting them with an ax, wounding them with a sword, or shooting them with a sharp arrow. -Proverbs 25:18