There back when the Green River Killer was killing no one seemed to have any idea how to stop him even though they kind- of- sort- of knew who he was. DNA evidence evolved to the point of narrowing down the killer’s fluids to one person and the game was up. He pled guilty to forty-eight counts of murder and then led police to the sites of those victims no one had ever known about and a few they did.
If there is such a thing as closure and I’m fairly certain that sort of emotion is as personal and as intense as an orgasm. Maybe some of the families found that when the killer was put away for the rest of his life. Maybe there were some who wanted more, wanted revenge or wanted some sort of eye for an eye. You can’t get that from a serial killer because there isn’t anyone they’ll miss. Even killing them doesn’t help because then they’re just…gone.
A friend of mine was murdered back in 1984. That last sentence I just wrote is as much as I know about the case. I don’t want to know anything else. I don’t need to know anything else. The details of who and what happened next do not mean anything at all to me. “Closure” isn’t something I’ve ever sought if I understand the meaning of the word. I’m not looking to make peace with anyone for any reason. We weren’t speaking at the time, she and I, and I remember the last conversation we had; I was mean and snarly and I hung up on her. I remember feeling good after I did it. I remember feeling that because I had felt she had done bad things to me that I had just gotten part of that back.
It was over a year later, the murder was, and I can tell you exactly where I was and exactly what I was doing when I found out. The woman who called me was someone I knew very well but I couldn’t tell who she was at first. I didn’t understand what she was saying. Grief, terror, and sorrow took her like a wave and there wasn’t anything left.
In this particular case I decided never to speak if it again in public or to anyone who knew her and I haven’t. That’s my “closure”. I still remember her face, the sound of her voice, the way she walked, and the fact that she laughed hard as hell when she thought something was funny.
The English language is a difficult thing when done properly but a beautiful thing when done well. I cannot speak for other languages except my own and I cannot tell you if this language, English, is easier or harder or even if such comparisons are valid when dealing with emotion. This emotion is one felt so deeply there is only one tree in a forest that has one leaf that falls for it. I think that’s where the theory of closure came from. From what I’ve seen and heard there is an expectation of sorts. There’s this talk of putting things in order, of letting go of the past, of moving on, and getting to a point of not remembering the sound of a phone being put back down, hard, with emphasis, and knowing that is the very last interaction between two people.
I know how to use this language. I know how to use a dictionary. I know what the concept means. This isn’t the first time I’ve trotted down this road and I have done so with those who have lost so much more than I can possibly conceive. But like an orgasm this is something that no one can explain to you how it feels. Unless you’ve had one you couldn’t possibly know. And if you have you know that none are exactly the same, unless you’ve been married for far too long.
Ninety –one people died of gunshot wounds in a three day period of the 19th to the 21st of January, 2013. In some way, nearly thirty people like me are being created by bullets every single day in America. We are left with the idea of helplessness and hopelessness when we start thinking not about closure but about how to keep this from happening to someone else. The idea that for once in my life I am a member of a club that might one day engulf the majority of people in this country is not comforting. But we are becoming a much larger minority with each passing day and with each fresh murder.
The first week after the funeral service, the first month after the murder and the first six months of dealing with a reality where someone was not just dead but taken away with malice aforethought was no different than dealing with it right now. Her children are gone from my life forever. Our mutual friends are scattered like poems written on paper and tossed into the wind. The world in which she and I lived has long since passed from my life. But all I have left in a photograph and the sound of a phone being hung up.
Oh, and this feeling here, which I am pretty sure isn’t “closure”