I had invited guests to meet at our house to debrief after but I had no idea how to plan for a verdict I could not predict - would he be declared "guilty or not guilty?"
I thought of lighting an eternal flame – something that would burn forever to commemorate Candace. But then I thought of the expense, the attention and the management of such a flame that might become onerous. We didn’t need to saddle anyone with another burden.
There is simply nothing as magical as candles and that little bit of fire at the end of the wick….
We would need 33 candles.
Thirty-three tells a story. Numbers have meanings. There was the 7-week search, the 7-year trial process from the first trial to the end of the second. There was the date, January 17, the day Candace’s body was found, the day the first trial started, and the second trial as well.
I could go on and on – but suffice it to say that the number 33 has significance for me – the number represents an ending and a profound new beginning.
But that's where I stopped functioning.... I could think of nothing else. I made all kinds of mistakes in the invitations, in food prep and I even laid out 31 candles instead of 33.
Finally the day came and the verdict - "Acquittal."
When the Judge said the word, our Executive Function of our brain panicked. Both Cliff and I wanted to bolt.
But before we left the Law Courts Building, we still had to face the media that were waiting just outside the main doors.
We could have ducked out the side door – we knew that the security guards would let us do that. But we had never done that before – why should we now?
The media were important in getting the true story out. As frightening as their questions were – they were honest journalists.
We stepped outside the door. There was a bank of cameras and reporters.
The mischievous wind was swirling so they took us to the other side of the building… out of the west wind. The first question came, I looked at Cliff – and he was silent. I knew that he was at a real disadvantage, his executive functioning brain needs time to process. When my brain isn't functioning, my heart takes over and the words flow -- but who knows what I'll say.
The ride home was long as we processed it all again and again. There were those second thoughts, and then those third thoughts – fourth, fourth, fifth and then way down to twenty.
It was a thought trek of a million seconds, minutes that spanned 33 years.
The worst fear was: had the acquittal put us back to square one? Would we have to start another 33-year journey? Would the suspicion come back? Would all those public questions now intensify? Would anyone still want us around? Had our social equity value plummeted to nothing? Was this a failure – a public embarrassment for all of us, the Crowns, our friends included?
For the last ten years, the justice process had taken control of our lives, time, schedule, thoughts and organization. Now we were floating like a balloon - released into the clear blue sky ready to burst as it sailed towards the blistering hot sun.
Our minds were scrambled.
After the verdict we went home and waited. The journalist with their cameras came first and politely interviewed our friends as they came in. All our friends found beautiful and comforting things to say.
The candles glowed.
The conversation flowed.
The stories were as bright and warm as the candles.
After our guests had gone home, Cliff and I shut off all the lights and sat in the magical candlelight that makes everything beautiful.
We sat there in the dark staring at those candles – now they were no longer simple white unscented candles. They were 33 candles blessed by friends.
If those candles weren’t there, we would have been staring into the dark.
And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about. – Haruki Murakami
Some have asked for more information regarding these brain functions - so I have gone back and added an application to the last six blogs.
Executive Function is that which controls by self regulation, self-control, time management and organization.
Forgiveness allow us to push past the fear of making a mistake as we plan and organize our day. To plan for something as uncertain as a verdict after a decade long process, was daunting. There is such a thing as anticipatory forgiveness to offset anticipatory anxiety.