Lost for Words
Husband’s sister was murdered last week by her son. He hasn’t been tried yet, but it’s pretty obvious it was him. He’s been charged. I did not know Sister-in-Law very well. I’ve probably spent time with her no more than 20 times in my life – but still! The first time I ever met her was at Christmas more than 20 years ago. She seemed like a very nice, pretty young woman. And she remained through everything on the occasions that I met her very nice. That’s what the neighbours said when the papers interviewed them – we didn’t know her, but she seemed nice.
Anyway, she went and got pregnant and decided to have the baby – the boy who 19 years later murdered her. She had the baby, the father pissed off, and her life from then onwards was ruined. We were living in London at the time and I remember asking Husband if we shouldn’t try to get her to let us look after the baby because she seemed so ill-equipped to do it. I still have pictures of Nephew in his baby bath, pulling books out of our bookshelves. He was a sweet blond lovely baby. But we didn’t do anything.
She drifted on. She moved back to the hometown. She kept on having mental breakdowns and being sectioned. She was on medication for all these episodes. She had a brief marriage to this alcoholic guy, from which she had another son, who is now in foster care. Then she managed to get rid of the husband, and had an even briefer liaison with a schizophrenic she met in hospital, which resulted in yet another son, who was taken from her at birth. The last time I saw her oldest boy, he was 12 years old and seemed like a perfectly nice normal young lad, in spite of everything.
We would hear snippets from Husband’s parents about the Nephew – he was in trouble with the police for typical teenage stuff, he’d gone to live with his dad, he was back, he didn’t like his dad’s discipline, he preferred to be with his mother, he was going to catering college, he was doing drugs, but nothing heavy. Obviously he wasn’t doing well, but nothing too dramatic.
Then last week Mother-in-Law tries to call her daughter but gets no reply. For some reason, she gets worried and calls the police. The police go round the next morning and break into the flat and find her dead.
Every time we hear, the story gets worse. First we just knew that she was dead – and we thought, oh, it was an asthma attack or a heart attack – because she had asthma and she was not healthy and very overweight. Then that the police were treating it as suspicious – OK, that’s normal, for any person to die relatively young, alone, would be treated as suspicious. Then that she had definitely been killed and that the police were looking for her son, who lived in his own flat. So we were horrified and imagined an act of random rage. Then it turned out that she’d been stabbed several times in the neck. Still horrible but no real change in the diagnosis. Then – per the police – that he had tried to cut her head off. That changes it from horrible to psychopathic.
Why would he do that? What was he thinking? What happened to him? Granted he had a pretty crap childhood, but lots of people have equally crap childhoods or worse and don’t murder their mothers or try to decapitate them. How did he change from that sweet blond baby or that perfectly nice boy to a psychopathic thug? I can only hope he was out of his head on drugs at the time. It is a terrible thing when you are hoping that someone was out of their head on drugs because their actions have been such that to think that they were compos mentis when they acted would mean things about them too terrible to contemplate. The police are charging him with murder, not diminished responsibility. Why are they doing that?
What would his life have been like if we’d cared enough to take him from her and bring him up ourselves? Surely he wouldn’t still have grown up to do a thing like this?
I feel like a hundred different kinds of crap. We tried to see her this summer because we hadn’t seen her for 7 years since we left the country, but we see Brother-in-Law and his kids every year when we go back for the holidays. We invited her along but then she said she couldn’t leave home because of the Nephew and we didn’t try to change her mind.
It’s really brought home to me what everybody says when someone dies – you have so many regrets for all the things that you should have said and done but couldn’t be bothered and now there is absolutely nothing you can do. Then I think that there is nothing we can do for her, but that her sons are still alive and maybe we should be doing something for them. But the 2 younger ones have been in foster care for years and maybe it is better to leave them in that stable environment? And as for the older one, although I am sure he is suffering and in hell right now, frankly, I am scared of him. I don’t want it to be me or any of my family who are found on our kitchen floor covered in blood.
Life is terrible, terrible, terrible. It seems so easy when everything is going along on an even keel. And yet it seems so easy for everything to suddenly go terribly wrong. All that is required for happiness is constant attention. And all that is required for unhappiness is constant neglect. For the light to be on. And for the light to be off.