Sunday, October 11, 2009

10/11 Chuck forgives Michael and other reflections

On our trip to Findlay Saturday, Chuck made several clear statements. He asked me to call Michael's family to pass on the message that he forgave Michael completely, that he likes Michael and feels regret for his family.

Chuck now has a handful of incomplete memories about the evening.

What I have pieced together for myself is that there had been destructive, unruly tenants recently evicted who may have been responsible for a break-in at Michael's sister's apartment that night. There was an unidentified vehicle, a tow-truck, police and a series of misunderstandings that led to entrenched positions that ended in a tragedy for both families. The police could have/should have prevented the outcome. As much as we all are tempted to think in black and white, good guys and bad guys, victims and monsters, the story is much more mundane, much more human. The apartment building (a place with many fond memories for us)was in a shambles and a scary place to live for several days after. Little by little, it has been restored to its former sense of security and order in a family-occupied neighborhood.

Do I think Michael had cause for anger that evening? Probably. Do I think that a guy who resolves his anger by pummeling a person half his size into a wall gets to live out here with the rest of us? No, I do not.

I asked Chuck if he had a choice between permanent brain damage and years in prison, which one he'd choose. He chose years in prison.

An elderly Detroit-born African American man who spoke at our prayer vigil said "Come let us reason together." He spoke of blacks and whites living near each other after segregation but not genuinely coming to know and trust one another as neighbors and friends. He saw our tragedy in part as a reflection of this condition.

A case like ours almost invites the old divisions, but distrust, blame and fear of the "other" is not something we want to participate in or encourage. Though a violent crime was committed and our losses may well continue the rest of our lives, we will try living our lives daily with optimism and love. It's the only thing of real value we own, and which, while we have each other, can never be taken away.


  1. Thank you Auburn and Chuck for continuing to inspir with your honest humanity and your willingness to be real and vulnerable and imperfect. And it is SO GOOD to hear you talk, Auburn, about making time for your writing- p

  2. Dear Auburn and Chuck. How touching this post was for me. My Dad is 92 and recently had a stroke which changed always sweet and endearing personality into sometimes paranoid, delusional and very unhappy. We are told it is the direct result of the stroke. He has been separated from his wife and gets so lonely and depressed. I could go on and on, but yesterday, while visiting him, he called his wife and had trouble talking as usual. He said in frustration... "I don't know what to say." I said "Just tell her you love her, Dad"...and he spoke directly into the phone and said emphatically, "I love you Madalin and that is all that matters!!!!". It drove home to me that sometimes an I LOVE YOU and THAT'S ALL THAT MATTERS is enough. Love you both, Lynn