Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Scales of Injustice

Yesterday - sleep issues notwithstanding (having slept in until 5:00 a.m. every day I was on vacation even I found it a bit trying answering the 3:15 a.m. alarm clock's bell) - began in a promising and professionally satisfying manner. At about 9:30 or so I received notification from the Appellate Division, which is our intermediate level appellate court here in Levelland, of a win.
I have received but one adverse verdict at trial to this point in my career and since it happened - in late November 2007 - I had been shouting "we wuz robbed!" to the ramparts at the top of my lungs (note the dramatic license I took right there. I would not know how or where to find a rampart if forced to do so at gunpoint). Yesterday, a panel of learned judges in the Appellate Division agreed with me, finding that among the curious things that the trial judge did was charge the jury on areas of the law wholly unsupported by the evidence adduced at trial (over my objection), which is kinda, sorta something a trial judge is not supposed to do. Who knew? Not the judge before whom the matter was tried apparently. Thus, courtesy of our Appellate Division, by 9:30 or so I was feeling pretty good about things - looking forward to the rest of my day.

I should have known better. If experience has taught me one thing it is to be careful about the things for which I wish. Shortly before I went to bed last night, Suzanne gave me the latest update on the health and welfare of one of her close friends, Gabe. Gabe is a young man of 24 who, approximately one month ago, was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, which in his case proved to be the oncoming lane of travel, when a teenage driver traveling the opposite direction lost control of his vehicle. By all accounts, the ensuing head-on collision was horrific. Gabe survived the impact. Unfortunately, he has sustained significant, substantive and life-altering injuries.

It is a fate one would not wish on the child of one's worst enemy. And the enormity of the anguish is multiplied by the fact that he is simply among the nicest kids who I ever had the chance to meet and to know - courtesy of his friendship with Suz and with Rob. He was a fun-loving, intelligent, musically gifted child whose journey to adulthood was successfully negotiated so that he did not have to leave any of those gifts behind him. It is nothing short of heartbreaking to think that he may have to live the rest of his life in such a decidedly different arc, the trajectory of his life being forever and inexorably altered by the carelessness of another.

Then almost immediately before retiring for the evening, the MTZ (Mountain Time Zone) child checked in with his mother to tell her that one of his friends - who is all of twenty - had told him earlier that evening of a diagnosis she received from her physician of not one, but two, types of cancer. At age twenty, someone decided that her plate - as well as that of her folks was not full enough - so a double serving of anguish was plopped upon it.

As a parent, there is nothing more terrifying than knowing the limits of your own power. Knowing that try as you might to protect the children you love from the world's ills, from dangers known and unknown, seen and undetectable to the naked eye, you cannot do so. So you do the best you can and you spend an inordinate amount of time hoping and wishing - that whatever you are doing and whatever your child is doing is enough to make whoever the cruel, heartless prick is who determines who lives and who does not pass your child by and leave him or her unscathed.

Sadly, all the wishing in the world does not always make it so. Sometimes bad news lands squarely on your doorstep. Just as often, it lands perhaps a house or two away but its effect upon those you love and those about whom you care is present nevertheless.

And even when it is the latter and not the former that occurs, your inadequacies and inabilities as a parent are on full display for all to see because even when the injury is inflicted upon one about whom they care and not upon themselves directly, you are still unable to protect your children from it. You wish you could, in small part at least because if you could figure out how to protect them, then maybe you could figure out how to protect yourself as well.


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