Then a friend came to visit a few months after Candace had been killed. We hadn't seen each other for a while, and she told me about a few of the things she had gone through as a spectator of our experience. She told me about her own questioning as to why this should happen to a friend, and I realized anew that our friends had gone through this with us. It was good to hear her anger, her perspective of the news coverage, and her theories about what might have happened.
Then she told me how she admired my forgiving spirit. “I know that you have forgiven. I sense no vengeance in you.”
I was grateful for her words. I thanked her for her confidence. “We're trying,” I said.
Her next question caught me off guard. “If you could let yourself go, what would satisfy justice for you? Would it be execution?”
I had never allowed myself the question. I didn't think I was ready to face the complexity of it. But I felt safe with her, and her question was an interesting one.
Perhaps it was time to think about it. I purposely loosened my controls and explored my inner feelings, my emotions. My friend waited in silence as I fell into deep thought.
“No,” I finally answered, half to her and half to myself. “No, it wouldn't be enough.” Execution, capital punishment, wouldn't completely satisfy me emotionally. If the offender were executed, he would be dying for something he did – he would deserve it.
I was shocked at my own answer.
Candace was innocent. She died young, in her prime, full of potential, full of anticipation, full of dreams – full of immediate plans for a good weekend. She would have contributed so much to our lives. Just to execute the offender would mean that he was being punished for what he had done. It would be removing a liability to society, a hopeless case.
I continued, “His death, one death, wouldn't satisfy me....” I went deeper into myself, groping for the feeling of equity. “Ten child murderers would have to die.” I paused, still groping for the satisfaction of justice.
It was almost as if another voice answered for me, “And I would have to pull the trigger myself.”
In my mind's eye, I saw ten hooded figures lined up against a brick wall. There was a gun in my hand and, immediately, I took advantage of the moment and aimed and pulled the trigger ten times. The figures fell one by one. They deserved to die.
The feeling was "delicious."
I've told this story a million times - and I always end it with the word "'delicious." And I have to admit I feel that "deliciousness" each time I say it.
"Delicious" is a body word... It is visceral.
Each time - after confessing and feeling the delicious, I have to climb the red stair case out of the reptilian grasp to the clarity on the top floor.
“I forgive,” I say again and again.
Seven times seventy times a day.
The purpose of art is to collide the intellectual and visceral together at the highest speed possible. - Penn Jillette