Sorry I have been out of touch for a bit. I’ve been getting my novel The Hard Way ready for my book club to read this Saturday. I’m excited to hear their feedback about the manuscript. I went back and forth about whether I should have had it read as a club selection, but what better way to get feedback, positive or negative. It will hopefully help me when I start sending it to editors.
Mrs. Stockton is going to make her return next week in another series of short chapters of another short story. Be sure to keep an eye out for it!
Ed said that her email address would be hidden from him and not to sign it, to keep the process more anonymous. But she all but gave him her name in what she wrote, he will know who it is from. She read through it a couple more times before she hit send. When ‘your message has been sent’ appeared on the screen she wanted the email back. She didn’t want to stir up the feelings with him. She was scared of the answer and hearing from him. Keeping this line of communication open with him made her nervous, but now all she could do was wait and see.
She didn’t know how to feel. She got the answer that she wanted. She felt relieved but was also saddened by the fact that he would be in jail for the rest of his life because of it.
A cup of tea and a pad of paper would be needed, so she started making tea and found a notebook and pen. Ellen said to start jotting down ideas, doing it how and where she was the most comfortable. She looked out the kitchen window and saw Oxford out in the Tinker’s backyard. Maybe the porch would be a good place. With her tea in hand, she walked out there and settled in on the couch. After sliding her feet under her, she picked up the notebook and pen and started writing.
Dear Jerry Givings,
I am the Mother of the police officer you killed. I needed to write to you with a few questions I have.
Then she started to get mad at Walter again. Why wouldn’t he let her talk to him? With one shot, he had taken her son away from her. Didn’t she deserve a chance to yell at him? She wondered where she would be now if she had dealt with this back then. The question that she really wanted to ask was if he was sorry for what he did. He has had to face it everyday in prison since it happened just like she has in her own home. She decided to try writing again.
Dear Jerry Givings,
I am the Mother of the police officer you killed. I have been wondering, are you sorry for killing my son? I would have asked you at the time, but my family didn’t want the answer. Or, knew what the answer was and didn’t tell me. I would like to forgive you for what you have done so I can move on, but I don’t think I can. What you did was too much to be forgiven for. I have to forgive my husband for not letting me tell you how I felt before you went to prison. I think that is information you really needed to have then. Maybe you could be sorry now, if you aren’t already.
Mrs. Stockton stopped writing. That was the real issue. She would have liked to call him names and tell him that what he did was terrible and he needed to make it all better. She just realized that he wouldn’t have been able to make it better. He couldn’t bring Marty back. That’s what she needed to accept so she could move on.
She decided to call Ellen and let her know what she came up with. Ellen answered the phone on the second ring.
“Am I interrupting anything?” Mrs. Stockton asked.
“No, I was making some notes for a session I have tomorrow. How are you doing?”
“I have come across some ideas of why I am so upset.”
“What are they?”
“I wanted to yell and scream at him to make him sorry for what he did and have him fix it. He wouldn’t have been able to to that.”
“When it’s our own problem, it is always a bigger deal in our head than it may be on paper or outside ourselves. That’s why talking to other people helps sort things out and put them in a different perspective.”
“So, if I would have talked to someone sooner, I could have known this a while ago and not gone through all of this pain.”
“We don’t know that for sure. Some of the healing process takes time. And, you may not have been ready to start healing then. Your process might have had to take longer.”
“So, what do we do now?”
“Do you feel the need to send him an e-mail? Or do you think you can accept that and move on, once you forgive Walter for not letting you cope the way you needed to?”
“I can accept that he thought he was doing what was right for him, but was a little shortsighted when it came to how I felt. I don’t think I need the answer from Jerry now as much as I am curious if he would give me one. Maybe he’s sorry after all of this time.”
“So are you going to ask him?”
“Ellen, it is so good to see you,” Mrs. Stockton said, “please come in.”
“Just let yourself do what you need to do Shirley,” Ellen replied, “I’m just here to listen and I want you to be comfortable while you share your feelings.”
“O.k.,” she replied.
“Whenever you are ready to,” Ellen responded calmly to help calm her.
“I’ve never done this before,” Mrs. Stockton said, “I didn’t know if there was a right way to proceed.”
“There’s no set way to do it. Each session is different.”
“What do you want to know from him?” Ellen asked.
“If he’s sorry for the pain he has caused me and my family.”
“What do you think he’ll say?”
“Deep down I think I know.”
“That he doesn’t really care about what he did.”
“Will you accept that answer? Or do you want it to be something else?”
“It may be hard, but I will have to accept it. I want him to tell me that he didn’t mean to do it so I can forgive him and move on.”
