I haven’t shared yet what it was like to testify at the preliminary hearing connected with my brother’s murder. Probably because I’ve been trying to figure it out for myself.
It was … I guess unbelievable is the best word to describe how it felt to sit about 20 feet from the man accused of killing my brother. A brother I never knew. At the risk of going all maudlin or melodramatic I need to say that I didn’t realize how much I would miss knowing John. From everything I’ve learned about him it’s easy to see we’d have connected on many levels. I believe the nerdy/geeky/sci fi gene exists! It must be in our DNA! All my brothers and my sister are smart and like sci fi, computers, etc. Loving sci fi came later in my life, but I was one of those kids in school. I was smarter than average, I wore glasses and I was uncomfortable in social situations. Total nerd or as we’re often called today, geek.
Part of my testimony was to identify my mother’s handwriting and a photograph of her. I was shown a signature on John’s birth certificate and another on his adoption papers and was asked whether I could identify the signatures as hers. The surname was not one I’d known her by but I confirmed they were indeed her signature. The deputy DA then asked if I had seen her signature growing up, probably to establish that I had credibility. I assured him I had, on permission slips and report cards as well as notes for school absences. There was no doubt the signatures were hers.
A little background here about the next part: Prior to my traveling to California the DA’s office had asked for photographs of my mother. I sent out a request to my brothers and sister since none of the few I had seemed useable. I received back more than 25 photos, some of which I’d never seen before. One in particular caught my attention. In it Mom was wearing a sweatshirt with some words on it, sitting in a what appears to be a recliner and she was beaming.
B E A M I N G!!
I had never, ever seen her smile like that while I was growing up. Sure, she’d smiled and laughed some but there was just something about this photo that expressed a JOY I’d never seen before. I sent that one along with another that was a little clearer.
After identifying the signatures as hers, the deputy DA put up on the overhead projector the photo of Mom beaming and asked if I could identify the person in the photo. I looked at the photo from my place on the stand and I felt myself beaming back at her even as I turned to face the deputy and said, “That’s my mom!”
I didn’t “get” the epiphany then, only hours – maybe days later. I don’t recall exactly when I understood the feeling I had when I looked at her photo on the screen and grinned in response. It was forgiveness. Mine for her. I’d thought that I had forgiven her years ago but apparently I hadn’t truly let it go. Recognizing her joy, I was so glad that she had found that kind of happiness, and proud to claim her as my mom.