How we spent our 16th Wedding Anniversary
21st April 2006
Today Pëë and I celebrate our 16th wedding Anniversary. We were hoping it to be a "sweet 16" Anniversary; instead this morning we are preparing our minds and emotions for the Coroner's Inquest into our son's "disappearance". A few days ago we were told by someone (a police friend) that these sessions could be nerve-racking ordeals.
The instance (some weeks ago) we got the subpoenas, we had made a written request pleading with the office of the clerk of courts for the date to be moved to an earlier or later one (on compassionate grounds) as we realized it fell on the date of our wedding anniversary, and we felt that from today on, this day would not be remembered with the joy it should be: the joy of a wonderful Saturday afternoon where everything was wonderful. It is also the day when our son gave us a wonderful anniversary present...his baptism three years ago. We never had a response to our letter.
Warren's absence is forever here with us, he is a child that could not be gone and not be missed. He was at home more often than not. At twelve he would still climb with his big self onto mommy's lap or in the cold of the morning would turn up in our room to warm himself between us. He never cooked (yes he cooked at 12) or made his snacks only for himself.
The week he went missing, I vividly remember him chopping onions and sweet pepper to make his famous tuna sandwich, which also would have mayonnaise, black pepper and a little crushed pimento added. He came in the living room and asked "daddy you want tuna?". He and I traveled in excess of 40 miles daily, giving us the chance to really bond as son and dad. He had a mind of his own which I admired and though we had our small differences we shared a wonderful relationship.
Since his "disappearance" we have been forced to find peace in the midst of our storms.... To see beauty, not only in the good situations that life deals us, but in the bad ones as well.
Our storm today is a heightened sense of his absence (brought on by our court appearance). Anniversary out of our minds!
This morning we made no preparation for celebrations; instead our full focus was to be prepared for standing in court to discuss the most tragic of events in our lives.
We left home feeling that someone or persons had no sympathy for us and were apathetic to the degree that they disregarded our letter, which was an earnest plea to consider our feelings.
Court begins at 10 a.m. we are however very early; 9:15 finds us waiting on the steps of the court looking at the back of the statue of national hero Paul Bogle.
10 am we are ushered in to take our seats.
Anyhow, before the days proceedings commenced, the Clerk of the court (to whom our letter was addressed) could be heard discussing it's receipt with some other party. It appears that some sort of concession was to be made on our behalf.
The judge came, a most beautiful woman, her voice (in most instances) was almost a whisper. She also had this humorous conclusion "All Rightie then!" to most of her statements. This reminded me a great deal of the quip of one of Warren's favorite actor/character: Jim Carrey - in Ace Ventura Pet Detective "
A sample scenario would be:
JUDGE: "We are setting a new date for May 19th as we have only police witnesses, do you understand?
PEOPLE: Yes your honor!
JUDGE: "I would like to have civilian witnesses as well, so we are giving some time for the civilian witnesses to be subpoenaed, is that date okay with you. May 19th?"
PEOPLE "Yes your honor!"
JUDGE: "All rightie then!"
Apart from Her Honor's interjection of humor, the day was not without humor from other participants:
- There was a policeman who took almost an hour (hyperbole) to read one of those "O Yeah O Yeah God save the Queen. pronouncements.
He rambled/mumbled on and on.
Her honor made several attempts to assist the poor policeman in concluding the pronouncement, but he still had a hard time doing so. While this in itself was pitiful in my eyes, several persons in the court room could be heard snickering and making comical statements, some saying, they did not know that they allowed persons in the police force who could not read. Their cup was half empty.
My cup being half full, I concluded that probably the police had gotten an illegible document... I was almost certainly being kind to the policeman. You be the judge!
- There was also another policeman (a member of a party to answer to a matter) who was without his tie. When questioned about its absence from his dress, he responded to Her honor that it had gotten soiled while he was having breakfast. The judge laughingly told him next time he should wear the soiled tie instead of coming without one. I found this quite funny, as she did not tell him to find another tie but that he should have worn the soiled one. "All rightie then"
- Her honor would call for witnesses and in almost all instances the police would in repeating, distort the names, sometimes the distortion was so ridiculous I wondered if they did it for fun or boredom control
- I also found the bowing of persons leaving and returning the court quite humorous.
Some cases have been stood down to be resumed later today.
In others, the witness have been bound over to return at later dates to facilitate:
- the subpoenaing of witnesses as well as
- required things that were missing, gathered.
It is now our time and we all go forward as our names are called. My wife is not called though subpoenaed.
There was an exchange between the Clerk and her honor, in which he explains that the date is not convenient for some parties (us) and also that the investigating officer was not present and asked that a new date be set.
We can see the clerk leafing through a file which includes pages of notes, a photo of our son (that was given to the police at the time of his mysterious disappearance) among other things. He also offers minor details of the fateful day October 2, 2004 to her honor.
Her honor asks if May 19th would be ok for us.
PEOPLE: Yes your honour!
