When the memorial dogwood blooms

I have been putting off this post until today, when I finally made myself take a picture of the dogwood tree that we planted on campus in front of my office at the Women’s Studies Center. This is the dogwood that our friend Mary Ellen Miller bought and arranged with WKU to plant in honor of our youngest son, who was murdered on October 26, 2009, by a man who lived then on a county road outside Bowling Green (he now lives in prison). It is perhaps no by-the-way that we have just this week learned that the conviction of Manslaughter 2 has been appealed on the grounds that the judge’s “Instructions to the Jury” may have been faulty due to his decision not to include instruction for self-defense . . . and we may witness again a trial of the man who shot and killed our son, Casey. This leaves me in a state of cerebral hemorrhage, metaphorically speaking, as my mind is sound and nothing bleeds, except in the way of language.

A number of confusions seem to come bubbling up from that paragraph, to whit:
–what the hell do I mean by “instructions,” why is it quoted and why did Judge Wilson decide that it was appropriate to leave out the possible sentence of self-defense in his directions to the jury?
–why the hell did the man who killed our son get “Man-2″ rather than Wanton Murder, as he should have, at least in the judgment of Casey’s family?
–why did we bleed, why do we bleed, why did he have to bleed, where is the blood, what is blood, what is death and loss and heartbreak?
–there are certainly more, like what is his life like, the man who shot the gun, and what is prison?
–why did I have to “make myself” take the picture?

But here is the tree, from today:

Casey's Dogwood Tree

Casey’s Dogwood Tree

And here is was when we planted it in the cold winter of 2010, 2 1/2 years ago:

The root ball

The root ball

I can’t get a handle on this post–it’s pulling me this way and that way. There must be 2-3 or 4 or 5 posts here, or one long post that goes into the darkness of tonight . . . so how to pull it together for the post-at-hand….?

What is a tree–even a dogwood–to the loss of a son?

When I pass the tree and the plaque, which I do every day I go to my office, I either notice or don’t notice the dogwood and the plaque. When I do, I say, “Hello, darling, I love you lots,” and sometimes I make the sound of a kiss, such as when we blow a kiss to someone we’re driving away from. . . . When I don’t notice, I suppose my head is down or my gaze akimbo, at any rate, not on him, my thoughts a ways away. For this I am sorry, and I say this too, when I realize that I haven’t been acknowledging him or sending him a conscious thought though I pass this reminder almost daily. That’s when I say, “I love you even when I don’t notice that you’re gone.”

3 thoughts on “When the memorial dogwood blooms

  1. Jane,
    When first we met I admired the professor before me with such brilliance. You continue to teach not only in the classroom but as well through your life experiences and I could read your writings in even small posts as a great novel but I cannot imagine how your heart still breaks.

    When I read of your tragedy my heart breaks at the mere thought of such loss as your child. My professor, my friend, I feel your heart in your words and I offer mine back in prayer.



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