The past few days, I’ve been thinking of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukamaran. It’s hard not to when it’s been on the news as much as it has, and when you’re talking about two young men who are a similar age to you; who’ve grown up just as you have, and yet not how you have at all. I’ve worried, for a long time, that this was the way this story would go, although I’ve hoped it wouldn’t.
To hand down judgement when you can offer mercy seems a ridiculous way to live.
When I read yesterday, that their crosses had already been engraved… well horrified would be the emotion that comes closest, though it’s hard to put it into words.
When I gave birth to Ava, I had a long horrid labour that they thought would be short and quick. After visiting the hospital at 11pm on Wednesday, she was born at almost 11pm Thursday. When I presented at the ante-natal clinic Thursday afternoon for a pre-booked appointment, they couldn’t find my file, because it was on the birthing floor, complete with two little ankle bands. They were so certain she would be born Thursday morning, that Ava had already been assigned a hospital number and everything was written except for the details only birth can bring.
It was surreal; almost like a birth note before a birth.
There’s something equally surreal, but tragically so, about a tombstone before a death.
What an insult.
What a mercilessly callous statement.
But this post is not about the death penalty; I have no mental space for anger at an immovable and allegedly incorrupt legal system. I have compassion for two men who are facing their last hours.
How do you process that? What do you do? What do you think about when the end is close and known?
I’ve had a week where I’ve been angry at myself and my kids; I’ve been short-tempered and then guilty. Irritated and then repentant. So many emotions, but mostly… there’s been frustration. Parenting is hard and exhausting and it often feels like you’re not getting anything right. Like it’s all just one big glop of mess that no one can redeem.
My sister – and I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing this- put a picture on FB of a gluten-free pancake fail, which, let’s face it, is not cool. When you’re looking forward to pancakes and you don’t get them, it’s a disappointment. I commiserated with her, as sisters do, but then she said something that struck home. Failed pancakes were not really a problem when there was an earthquake in Nepal and two men on death row in Bali.
People, sadly, die; sometimes suddenly – sometimes slowly, painfully, and in the public eye with everyone having an opinion on whether they deserve the right to another day – and too often not only do I complain about the little things, but I spend a lot of time beating myself up for not being who I think I should. I hand down judgement on myself, and never think to extend mercy.
But if it was my last day; my last hours, what would I do?
Would I remember these days? The busy, constant, endless days. The days where the dishes pile up and the folding grows tall. Would I remember how much I was over it all?
Would I remember the exhausting days? When no thing I do seems quite enough? When my children look at me with that look that makes me wonder where I went wrong.
Would I remember the guilt? All the times I felt not enough. All the hopeless and useless self-criticism that served to do nothing but belittle my extraordinariness. At the end will I agree with my critical self, or find the grace to forgive the fallibility of humanness?
Or maybe I would have the clarity to see that hard days and frustrating days, and irritation with yourself for not being who you think you should, is just like a pancake fail; pointless and inconsequential. That what matters more is not all the times you failed, but the times you tried to make it better.
Like two men in Bali who’ve tried to make things right.
Failed pancakes and mercy; everyone deserves a second chance.