Regret: When Violence Strikes Home

There is an evilness that lurks, watching and waiting for the vulnerable, smiling a wicked, crooked smile when it takes human form to perform its heinous tasks. This monster will creep in and strew hurtful, painful, unspeakable acts of viciousness without concern or trepidation.

In October 2009, a kind, giving man who always wanted to belong was murdered. He was a caring man who could easily be manipulated in the name of “friendship.” His gentle soul and pleasant countenance was all wrong for the life-style he led. His need to be part of the group and his gentleness left him exposed in that world that he chose to live in. It was a world where his older brother lived and encouraged him to join in the way that only an older brother can. However, when the evil one crept into and covered this gentle soul with violence and death, his older brother was not there to protect him and neither was I, his older sister.

He was hardly a threat to anyone. Ten years previously, veins from his legs were removed to place in his heart for a double bypass. After that surgery, he walked with a cane to steady his weaken legs.

He was beaten to death. His hands and feet were bound. A plastic bag covered his head, bound with wire around his neck. His spleen was ruptured. The coroner said he may have been kicked while he was down; that might explain the rupture. His apartment was set on fire.

The Certificate of Death read as Cause of Death (1) Hemothorax – my medical dictionary says that means blood in the chest space between the chest wall and the lung most commonly caused by chest injury (2) Left rib fracture and splenic maceration – meaning fractured ribs and ruptured spleen (3) Blunt force injury to left flank (side).

And yet, the demons twisted evilness wanted more. They set a fire to the apartment, causing second-degree burns to the left side of his body and placing other innocent adults and children living in that building in harm’s way. Yet somehow, my brother was given strength to those bound, weakened legs; given purpose to that beaten body and breath to that plastic-covered air deprived mind and brain and in his panic, pain and beaten, crippled state, somehow he managed to get to the doorway of that burning building where he was found. He died in a local hospital.

He was my brother and when violence strikes home, its effect is kinetic. His blood flows through my veins and until the memorial service, whenever I was alone, in the silence of my room, I could feel his pain; I could feel his panic. I could hear the sounds and feel the hot breath of the fire as he – and I – struggled for air and a way to get out of that burning room. Dear God, have mercy.

Death by violence perpetrated by demons in human form presents a different kind of problem for those who remain living. Our spirits cry out for justice.

I found that I could not depend on the police for justice. My regret is a question: How does one seek justice when there seems to be none? I could not afford to pay someone to find and “bump off” the perpetrators of the evilness. So, I prayed that I could work toward balance and grace where there was chaos, strife and violence. I prayed for joy where there was sorrow and shame.

Once we held his memorial service where we lifted him up in prayer, song and praise, asking blessings for his life, my feelings and visions of panic and pain dissipated. A feeling of peace enveloped me and I knew that he was with God.

Funerals and memorial services are practiced for the living as well as the dead. The practices vary in different cultures; however, the outcome, in most cases, is that we say goodbye to the loved one and pay tribute to his or her life, establishing closure and finality.

As I stated in an earlier post, I don’t think much about how he died, I think about the fun, goofy things we did when we were young. And although I still seek justice, I am at peace knowing that justice will be served at some point; I truly believe that. But for now, I want to encourage an environment of peace, kindness and love…just like my brother always wanted.

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