Sunday, April 22, 2012

Notes on a Senseless Tragedy

Chris Deaver, a local musician, was senselessly murdered while working in a pawn shop in Florence, S.C.
I didn’t know him.  I know his fiancé and have spent some time with his daughter. They are lovely. It is easy to imagine their laughter would have been like music to Chris. Now, though, their hurt and sadness coat them like scales they cannot shed.
I imagine myself and HB in their position and my eyes fill with tears.
Police named robbery the motive for the crime but reported the murderer had considered killing before this particular crime. He is a disturbed individual who does not seem to have even an elementary understanding of right and wrong. He is too young to be a “career” criminal, but last spring he made a choice and he is not a victim.
Every element of this story saddens. This editorial tries to pinpoint the source of this sadness.  Everyone knows about the victims, and so this piece tries to turn the tables. It describes the courtroom and one person’s brief eye contact with the accused. Eye contact and the appearance of a slight smile on a killer’s face.  Just 17 at the time of the crime, just 18 now, he is human after all, the writer says.
The sadness in the editorial is apparent, but the writer doesn’t adequately explain what is so sad. The comments on the editorial are equal parts outraged and the scathing. And they have every right to be.
Reject efforts at empathy
It’s ridiculous, really, to try to humanize someone who has no interest in being human. It’s ridiculous that for his crime the state of S.C. will feed, clothe, and house him for the rest of his life. It’s ridiculous to blame the victims, or to try to empathize with the murderer, or to blame his family or society for “what went wrong.” As if that boy hadn’t made a very clear and very evil choice.
What’s worse, though, is the anger that still resonates in this case. The language of the responses to the editorial bleed with so much hurt and hatred that I am deeply saddened by them.
So much anger towards the murderer. So much anger towards the laws that prevented execution of that murderer. So much anger towards the newspaper for publishing an editorial that has the gall to suggest his is a wasted life.  They’re even angry that the editorial writer didn’t have the courage to use his or her own name so that he or she could be properly taunted in person and via email.
Realize the reach of the hurt
There is so much unresolved anger that it cannot all be about Chris. It just can’t. The decision as to whose efforts are rewarded with a long and happy life and whose efforts are ended by the randomness of unchecked violence is not our own. It was not Chris’s decision to make. It was made for him. And that makes us angry.
It could have been a drunk driver. It could have been a terrorist. It could have been a plane crash or a motorcycle accident or a drowning. There are any number of people and things that can make the decision to end our lives.
In this case, it was a seventeen year old kid incapable of reason or remorse. People in Florence are angry because someone else decided what happened to Chris. This is proof, isn’t it? Proof that despite our best attempts to establish it, there is no such thing as certain safety. Not for anyone.
Find a way to heal
Hearts, including mine, break for Chris Deaver’s family, left behind and suffering the tragic loss of his presence. We all hurt for his little girl. She and her mommy have all Chris had to give in his short time here. My favorite picture of his daughter is one in which she holds his guitar, as if it were his hands. Her small hands strum and she smiles at the camera.
What Chris could have been, his love and spirit, is gone. And in its absence those whose anger cannot be appeased have raised their voices above all others. Fear and frustration shout and wail, deafening the whole community to the possibility of a renewed life.
Quiet down, fear, quiet down, anger, quiet down; you are not helping anyone. Somewhere there is a gentle song of forgiveness, healing.  I imagine it is played by an acoustic guitar.
I didn’t know Chris. But I heard he had music in him. I would love to hear his song.


  1. Kasie, what a terrbile tragedy for your community, and your post clearly conveys the emotional chaos involving those left behind. Hopefully the healing process will help all those affected.

  2. So sad! I hope healing begins for those who are mourning. I love you thoughts on the quiet of healing, the music of forgiveness. I hope that slowly works its way through your community.


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