Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Two for one

I've spent the past few days trying to get caught up on some commitments and promises I've neglected in my "real life." Yesterday, a colleague chided me, "Well, you certainly can no longer fall back on your "Duke Case Excuse"... that's been over since December!"

No, not really.

Unfortunately, the beat of Injustice in North Carolina goes on and on. It's almost background noise in our lives now. We wonder, "Will it ever end?"

But, in my world, far from Duke and Durham, I have heard comments like this often lately. "I thought that was over?" or "What ever happened to those kids?" or "Didn't that end months ago?"

How easily we all forget and lose interest.

The media understands this. Natalie Holloway's Mom has finally been abandoned in Birmingham, every bit of interest sucked out of her terrible saga. Chandra Levy just no longer sells, and the Jon Benet debacle wrapped up with a whopper of an "arrest" that flopped on all accounts. Night after night, we saw their faces and heard their names. We met the families. We ate popcorn in the presence of their anguish, and folded laundry as they fell apart. Then exploitation eventually begat exhaustion, and the media and our interest moved on. Now we are in the throes of the Anna Nicole morality play. Will the real Daddy please step forward! Was Danny murdered? Is Howard the "heavy"? No need to stay tuned ... it's on every channel and has it all - sex, drugs, a tropical locale, and an opportunistic judge "shopping" a show of his own! Ratings are soaring!

That's the new American dream - True Crime as Carnival Show. Someone's tragic loss is another's lauchpad to stardom.

But, I think of the emotional flotsam and jetsam of these spectacles: the Moms who finally went home without their daughters or sons. The ones whose lives were never the same. The families left with just old family photos and dance-school ribbons and memories of their lost child. When the media tires of them, these no longer entertaining tragic figures are turned away. Their living WITHOUT begins. But for us, we're ready for the next chapter.
"I'm tired of this same tragedy night after night!" we say."Get them off the stage! Bring us some fresh meat!"
So, away from Duke and Durham, many think the Duke Frame is over. They believe that the families have returned to the comfort of life without crisis, of simple days again, secure without threat or pain or paralyzing fear. But the families know better. Reade and Collin and Dave know better. Sadly, we do too.

It's Easter again, but the boys and their families have not yet escaped from the agony that a woman's fantastic lies and a D.A.'s corruption have caused. It's Easter again, but the state of North Carolina has not yet risen to the task of resolving this infamy. We are asked to be patient ... to understand the political ramifications for those in power who must remedy this mess. We are asked to understand the subtleties of appearances, and protocols, and election blocs, and strategies, and special interest groups, and the high and holy principle of "political correctness." We are told to be patient and understand it all takes time.

It's April 4, 2007.

This Frame began on March 13, 2006.

The Special Prosecutors took it on January 13, 2007, after Nifong was safely and privately sworn in.

The mathematicians out there can figure out the days, the hours, the minutes, but the stress and the grief are incalculable.

My thoughts are elsewhere. I'm thinking about the families,the boys, the Moms.

How does one keep dealing with this? How do you cope with something so terribly unfair? An accusation without evidence. Indictments without investigation. Easter again with no relief. I'm just about breathless with indignation myself! Is this all a political show to placate the "Something Happened" crowd? Is it a face-saving strategy for folks who were suckered by Nifong? Is there a justifiable purpose here or just flat out posturing? Is this long wait just politics in North Carolina?

I think of a year's worth of days in the individual lifetimes of these families. Days that can never be returned to them. Days made unnatural by anxiety and dread. Is there a real reason to keep adding to the toll of precious days? How many days will Crystal be allowed to take from them, will the State be allowed to confiscate and fill with fear?

So how do you cope?

Well, I received one answer this week. One that again impressed me with the strength, dignity, and emotional resourcefulness of these Lacrosse families.

I received a short note from the Mom of one of the unindicted players. She shared no specifics about the case; she only expressed gratitude to all the strangers, now friends, who have tried to help.
"You give us all hope. We are amazed how many took up the fight for no other reason than they are just good and decent people."
She went on to explain how she is trying to cope...unbelievably, now one full year later ... with the emotional burdens of the Fantastic Lies.
"I am trying to get past the negative. When my sons were younger, we always ate dinner together. My husband would always ask the boys to tell him one negative thing about the day and two positives. It was important that the positives outweigh the negatives of everyone's day. I have tried to go back over the last year and think of two positives that came out of one negative from the darkest days of last year. I call this "two for one."

"Over the past few days I have started to jot down "two for ones." This helps me get over the anger and bitterness. Hopefully, there will be few negative days left and only positives. Mary Ellen, Kathy and Rae need peace in their lives."
Yes, Mary Ellen and Kathy and Rae need peace in their lives, and so do Collin. Reade and Dave ... and all the team families. The Hoax needs to end. The Frame needs to die. They need their days returned to them. So as we face this annual season of renewal and reflection, please pray that the politicians will be moved to do what is right and make it ALL end soon.
Joan Foster


Anonymous said...