“You may have to forgive him, but you don’t have to forget what he did.”
“Then it will still be on my mind. How do I move past it then?”
“You have to stop making it such a focus in your life.”
“I’m reminded every time the news says another cop has been shot.”
“The moving on process doesn’t mean you will never think about it again. It just means that you know how to manage it.”
“I’m feeling a wave of emotions swelling up in me.”
“What’s causing it?” Ellen asked, “Just let it out, whatever it is. You are in a safe place and I am here.”
“I’m angry at Walter,” she blurted out.
“Why are you angry at him?”
“He wouldn’t let me talk to someone about how I felt. He wouldn’t let me get mad at Jerry Givings.”
“Why didn’t he want you to talk to someone?”
“He didn’t want anyone else in our affairs. He didn’t want anyone outside of our family to know that we were hurting. He wanted us to appear as a strong family and not weak.”
“Why didn’t you talk to someone in your family? Share with them how you were feeling?”
“They didn’t understand. They didn’t just lose a son. And I couldn’t go against my husband’s wishes and talk to someone anyway.”
“So, what did you do to deal with the feelings you were having?”
“I didn’t know what to do with them. I just stuffed them deep down inside and tried to forget about it. But, I couldn’t forget about Marty.”
“There’s nothing wrong with how you handled it. You did what you did with the information you had at the time. And, you are angry about it because you felt held back from what you wanted to do.”
“You have to forgive yourself for not talking to someone about it then. You are talking to someone now and that’s a great first step.”
“Where do I go from here?”
“What I would like you to do is sit down and write the e-mail to Jerry. Don’t send it, but just write what you want to say to him. This letter doesn’t have to be well written. It just needs to get all of those feelings out so we can look at them. Think of it like writing in a personal journal.”
“What will I do with that?” she said, doubting that this was the right thing to do.
“I’m hoping that you will be able to share what you write with me. Then we can talk about it and make a plan for what our next step should be.”
“When do I have to have this ready by?”
“There is no deadline. Take your time and call me when you are ready to share. I wouldn’t stretch it out for very long though. We have started to touch on somethings already that are on your mind. Once they start to flow, it’s good to just let the walls break down and start the journey to heal.”
“This idea kind of scares me.”
“Getting the feelings out can be a hard thing to do. But just let them come out. I’ll be a phone call away if this becomes too overwhelming for you.”
How are you doing? Been thinking about you, knowing how hard things are right now. The feelings for me came in waves and I didn’t really know how I felt. It is o.k. to feel this way.
I want to run something by you. I’ve been given the opportunity to send an e-mail to the man who shot my son. I’m having mixed feelings about it enough to talk to a counselor tomorrow morning. Should I even do it? He may not even answer the question that I want to ask. I want to know if he is sorry for what he has done to my family.
Would love to know your thoughts.
“I would like to speak to Deputy Sheriff Ed Turner.”
“He’s out on a call. Would you like to leave him a message?”
“Do you know when he will be back? I would like to stop down and see him,” Mrs. Stockton replied.
“We are never sure when they will be back, best thing may be for you to leave him a message and have him call you.”
“Shirley?” A male voice on the other end inquired.
“Ed, how are you doing?”
“Better question is are you o.k.? Sounds like you are out of breath.”
“I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss your call, so when I heard it ring, I ran to it.”
“Well, it is good to hear your voice. How are things with the kids?”
“They are good. David’s daughter is going to school at Columbia.”
“Walter’s favorite place, he would be proud.”
“Nick is at USC on a football scholarship and Ben is in his third year at OSU.”
“Just like his Dad. Last picture I saw of him, he looks just like him too.”
“Almost a spitting image. Sometimes it is hard for me not to call him Marty. How are Ellen and the kids?”
“Good. Betsy is going to start her second year at Standford and Cory will be graduating from high school.”
“They have all grown up so fast, haven’t they?” Mrs. Stockton said.
“In your message you said you had a favor to ask. What do you have for me?”
“I want to know where Jerry Givings is.”
“Why do you want to know that, Shirley. He is never getting out.”
“I want to know if he is sorry for what he did to my family.”
“I’m almost sure he isn’t, but why do you want to know?”
“Trying to make peace with my son’s death. And besides, I never got to ask him.”
“Are you planning to visit him?”
“Maybe. Or just send a letter or call.”
“Well, prison is not a place for a nice lady like you. But, if you feel the need to do something, I would probably call or write.”
“So, you know where he is?”
“Of course I do, he killed my partner. And the only way he is getting out of there is if they roll him out on a gurney dead.”
