Haunted Nights

Her first letter to me was peppered with humor, insight and intelligence – wisdom gained by those that have seen the devil, held his hand, and walked away.  It started as research for me, nothing personal nor emotional. I was researching death row, specifically women on death row.  I was trying to crack the code, so to speak, on death row standards in regards to prisoner rights and the U.N Declaration of Human Rights.

I didn’t know anything about her crime. I have made it my own personal policy to not ask – a way to know the person, not the criminal. That does not mean that these details are not revealed to me over time, but she was different. She did not offer and I did not ask. She didn’t try to sell me on a story of innocence, nor did she beg me to help save her life. She shared rare glimpses of her life, past and present, with kindness and sincerity.

It was only after I read court documentation that I questioned her fate.

I came to appreciate her sense of humor and her wisdom, often founded in faith. She stopped becoming a research subject and started to become a person, and then, dare I say, a friend.

And then she was gone. Put to death. Unfairly. You will not convince me otherwise.

In 18 minutes, her life was erased.

And I still have nightmares of it.

Because it was not painless.

Nor was it like putting an animal to sleep.

The leg, shaking.

The fear in the eyes.

The crack in her voice.

And at night, when I close my eyes, it is all those things that still haunt me.

Two days later, after she was gone, she whispered to me from the grave, via letter, mailed the day of her execution.

“Thank you for the kindness and compassion you have shown to me. When I get to heaven, I will tell your Mama how proud of you she should be.”

I stay up until my body forces me to sleep.

Even then, the light is on.

And I still see her leg shaking, hear her voice cracking and see the fear in her eyes.

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10 thoughts on “Haunted Nights

  1. A. Mueller,
    Excuse me, but if this person did not warrant having her name named for posterity, then what are you doing here? I mean what is the point other than stroking your own sense of self worth.
    Death is nothing without a name. Animals die on the side of the road every day. 1000s have died in Burma without a name.
    I don’t really care how this affected YOU, and find this post disgustingly self aggrandizing.
    So you can write pretty shit about the death penalty. It doesn’t matter without a NAME. Just ask Lissie Borden. She knew their names.
    You do no service to stopping the Death Penalty without a Name. You only serve to prove that people do not understand. Your words are like tears falling on asphalt.
    You do no service to Women WITHOUT A NAME.
    WHO????????
    WHO DIED????????
    The worst thing anyone can do is face the Reaper as an idiot.

  2. You are definitely entitled to your opinion, however, this is not about anyone other than me and how she has impacted ME and how this loss has impacted ME. During the every day course of my job, I fight for many different people while putting its emotional impact on me aside. This is the one thing I have allowed MYSELF because, for the first time since her death nearly two months ago, these were the only words I could muster. This post is not about stopping the death penalty, nor is it about taking any sort of political stance, this is ME processing MY emotions. I AM entitled to that. Thank you.

    • That works for me. I appreciate your reply, and take back all my vitriol about self-aggrandizement. The Death Penalty isn’t a political question to me. It’s real, and those who’ve fallen to it deserve mention –regardless of their crime and regardless of their gender.
      Thus I still wish we knew who you were talking about.
      What’s the point of being killed if know one knows your name?
      Thank you.

      Charlotte, just because I’m a man doesn’t mean I didn’t come from a woman. That is the only way it goes. So don’t try to frame me as a misogynist asshole. Gender bias is just that. This post bothered me because it fails to honor the fallen by naming them. It had nothing to do with the fact that a woman did it or that it is published in a “woman’s forum”. Trying to walk on one leg won’t get you anywhere.

      • I have seen people try to capitalize on this woman, for their own gain and to cure their own sick, morbid curiosity. She deserved more than that from them, which is why I didn’t name her — it was not a question of not remembering her by not naming her, it was my way of honoring her because in the last few months, several individuals have tried to take advantage of that. She never would have treated me in that way, if the situation were reversed, and I will not do that to her.

        • Thanks again, A Meuller. I really appreciate your outreach.
          And I honor your feelings. Really. You hang. I don’t know what your talking about or who you’re talking about (and that saddens me like watching Aung San Suu Kyi languish imprisoned) but I can certainly give you the honor you’ve given me for the way you feel about it.

          I’m not here to bother women.
          I come from a family of Femmes, the kind of women that make other women want to scratch their eyes out. Strong women. Smart women. Accomplished women.
          I respect them, every one of them, and love them all.
          I certainly won’t make that mistake again here.

          “And dat’s the name of Dat Tune.”

      • My comment was meant as a statement of the one thing I require of our readers: respect. That’s all. At no time did I infer you were “a misogynisst asshole” and I don’t think that. That is not how I operate and I think you know how I feel about people who are sarcastic and verbally abusive. Right?
        You need to go back and read your original comment to Amy. There are ways of getting your point across and there are other ways. I’m sorry, but my opinion of that comment was that you sounded like some other people I’ve dealt with that I have no respect for at all. But I know you aren’t like them.
        You & Amy seem to have made peace so that’s good enough for me. K?

        • I hope you don’t mind but might as well post the apology I just emailed you.

          Charlotte,
          I hope you can accept my apologies for slamming your poster. It won’t happen again. As I went back and reread and reread again and again, it became apparent that I was being an asshole, so I know forgiveness may take a little more work. Do try though, please.

          I wasn’t allowed to see my friend get it in Parchman State Penn MS, but his mother described it as exactly like when they put down old Bo the sheep dog. Just like that she said… his mother in tears. He did it btw, killed his wife and admitted to it. Didn’t appeal the verdict. He too shall remain nameless here.
          But when I first read that in your posters piece… I went cold, like had to turn on this little heater by my desk. A. Mueller got right back at me, and I hope that went well considering.

          Regarding my comment to you… I know you ain’t kicking me outta NOLAFemmes. But it is true what I said about the Femmes in my family, from my mother to sister, step mother, aunts from Celista Bell to Lady Bobby. Formidable Femmes.
          S’all I’m sayin.
          I’ll do better next time.

          Love da’Femmes!

  3. This blog is a place I have created for the women I have chosen to write about whatever they please. I do not and will not censor. Readers who like or don’t like what they read here are welcome to make comments as long as they show RESPECT to the writer. Further, if a reader strongly dislikes what is written, he/she is free and urged to go elsewhere.

    And dat’s the name of dat tune.

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