It was a terrible morning. More than twenty federal police and highway patrolmen armed with assault weapons converged on my parents home in rural Missouri in the summer of 2004 and took my brother away in handcuffs. It was 5:30 a.m. and everyone in the house had been sleeping. My parents were traumatized by the violent awakening. My mother wept. It wasn’t suppose to happen that way.
In her grief and anger my mother tore to pieces a number of the photos of my brother’s children and his wife and mailed the tattered pictures to them. Not her finest moment, but in times of deep sorrow people act foolishly. My mother would never see her grandchildren again. She was devastated. She has hope that one day my brother’s oldest daughter will want to see her. I don’t have the heart to tell her that’s not going to happen. She keeps a picture of Nikki on her nightstand.
I can’t remember what that kind of hope is like. So much of what I thought was everlasting was lost the day my brother was taken. I don’t dream or imagine or hope as I once did. Seeing all I’ve seen since Rick has been incarcerated has changed me. We all died a little that terrible morning. Watching my brother suffer with Parkinson’s disease in a hell where treatment is not forthcoming has crushed my spirit. I’ve seen such a dark side of mankind and I‘ll never be the same.
The law doesn’t know that a lot of things that were very important to me prior to this tragedy have all but evaporated. They were silly things maybe, like a belief in justice and the idea that men were civilized, and a feeling of pride in my country and the thought that America was different than all others. The law doesn’t know that those things were killed when my brother was taken at gunpoint. The law doesn’t care that those notions were murdered when my brother was raped and beaten in prison.
My brother’s grown children don’t care either. I think down deep my mother knows that. Until she dies she’ll keep that picture of Nikki on her nightstand and hope.