“I’m not sure it is such a good idea. I don’t want him to hurt you any more than he already has. He’s not a nice man.”
“How could he hurt me any more than he already has. He killed my son.”
“I’d rather have you leave this alone.”
“I need to at least ask. He may not respond to me, but at least I tried.”
“Do you have an email address?” Ed asked.
“Yes,” she replied, hearing some typing in the background.
“I will give you the general email of the prison that he is at. You can send an email to him and he will get it. Whether he’ll respond is up to him. Will that work for you?”
“Yes, Ed. Thank you.”
“He told me that he was a police officer and that was shot in the line of duty,” Shelby replied.
“Let me show you a few things,” Mrs. Stockton said as she placed the scrapbook on the dining room table.
“Yes honey, I’ll be fine. I just miss him so much, and sometimes it makes me cry.”
“I wish I could have met him,” Shelby said, “but I wasn’t born yet.”
“You were born just a couple of years later. Your brother Nick was born about a month after it happened.”
“It had to be a tough time for our family.”
“It was hard to lose him, but I think that the hardest time for us was after Marty was buried and the shock started to wear off. The heart felt attention from others stopped and it was time for us to start moving on. Jenny had a nervous breakdown over what she was going to do. She was now a single Mom with no job, since Marty was supporting her, and a house payment to make.”
“What did she end up doing?” Shelby asked.
“She wound up going back to school and we took care of Ben for her. She got a degree in counseling and ended up working in a teen crisis center.”
“She’s a pretty strong woman,” Shelby said.
They looked through the rest of the scrapbook together and Mrs. Stockton was sharing memories with Shelby. She looked up at the clock and noticed the time.
“You’re right,” Mrs. Stockton replied, “let’s move into the porch.”
“I know. Why didn’t you ever work outside the home?”
“I grew up in a different time where the husband provided for his wife and family and the wife took care of the home.”
“My Mom and Dad both work,” Shelby said.
“Pretty nice jobs too. Keeps them busy. And keep you in school.”
“My scholarship helps with that too, Grandma.”
“Some of it is public information though.”
“The fact that he was arrested, what he was charged with, and what his sentence was, but not where he’s serving his time.”
“That’s too bad,” Mrs. Stockton replied.
“Why do you want to find him?” Shelby asked.
“I want to know if he is sorry for what he did to our family.”
“Did he ever say that he was?” Shelby asked.
“I never got to ask him,” Mrs. Stockton replied.
“Oh. I don’t think we are going to get much further with what we can get into. I’m sorry Grandma.”
“No worries honey,” Mrs. Stockton replied, “I have an idea who can help me.”
Your Grandchildren will have be with their Dad at the cemetery now, but they will have memories of him in their hearts. Tell them to always remember the man that their Dad was with them outside of his job.
If you ever need to talk about how you feel, please feel free to call me. I wish that I would have talked to someone when I was going through it. I realize now how much it may have helped me.
“Sure. She’s over by the guest book in the corner of the room. Just so you know, the service will start at 7:30 PM, but please feel free to have refreshments before that if you would like to.”
“Thanks Jack. And I’m so sorry about the loss of your Dad.”
“Thank you. He was doing what he loved to do when he died. The guy that killed him is the one that needs to be sorry for what he did.”
“Do you think that he is?” Mrs. Stockton asked.
“He said that he would do it again to protect his own skin, so I don’t think so.”
“That’s terrible,” Mrs. Stockton replied, “just remember your Dad with the good memories you have of him.”
“Thank you. I will.”
“My name is Shirley Stockton,” she replied shaking the hand that Denise offered to her, “I came here today to give you this envelope. It is my contact information. My son was killed in the line of duty about twelve years ago.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry for your loss,” Denise replied.
“And I’m sorry for yours. I just wanted to offer up my ear if you have anything you want to talk about.”
“I appreciate that more that you know,” Denise replied, “the department is taking very good care of Pam and the kids. They bring them anything they need day or night.”
“My daughter-in-law got the same kind of treatment. I sometimes felt a little left out by it,” she replied as she looked around the room where the guests were gathering in groups around the chapel, not wanting to sit down yet.
“I know what you mean. Does it ever get easier? Missing him I mean?”
“I still battle with it. I think it is because I didn’t talk about it more in the beginning and really deal with my feelings. They say that you will always miss them and maybe even stay angry for a while because they were taken from you through a senseless act. Makes it harder to accept.”
“Are you going to be here for the service?” Denise asked, “I would love to have you sit with us if you are.”
“I would be happy to,” Mrs. Stockton answered.