I finally responded to Garry’s long letter. I wasn’t really sure where to start, I mean, his letter was very intense and very dense. So I just said that. I told him how much I appreciated his honesty and how much he trusted me to share his story with. I told him when I was reading it how it was easier for me to pretend I was reading a fictional novel rather than his true-life story.
It’s the same thing I had to do a few semesters ago when I (stupidly) took the course Literature of the Holocaust. If you ever want to cry your eyes out, contemplate suicide, and forgo sleep for about…how long is a semester? Then I highly recommend reading Primo Levi, Louise Murphy, or Jiri Wiel. I did not even finish most of the books (I know, bad literature student), but for the few chapters I did read, I had to pretend it was just some sick twisted author making up some sick twisted plot just to be sick and twisted. I couldn’t tell myself it was real life.
Same goes for Garry’s story, although, obviously, it is nowhere near the disturbing, heart-wrentchingly sad retelling of Holocaust events, it still rubs me the wrong way and I still don’t want to convince myself it is true.
I slipped into my letter that since his story reads so much as a book…that maybe “one day” I’d write a real book about his life. Of course, as I told him, I won’t do anything without his permission and his family’s. In all honesty, I really think a book about his life would be an interesting read; it would definitely be interesting and enthralling to write. My initial thought after getting to know Garry and recognizing the awkward and uncomfortable feelings I’m having over the whole situation was to publish a book with my journals–which have been typed and publishing in this blog–but with obviously more. I can’t do anything without his knowledge/permission though. I don’t know if that’s legally true, but for me, morally.
After talking about what he told me in the previous letter, I commented on his gracious redrawing of the Jesus photo so I can hang it on my wall. I told him it was an incredibly sweet gesture and if he did send it to me, I would frame and hang it. That wasn’t a lie. I just didn’t tell him how it would not be over my bed and how I do not believe he would watch over me and protect me. Whatever. It’s for the better anyway.
I also told him how happy I was that he had a strong family behind him. I didn’t want to be like “I can’t believe a criminal on death row has a family,” so I tried to word it in politically correct terms, but basically I wrote “I’m happy you have a family who sticks with you no matter what.” And I am. Happy. For him. That’s weird, right? To be happy for someone waiting to be executed by the state?
It sucks now that I know he didn’t actually do anything to deserve his punishment. I mean, it’s great that he didn’t murder anyone, of course! But it’s like…damn… he’s innocent, but he spent the last 14 years behind bars awaiting his death. It’s sick to think that some cop, some judge, some warden, won’t give Garry the time he deserves to review his case HONESTLY and realize he didn’t do the horrible thing he was accused of.
But still, Garry always seems to have hope in his tone. He is at peace with his life, he has a good family, he has at least one friend in me; what more could he ask for at this point, besides his freedom? He still writes that he hopes to be reunited with his freedom soon and it’s still the most haunting line he writes. I couldn’t take it anymore so I mentioned it in my response. I quoted him (as if I was writing a paper and not a letter to a prisoner who hardly speaks English) and asked if that meant he was appealing the ruling and trying to be exonerated. I didn’t ask if it was the other option–the freedom of death. I’ll let him divulge that information when he feels ready.
That’s the next step, anyway. I already asked what crime he was convicted for, I don’t think it’s fair to also ask him when he’s going to die. Not yet, at least. Although I know he trusts me and I know he’s always honest with me, I think I respect him too much at this point to ask such a personal detail. I’m just so glad that the respect I have is not for a child murderer, like I had thought for the past few months!
I ended my letter with talking a little bit about the Boston bombings. What I didn’t say was how when they were about to inevitably catch Dzhokhar Tsarnaev when he was hiding on the boat, that I was secretly hoping they’d just shoot him. I guess in the spur of the moment my real opinions come out–I guess I am pro-death penalty.
That being said, I still don’t think Garry should be killed. I was talking the other day to one of my coworkers about a paper he had to write for a Criminal Justice class when he was in college about capital punishment. He said at the time he was doing his case study, which was about seven or eight years ago, over 30% of the prisoners who were executed after receiving a death sentence were later found to be not guilty due to advances in technology over the years. Even one year could be the difference between real evidence or fabricated. We have so much technology as it is, but there’s always going to be more.
Okay, fine, I guess I’m still on the fence about it. Regardless, I don’t want Garry to be executed while there are still questions about his potential innocence. I really want to know when his date is, but I’m still so scared.