Joan, you're the greatest. I've thoroughly enjoyed your essays and poetry all the way through this awful ordeal, and am sure I will continue to do so. As Easter approaches, your points in today's posting are especially poignant. I have just one reminder for you, though. Don't think for a minute that the Dads are any less anguished, that their pain is any less, than those brave and fine mothers. I am devoted to my beloved wife and three grown children, and have felt deep empathy for these families from the beginning. I believe I can relate in some small way to the pain the Dads have gone through. Messrs. Seligmann, Finnerty and Evans may not be as appealing as their wonderful wives, but believe me they have suffered just as much and equally deserve our empathy and support. That said, thanks again for all the wonderful work you've done, and keep it up! A Happy Easter to you and your family.--Bob Hyde, Duke '67

don t. said...

Eloquent. Simply eloquent. And touching. I am 70+ years old and I find a tear running down my cheek as I read your words and think of the day-to-day lives of all the players and their families..the pain and anguish they must experience each and every day. And I agree with Bob Hyde about the dads. It would be dificult for me to explain and express the pain they must be feeling.

You are truly talented ... thanks for putting into words what many of us feel.


joan foster said...

Bob, you are so right. I will never forget that image of Phil Seligmann slipping to his knees when he heard his boy had been falsely accused.

These are wonderful Dads, Moms and families. I hope, going forward, that there lives are filled with nothing but love, joy and true friendship.

It would be the only fitting compensation.

A Blessed Easter to Don't and Bob and all the hooligans!

Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

Joan, you've given the best Easter gift yet to the families of the Duke players - the knowledge that strangers are aware of their suffering, care deeply about them and that they are not alone. Thank you.

May the blessings be upon you for imparting the true message of Easter - the resurrection of hope and the belief that goodness will prevail.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful writing Joan. This interminable reinvestigation of the non-investigation hoax were be bearable if the North Carolina adults had 1% of the courage that the 3 boys have shown over the past year. If the reinvestigators did have the moral fiber of the boys - the coming announcement would clearly state that this was a hoax and the only crimes committed were committed by CGM, Nifong and Durham PD. An announcement like that would be worth the wait. Alas though I am sure that these craven politicos will only announce that the charges are being dismissed because they could not "find" evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If only we could fill the goverment with people who have the same basic sense of right and wrong that the average citizen has - travesties like this would not happen.

bill anderson said...


I think not only of the families of the three young men, but all of the families of people who are wrongfully incarcerated or are experiencing their own private hells because someone given the police powers of the state has decided not to do right.

All of this was unavoidable. Does anyone thing that Mike Nifong would have been worse off had openly said what he surely recognized: the charges were false? Yes, he might have lost the election, but any larger pension he might have secured by winning will be eaten to shreds by the legal travails now is facing -- and will be facing.

These things happened to him because he and others made a conscious decision to do what was wrong. Perhaps the LAX families can take comfort in the fact that they did not stoop to the lower levels of humanity as did Nifong and others. In the end, they can hold up their heads and say they did the right thing.

Nifong, on the other hand, hides in his office and turns up bluegrass music. How fitting! How fitting!

Anonymous said...

The acts of Nifong and the State of NC are ones of pure terrorism. The NC attorney generals office is holding off for show, purely political. No matter what they will never be able to appease the blood thirsty who don't care about truth, evidence and justice, they want to prove themselves right...because anything else would make them almost inhuman. To destroy innocent lives and cause untold pain to innocent families and then to find out you were wrong is too much for these weak, selfcentered, immoral people to bare. They would rather continue the harm, and pain on the innocent lest it be turned on them. Duke 88, Brodhead, the Nifonging News, Judge Stephens & Titus, Governor Easely, and now the NC AG all are in this group. No charachter, no strength, no integrity. Each and every one of them should until the day they leave this earth remember the pain they cause these families, their siblings and extended families and friends. Remember the role they played in causing pain and harm to so many. The role they played in destroying a country's trust in its judicial system, higher education and media. When these people lay their heads on their pillows each night I hope the broken hearts of these families, the incredible stress they have endured haunts your dreams. What goes around comes around eventually.

Mad Hatter said...

What a beautiful post. I too have tears nudging at my eyelids. Thank you for those poignant words.

No one who cares about truth, the human condition, and justice, can forget the suffering of families like the Holloways, Ramses, Seligmanns, Evans, Finnertys, .... Tragedy, man-made or accidental, can strike anyone at anytime.

Serious blogspots like Liestoppers,
Durham in Wonderland, John in Carolina , William Anderson, and the many others out there can combat the vapidness and short-lived attention span of the MSM by continuing the fight to promote the truth and, by your very existence, show how truly agenda driven the MSM is.

madder than a hornet said...

Dear Joan,

Yes! all the lax players and their families are encouraged by the thousands who have demonstrated countless acts of compassion and support to the indicted players and families.

Thank you for your thoughtful writing as the days are dragging by as we wait for long overdue news.

Anonymous said...

We are not going to lose interest. We hope everything will end tomorrow, but if not we will still be here the next day, and the next, and however many more it takes.