It was a bit of a hellish trip there. The airline was late on both portions of our flight. We started traveling around 1 PM, CST and were in our rental car by 8:30 PM, PST. With a 2 hour drive ahead of us. Ugh.
We stayed at a Casino that was about 45 minutes outside of Joshua Tree (good thing too, there is not much in Joshua Tree, much less anything comfortable enough for my somewhat fragile MIL...you know, whole neck and back fusions and all).
The Casino was comfortable, though I was a bit appalled when they had a game room for children. Mere feet away from the gambling floor. Start 'em young I guess. I'm pretty sure children are not allowed anywhere near the gambling floor here, but I don't frequent Casino's enough to be certain.
It was nice to wake up and be outside without a jacket and be comfortable. The air was chilly in the morning, but the equivalent of a late spring morning here. The courthouse was woefully small. I think the city of New Berlin has a bigger courthouse.
We met immediately with the Victim Advocate. Eventually we met with the District Attorney who went over everything. And it turns out that he was not serving 3 months in jail like we were lead to believe. No, he's going to serve 6 months of house arrest with a SCRAM bracelet.
Yeah. So, he was drunk and killed someone and is getting 6 months of house arrest. 3 years of probation. He has lost his driver's license and will never be able to drive anywhere again. That would be a blow to me, so I that's appropriate in my mind.
But no jail time.
It was a bit of a blow there in the little room we were sitting in. And at the same time, acceptance. Because really, what are we going to do? Scream at the judge how unfair it is? Hardly.
Instead, we walked into court and saw his killer.
And he was alone. No family supporting him. No friends. Simply his attorney.
He stood before the Judge and said he understood what he was pleading guilty to. He stood at military attention as the Victim Advocate read my Father-in-Law's statement.
He stood alone as I read Gumby's very angry statement, as I tried very hard to not sob too much.
As I read my own statement.
And as I read something from a dear friend of Patrick's. It was well written and more positive than anything else I could have written before that moment. They are words that I knew going into this that I had to accept as what I needed to do.
I struggled through it all, turned to see most of the courtroom crying (ha! See, I can do dramatic! I'm no one-trick comedic pony!)
When it was done, we were asked if we wanted a personal apology, "Fuck no" was my immediate response (ok, I'm not always the most gracious creature). But my Mother-in-law said yes. Damn it.
We were taken back to the small office as we went over everything and then the Victim Advocate noticed his attorney left before he apologized. She went and checked and it was decided he much not be "able to do it". So that was that. He's not allowed to speak to us.
Well, that's a little anti-climatic.
So, you know. I don't like open ends. I excused myself to go to the bathroom. And when I came out, there he sat. Completely alone. Even his attorney left him. You see where this is going, right?
Again, not one to let sleeping dog lie, I walk up to him. He sees my shoes (because he stared at the floor the entire time) and looks up at me.
"You need to do right by him for me."
"I'm sorry, ma'am?" (good Christ, do I look like a ma'am?!?)
"You need to do right by him for me."
"Yes ma'am, I will."
I turned to leave and he said, "I really am sorry."
I somewhat snorted, looked back at him and said, "Yeah, I'm sorry too."
Because I'm sorry for vilifying him for the past year. I'm sorry for all the bad thoughts.
Because Uncle Kage is right. He is a young man that made a seriously horrible mistake. That we have paid dearly for. That Patrick paid dearly for.
But this young man has lost his future.
I hope that he will be able to move past this. To never forget, but to learn from it and have a meaningful life. To not let that mistake be his defining moment.
And so the hatred turns to compassion.
Which is good. Hatred and anger are not good for my constitution. It's never really been something I'm good at.
And I miss Patrick so much. And I just don't understand why Jason's family was not with him. We would give anything to have Patrick back, to hold him, to support him. And I hope them not being there was for a good reason (though, there are few that come to mind). I hope they have not turned their backs on him. Because he needs them now, more than ever.
I'm such a freakin' Mom. Ugh.
So it was a hard day. And I took the Mother-in-law to do the one thing that always makes her smile, YARN SHOPPING!!!! Oy.
We stayed at a very nice Hilton in San Diego. The next day we were going to go to Downtown Disney, but holy cats did it rain. We didn't get very far and there were minor mudslides (ah, you know, trees slid down onto the freeway). We turned around and went shopping at Horton's Place in downtown San Diego. Which was weird because Lynne immediately realized she had been there with Patrick when he was stationed there. and then I looked at the bank in front and realized I had been there when Patrick was stationed there. Very trippy.
The next day we went to Disneyland. It was time for some fun, to try and relieve the stress and sadness that the trip held to that point.
Disneyland was cool. It's very bizarre, because it's set up very similar to DisneyWorld, but some is different, so I would get confused when trying to navigate. It was crazy busy, but thanks to my MIL being gimpy, we got priority on most of the rides. Yeah to disability! (kidding!)
I will say, I think Pirates of the Caribbean is cooler in DL than in DW. And I almost think the Haunted Mansion is better there too. I have a slight tan, which is cool. Got a very cool "Jack" hoodie from "The Nightmare before Christmas". I had wanted it desperately in DW, but could never find a 2x. For whatever stupid reason, both my MIL and I left our jackets in the rental car and it did get cold that night so we were "forced" to buy something warm. I still never found the "Jack" hoodie in bigger than an xl, but sucked it up. It fits, I just don't have as much room as I normally like in a sweatshirt. Hopefully it won't shrink ;)
We came home yesterday. It wasn't so bad coming home, though we didn't have time to eat lunch in Denver as our plane was late arriving, so our layover was pretty much gone. Luckily we had snacks in our carry-on, so we survived on Cheeto's until we got back.
Final note...holy crap the airport in Milwaukee is getting busy. It was like Chicago busy last night. It's good for the economy, but annoying as shit when all you want to do is get out of the freakin' airport.