Monday, August 01, 2005

Shades of Gray

No story is black and white. It's the dirty gray between the lines that cannot be easily defined or fitted into neat packages. They are the words left unsaid and unheard. It's the stuff that we filter out and define based on our own education and experiences. It is where tragedy is found and for me, on this day, pity and sorrow.

Two young boys, ages 3 and 2, drowned or were scalded to death on Friday. The circumstances are not clear. It's believed that the father filled the tub for the boys to take a bath, told the mother, ( or maybe not ), who apparently was sleeping, whether he left the house or as the police stated they both fell asleep in a narcotic stupor is still unclear to me. Several hours later, the boys are found by the parents, so they say, in an overflowing tub filled with hot scalding water that flooded out their apartment and caused water damage to two other apartments below them.

The family, like so many families from the inner cities is a amalgam of several different relationships. Her son was from another father and so was the father's from another woman. A dysfunctional family with no close ties to other family members and who had only friends, who are now divided over what happened, to defend the pair to us in the press. One member of the family didn't even know the name of the step-child. It's said that the police have visited the family over the years, because of the mothers' history of seizures and for the father who had a criminal history dealing with possession of drugs. Both it is said have some sort of drug addiction or abuse but no one saying what kind it is. We all have opinions on what happened, some indifferent, some angry, others just puzzled by what has happened. Some just shrug and move on to other topics of conversation more palatable.

Then I think about what I heard from people who actually saw the pair before they made their appearance in court. Both of the parents emotionless. One said that he saw the mother with her head bowed and her hands shaking in front of her. In court one friend said that she had no expression on her face whatsoever, she looked like she was dead to her. On their second appearance in court only one man who identified himself as a cousin spoke for the father. He claims that the father drew the bath and left the children in the care of the mother. She, he felt, was responsible for what happened. A friend of the mother talked bout how loving she was to the children that she never left them alone and that she always had them with her. For all the love whether indifferent or incompetent, two children are dead and we stake the courthouse out and try to piece the information together any way we can.

The funeral has not been set. The parents were denied bail and if what I understand to be true, couldn't even afford it if they had the means to post it. As for the children, no one seems to know how or when they will have their funeral because it's unclear as to how it's going to be paid for. A family member has yet come forward to take on that responsibility.

I look at the faces of the children, think about what little family that they had and how much life they have lost and all I can feel is sorrow.