jeudi, juin 29, 2006

Two or three dimensions of a tragedy

It took me a long time to stop brooding about Andrea Yates. Four years ago, when she drowned her five children, I wrote an editorial about the Yates case for the Inquirer. Writing about her was, in one sense, a very selfish act... it was my exorcism, an attempt to cope with a crime that I still find beyond belief. In one sense (perhaps because I have the luxury of being far from the scene) I still can't believe the Yates children are really dead. Yet as Andrea Yates is re-tried, those of us who are parents are forced to envision, again and again, what it would take to want to kill our kids. I can't go there. I've gotten angry at my children. I've yelled at them. I've even thrown a plate of food across the room when I was on overload. But take the life of my child? It is totally beyond my power to imagine. Perhaps now it is beyond Andrea Yates power to imagine too, now that she is medicated and sane. On one level, and I admit that this is failure of compassion on my part, I am repulsed by Andrea Yates. Reading the accounts of her weeping in the court, and of the photos of drowned children brings back an anger so primal that it has nothing to do with Christ. In the depth of my unforgiving rage (who am I to forgive her?) I see my own failure to love. Thank God that there are those who have a broader and perhaps deeper love than I do. Perhaps underneath my hatred lies fear...there but for the grace of God... I wonder , as I have wondered before, about the emotional life of her ex-husband, Rusty Yates. He was not charged in the murders. What could he have been like to leave those kids with a mother in the grip of profound depression? There are no answers in the Yates case. Only the knowledge that these babies are beyond the power of anyone to hurt them now. And the face of a tormented mother, who must live, until the day she passes to the greater judgement we all must face, with memories beyond my power or desire to understand. I suppose that is punishment enough.

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