For anyone who surmises that Tim was laughing up a storm upon learning that his May 16th date with the executioner would be delayed until June 11th, well, you're very wrong. He was dismayed and upset at having to relive his agonizing good-byes to his distraught family, not to mention securing his mindset on preparing to die. No, he's not laughing, nor are his loved ones. No, Tim was given no favours with the knowledge that the FBI "screwed up" (Senator Patrick Kennedy's words). However, I'm personally relieved that the letter I figured would be the last he'd receive from me, now allows me to further communicate with a man who is so completely misunderstood and even more vehemently despised, even by those who weren't victims of his crime, just the huddled masses who seem to think they have the answer to the death and destruction Tim caused. Well, they don't.
Remember that black and white film, probably the most powerful and realistic project regarding the death penalty and its intense psychological effects, entitled, "I Want To Live"? It starred a young Susan Hayward and she portrayed real-life criminal, Barbara Graham, who, for lack of a more original description, happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, when one of her partners-in-crime killed someone and she was guilty by association. The end result was that she was convicted of murder and sentenced to die in the gas chamber.
From the outset, Graham was considered a victim of the system, garnering support and friendship from female guards at the prison. Barbara's lack of a killer's profile dumbfounded one guard in particular, who, together with Graham, tried to clear her name and get her off of death row. However, when she was not given clemency, her time was up and she was dressed and prepared to be executed. I remember that female guard who'd been Barbara's friend all through her ordeal, noticing that her condemned friend had forgotten her shoes as she was led to the gas chamber and ran after her to that Graham could achieve some semblance of dignity. However, just as she was about to climb into the killing machine, the governor called and gave her a stay of execution.
Graham was both relieved and horrified---she'd be forced to walk that last and lonely mile once again. She cried and was comforted. This happened two more times and the effect on Barbara Graham was devastating. She'd gotten to the point where she was ready to die and they kept dangling that damned carrot in front of her eyes. Sometimes, stays of exectution---actually, most times---are more psychologically damaging than if the deed was done on schedule. Finally, Graham's "luck" ran out and as she was strapped into the death chair, the executioner said to her, "Take a deep breath--it's easier." Graham's classic response to him was, "How the hell would YOU know." Yes, she had class and courage to the end.
And so it is with Tim. For all we know, he could get a second delay and maybe a third or forth. Yes, we who oppose the death penalty are relieved that he gets more time to live and to get his affairs in order, but McVeigh himself just wants it over with. I imagine that was why he stopped his appeals. I've read that his lawyers believe that his execution could be delayed for months and even years and would it were so. Then he could stop preparing, he could resume eating and even contemplating feeling some sense of remorse for his crime.
Yes, the lonely, cold and dismal act of waiting. Sitting in his cell, devoid of all the possessions he's given away, trying to escape his morbid thoughts by watching "The Simpsons," "King Of the Hill" and "Star Trek." The world of make-believe, the two-dimensional territory of cartoonland, provides a kind of soothing balm for the heart and soul of a man seared with fear and confusion. The days are agonizingly long for him and he tries to keep a sense of order and familiarity by making his bed army-style and leading his limited life in an austere manner. Maybe that makes everything hurt a little less.
It is time for us to forgive and move on. The hurting among you will get no relief by watching a heart monitor flatline. Don't kid yourselves. You'll shed hot tears of despair.......until then, the waiting keeps grinding on and on.
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