JUDGE: All Rightie Then!
11:30 we are on our way out of the courtroom.
We truly appreciate the fact that the court had the proceedings set for a month later, but our day could have been ruined, and I say could have been, as we were able to find some humor in the days proceedings plus (though a tad late) the attempt to take our feelings into consideration was redemptive and assuaged our feelings of unhappiness to some extent.
We drove from Morant Bay to Yallahs, along the way we discussed the time in court. We seemed to have forgotten our anniversary.
Now for the celebrations:
In Yallahs we stopped and bought 4 chicken patties and headed for home. It was now about midday. All this while, celebrations were still out of our minds.
Suddenly a light went on in my head and I kind of "said/asked" wifey: "why don't we just drive to Ocho Rios. She agreed.
We headed for Ocho Rios, for the moment forgetting the morning's activities and just focusing on the past 16 years.
We were unaware that fun and games were awaiting us on Mount Rosser.
We approached the foot of "the Mount" and after an approximately three minutes drive uphill, came upon a long line of stationery vehicles.
After five minutes we moved about 4 car spaces. We continued this trend for approximately 1 and 1/4 hours before we exited Mount Rosser.
The guilty culprits were two broken down trucks on the hill. This coupled with several extra long trailers created the traffic snarl.
It was approximately 3:45 when we exited Mount Rosser and it took another hour for us to arrive in Ocho Rios. This extra hour resulted from the number of vehicles ahead that were part of the delayed Mount Rosser convoy.
In Ocho Rios we went to a small restaurant to have a quiet meal. We had the choice of eating on the inside or outside. We opted on eating outside, joining a family of three adults and four kids. They (not softly) discussed many things about packing barrels and how many times the male adult of the group cooked while his female partner was at work. Deducing from the discussion, it seemed as if he did his fair share. He was also very attentive to the kids cleanliness as he was the one armed with napkins cleaning grubby little fingers and ketchup-soiled faces. The kids would occasionally flash us heartwarming smiles, otherwise they would make a racket, but it was a welcome din. You never know how welcome these things are until they are missing.
Their meals completed they excused themselves. One female adult told us goodbye also expressing apologetically how happy we must have been to see their backs, we told her on the contrary that we had enjoyed their company. We wished we had our son creating a racket.
It was getting a bit late for our journey back home and we had not cooked any dog food for our two gravid mongrels, I looked around and as there were only the eyes of the security guard, I lifted the top from the garbage container and made two wonderful packages of anniversary dinner for our canine friends.
My wife laughed all through this ordeal thinking how funny it would be to hear stories of friends seeing me rummaging through garbage containers in Ocho Rios. I had a good laugh as well.
In heading back home, the beginning of the journey was fast and furious, as the little Glanza was been pushed to its limit. This was however short lived as the situation on the Mount was not resolved and we found ourselves again in the long line.
Even though there were policemen directing the traffic, this encounter added an additional 1/2 hour to our previous ordeal so our new wait time was 1 and 3/4 hours. We sat and amid discussing our life together, listened an evening talk show "Beyond the Headlines ". The hosts had a guest, a writer whose name we did not ascertain at first, I however gathered that she was born in Port Maria, in the parish of St. Mary where I was born. This peaked my interest and as we continued listening (to among other things) the writer recounting how she had lost both her mom and Grandpa on the same day. It then hit me, I did not only know the victims but knew this lady as well, she was Judy Powell and her mom taught me in primary school. Judy is now an accomplished writer living in Canada with several popular books to her credit. I felt proud as I listened her story and her achievements. If it were not for Mount Rosser's delay I would have been home watching The Hallmark or the History channel. It would have been a serious loss.
After the 1+3/4 hr stop and go driving we finally exited Mount Rosser. We arrived home a little after 9 pm. We had spent in excess of 12 hours away from home.
We gave our doggies their anniversary dinners. For them it was a welcome change from their usual cornmeal and meat scraps. We showered, gave God thanks and turned in.
We know that legal issues have to be addressed but we wonder what will be achieved by an inquest. Our son is gone, we never recovered his body and as christians we look at the good side as we have the hope we will see him again and though his loss has been the worst thing to have happened in our sixteen years together, life has been for the greater part - BEAUTIFUL. We have learnt to count our blessings. Yes there is beauty both in the storm and the calm as well.
Keep looking at your cup as half full, not half empty. Live and love well, while it is possible. Share all you can now, so when the inevitable comes you won't have to deal with the remorse of shortchanging your loved ones while they lived or of living with the regret of not doing and saying the things you should have.
Thank God this does not haunt us.
How we spent the day?
The humor of the morning, the delays in Mount Rosser (which gave us a lot of time to discuss our 16 wonderful years), listening to the din of the family at the restaurant, hearing Judy (who had both her mom and grand parent slaughtered and not responding with bitterness) and seeing two extra happy dogs, helped us to further count our blessings.
Yes! Despite the odds, we did not have the sweetest 16th Anniversary but we indeed had a great day.