Taylor was still gone.
A life was destroyed.
Children lost their mother.
It was the last time Joey and I will be called upon to formally act as Taylor's mom and dad. Preparing to read and reading that impact statement mimicked planning and attending our daughter's funeral. The very real pain has evoked an acrid spirit and an angry heart..
I submitted the impact statement 10 days before the sentencing date as did many friends and family members. The statements remain a part of the case file, and I am told will be reviewed the first time the defendant is eligible for parole. The court provided me with a copy of my statement upon my arrival to the Tulsa County Courthouse. Atop the page a hand had written the case file number and the defendant's name. It infuriated me. The criminal justice system suffers under the weight of too many cases and too many lost people. There is no way to effectively care for the victims, yet there was this number and name on the same page as the words I had carved out of my heart to describe my daughter.
Our case was called first and I was asked to approach the witness stand, where I sat and where the judge swore me in. Several attorneys sat in a pool to the left of the judge and the court reporters, shuffling their papers and talking amongst themselves. When they didn't quiet after I began reading, I thought very seriously about reprimanding them. Again, the anger in me at the injustice and insincerity of the moment boiled. I didn't. I just affixed my gaze in their direction until those who were perceptive enough received the message. The witness stand, where I sat to read our family's statement, sits adjacent to the jury box. The woman who hit the kids that night sat immediately to my right in the jury box just a yard away. I could hear her breathing, sniffling, crying as I read. The court reporters sitting directly in front of the judge and slightly to my left often used one hand to wipe tears from their eyes. I had to pause several times regrouping to read with composure. Taylor didn't cry in public. Her mama was going to do her proud.
After I finished reading, I took my seat with Joey and family and friends. I looked at the top of the page again and without anger I realized that we will be forever connected to this soul, the defendant. I am going to have to deal with that.
And then it was time to square our shoulders and do Thursday. So we did. How well we did Thursday, I am not sure. I just know we got up.
I wasn't going to write this.
There have been other really wonderful and good events occur since Wednesday that deserve this space and now that I have recounted September 30th, and been honest in this space, I can share with you how faithful God is to place arms that love and hold us on the worst day of our lives and every day after - hopefully those words won't be stifled tonight.