There are things that are supposed to be filled with power and mystery, big events of Life and Death that are supposed to have this huge and never-ending impact on how you see the world and how it relates to you. Some of it's true, some of it's not. Sometimes it's what you expected and sometimes it isn't. Sometimes the expectation is more real and more powerful than the event. Sometimes....
Long ago a relatively ingenious killer was paralyzed from the waist down during his arrest. Not wishing to go to prison for the rest of his life as a paraplegic, he looped an end of his sheet around the base of his hospital bed, threaded the sheet through the rails and looped the other end around his neck. He then used the bed's motorized controls to raise himself to a sitting position, strangling himself.
The body was discovered within a half hour and I was tasked to watch the body. To block the door, keep an eye on the crime scene and allow no one to enter or touch anything until the investigators got there. I stared at the corpse for hours until the detectives and the ME got their and did their thing. First professional body. Should have been a big deal. I don't remember who the ME was and just remember that the detective was really professional. My most detailed memory is of the report.
The SAR body recovery was important because it hit me right between the eyes afterwards that I no longer had much in common with regular people. But the event itself was different. One of the enforcement deputies was so freaked by the condition of the corpse that he called for a "critical incident debriefing". That's basically a group therapy session for people who have been through "interesting times". It can be useful. This one was led by two detectives. It became clear, right away, that the veteran SAR 'kids' had seen more bodies and more nasty ones, than either of the detectives. So it was: a man with brains splattered on a cloud -wept evening; a deputy so freaked he was demanding psychological help; an SAR rookie (me) toying with meaning and more disturbed by the reaction of friends than by the dead; and the SAR veterans, two young women, probably no more than twenty years old who are comparing this body to many others in terms of "ick" and "smell" and the sheer danger of recovery and wondering why they were wasting their afternoon. It wasn't the same event and didn't have the same meaning to anyone there.
I saw someone the other day. She was smoking outside the jail. A couple of years ago we stood in the driveway while detectives and the ME examined the body of a woman who had shot herself in the head. The woman was a friend of ours and a co-worker. We talked that day and hugged and reminisced. Then I went back to work, back to watching my deputies and listening to them and maybe listening a little harder for any words that might be hints about dark times. The smoking woman didn't go back to work, not for a long time. She was 'too stressed'.
So I saw her the other day. If you had asked me ten years ago what would happen if two people spent hours over the corpse of a friend, I would have said that some kind of bond would be forged. I was wrong. We shared a moment, nothing more. There is no connection, no similarity, no bond.
Jan 31st 2015 - If you are in the Bay Area ... This Saturday, 4 - 6pm ish. Book reading/discussion/Q and A on 'The Liar the Cheat and the Thief' + play, at Soja Martial Art...
4 days ago