Memento Mori

Here we go again, eh? I gotta admit that I wasn’t exactly happy about being bench warranted back to Beeville last week for the hearing. Sure, I loved seeing the free world and getting some fresh air, so to speak, but it really is a hassle being shackled and chained in a cramped space for 15 hours, listening to idiot rednecks go on about their views on politics and who’s gonna dethrone Jimmie Johnson in NASCAR this year. And did I mention that every time I’ve ever left the unit I invariably return with property missing and I have to wait for hours in an empty cell without a mattress and necessities? Thankfully, neither of those happened this time (thanks to Lt. Delap here on the row, who’s word is good with me ;-) ), but it’s still an exhausting trip. Nevertheless, I enjoyed parts of it and want to share some of it…

We left the unit at 6am this time since the hearing was for 1pm. It was still dark outside and as soon as we got away from the unit’s lights the sky lit up with millions of stars! I managed to lay back on the metal bench and look up into the sky for about an hour before we got to Houston and the lights of the city blacked the sky out .Isn’t it just astounding that some of the stars we see have burned out thousands and millions of years ago?! Yet the light from them is still visible to us and has been for hundreds and thousands of years. The unfathomable enormity of the universe is just awesome to me. Even more impressive and astonishing is how much space there is between matter. I read that if we could somehow manage to squeeze all the physical particles in the known universe tightly together and eliminate the vast space between them inside every atom it’d still be only about the size of a beach ball! Crazy, huh? It’s because the “shell” of an atom if blown up to the size of the largest dome in the world still would have particles within it only was a big as grains of sand! All that space… So yeah, the mysteries of the universe, macro- and microcosmic, are infinitely more exciting to ponder while watching the stars as opposed to staring at the concrete walls of a death row cell.

Again I enjoyed seeing Houston and the scenery between it and Beeville. I made the trip so many times as a kid with my family so I know it so well. It’s a trip seeing some of those old landmarks still there, reminiscing about times from my youth, wondering if I’ll one day be able to look back on these trips as well…

We got to Beeville around 10:30am and gassed up at the Chase Field prison complex where Garza East and Garza West are. Then we just waited in the parking lot of the courthouse until the 1pm hearing. I mostly watched the vehicles coming and going and the pedestrians walking around, but at some point I found myself watching the tree limbs sway and the birds playing above us. Some think birds are actually higher up on the evolutionary ladder than we humans, that they’re luminous beings with greater awareness of their inner light than us. There’s certainly something sublime about them to me, and I sure wouldn’t mind reincarnating as one.

Once again the courtroom was mostly filled with people who want me to die, like last year. The hateful stares and negative energy they exude didn’t affect me though. If anything I tried to soak it up and return positive emanations to them; the hope is that such people will grow out of their ignorance someday… My attorneys, David Dow and Jeff Newberry, on the other hand, truly inspired me.

It was actually the first time I met Mr. Dow and I totally understand what the hype’s about! He has commanding presence in the courtroom and it was a privilege to watch him and Mr. Newberry fight for my life. They are true warriors in the fight against the death penalty and I’m beyond grateful to have them helping me. Unfortunately, the judge was intent on setting me a date for execution, in spite of how thoughtful he seemed as the lawyers argued before him. It became obvious to me as the hearing progressed that he was mostly thinking about how to justify the execution date. I hear he’s running for a seat on the Texas Court of Criminal appeals, so I think maybe he wanted to set the date so bad to add to his résumé. You know, if you want to be a judge on that court you might wanna notch a few executions under your belt first. It’s the Texas way, eh?!

On the ride back I noticed the old cemeteries again, the circling buzzards, the near desolate landscape and a white cross with flowers around it in the median where a crash killed at least one person. In my head I kept hearing that Blue Oyster Cult song, “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” and I couldn’t help but wonder when my time here will be done? I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be aware of the fact that you will die. Memento mori, know that you must die. That was the attitude in the Baroque period, and it kept them in the moment and totally enhanced their every experience. Some of the art from that period’s just amazing…

I’m definitely aware of my mortality, and those who know me know that I try to stay in the moment and discover meaning to all I experience, but I also find myself wondering at times if I’ll survive this and realize some of my dreams in this form? Or have I pretty much learned what I come here for and the time is closing in for me to depart? I guess, at times, the latter doesn’t seem so bad. I mean, fuck, I’ve spent 19 of my 34 years in this place. It’s really not as cool here as I make it sound! ;-) But hey, I’m open to whatever the universe has in store for me… These are just some of the thoughts that danced in my head on the trip down south…

With light and love, Robert