The segment is almost 37 minutes long and I let it play in the background this morning as I sipped my coffee from my urban home, lucky as I am to have been born a woman in the United States of America. It is not something I am going to summarize. It’s worth listening to.
One portion of it struck me visually. The uncle who committed the honor killing experienced his brother and sister-in-law's death almost immediately following his act of murder. In a twist of complete irony, he ended up the head of the family – father to the children who lost a sister at his hands.
The visual part is coming up.
He ended up being loved by them. And then he got cancer, too, and as he was dying, painfully, surrounded by their love and care, he thought he saw the girl he killed when Khalida walked through the door.
The interconnectedness, the ripples. One action and its effect on everyone else. He probably felt entitled to take her life at the time, empowered by others to do it. At the end, it wasn’t right. He had to live with it (and die, too, human bonus). He had to face the people he harmed. Her parents died – was it related to his act? Her mother could not eat, she said a cancer would grow where the food took hold. Her father died unexpectedly. The man had to see his family torn to pieces because of him. Denial is sometimes impossible in the face of what is right in front of you.
My mother grew up in a home where her mother worked in a foundry and her father was a blacksmith in a similar shop; working class, blue collar folks. They had a modest shotgun style house. It was my mother’s job to keep it tidy. Middle child with all the responsibilities of an adult. After school, she would head over to the mental hospital to cook in the kitchen for a few hours, then head home and make dinner for the family. When her mother got home, if something was not right, anything to spark her temper, my mother took it head-on. She was the buffer for all the rage in the home. She took all of that to her own family when she escaped into a marriage with my father, a dreamer, a traveler, and a huge philanderer. Who deserves to prop up a loser like that your whole life? And who actually goes through with it?
My grandmother died Memorial Day weekend in 1981. She had a type of brain cancer that reached all over with tentacles; it could not be cured, or slowed down, at least in the 1980s.
She wasn’t yet 60.
My mother was affected, clearly distraught. It was one of the few times I could see into her own pain, through a window she did not know was open.
She did not go to the funeral. I bet she regretted it.
I go to the graves of my family quite often. They are all buried together, from my littlest uncle who died before he was 1, all the way up to my great grandparents born in the 1800’s. Sometimes I bring red roses, but just for the petals, to make a shower of them all over the stones. It’s dumb. Grieving is stupid and painful and ongoing, and I wish I were the person who did not have any feelings sometimes, to be one of the Great Compartmentalizers of this world.
People who can put things into little boxes and never glance at them again.
Not so, over here.
Have you ever thought of something you did or wanted to do, and the outpouring ripple effect? If you weigh things in your mind for long enough, make a diagram of decisions and outcomes, can you justify what you want over the outcome for everyone else?
Does everyone else always matter?
I know a hedonist or two. I marvel at their character, their blatant ability to deliver to themselves all the buffet of life can offer.
The Wiccan Rede “…an’ it harm none, do ye what you will” comes to mind.
My son asked me why I was having a hard time with religion. I said I have never really had any relationship with religion, it was the concept of the Divine I was struggling to understand. The connection of faith, what might be out there, up there, all around us, what it means to us as people, to nature, to the day to day. The difficulty of negotiating spirituality with guilt and evil.
He said, “About evil and bad things happening to good people…humans are always trying to do bad things, but there’s an equal amount of people out there trying to do good things, so don’t forget that.”
I totally hate it when he has a very good point.