Fourteen Days to Live
Some of you might have seen the film clip I posted last week–of Sissy Farenthold talking about the pending execution of her friend David Powell. Well, you might also want to check this out:
It’s a heart-rending clip of David Powell’s mother, Marjorie Powell, talking about her son’s life.
David’s execution date is set for June 15th, 2010. That’s two weeks from today. So, unless the clemency board decides otherwise, David has fourteen days left on this earth.
You know, we’re all Texans here, folks. The death penalty is something we all live with, and like anything you live with, you become more or less accustomed to it. But if you allow your mind to reboot for a moment, stop and consider the strangeness of knowing that a man will (most likely) be killed, in Huntsville, by the state of
Texas, two weeks from today. I mean, how weird is that? To know when and how a person named David Powell will be killed.
One of the luckiest, most unbelievable things that’s ever happened to me is that I’ve gotten to be pals with Sissy Farenthold. And since Sissy is my own, personal Mick Jagger, I can never quite get over the fact that I can just call her up, and shoot the breeze. Or spend the day with her at the Last Call sale at Neiman’s.
All of which sounds name-droppy, but that’s honestly not how I mean it. All I mean is that Sissy, a good friend of mine, has been good friends with David for over twenty years. For as long as I’ve known her, she’s been talking about “my friend, David.” Over lunch, or in the car, she’s told me, “I went to see David the other day, and he said ‘blah blah blah.'” Or, “David recommended such-and-such article to me the last time I visited him, and I really enjoyed it.”
And I just cannot convey to you the profound strangeness of knowing that my friend’s friend is, most likely, going to be killed two weeks from today. In a particular room, in a particular fashion, and totally against his will.
I mean, it seems to me that one of the most basic experiences in life is coping with the imminent vagary of mortality. We wake up in the morning with the foggy, distant awareness that we don’t know what the future holds. Remember that old song, “Enjoy Yourself, It’s Later Than You Think?” Well, we all live with the wisdom of that tucked deeply inside of us. Because, who knows? Your best friend could get hit by a bus. Your husband could drop dead of a heart attack. A plane could crash; a bridge could collapse. These are the absolutely horrible, absolutely true thoughts we’re all forced to live with (and suppress) every day. It’s part of being human.
And that’s one of the weirdest, most inhuman aspects of the death penalty–that Sissy, and Marjorie Powell, and David himself, know when he’s going to die.
And how strange is that?
How strange is it that it’s actually precisely as late as David thinks it is?
Imagine what that would be like. Imagine what it would be like (weird, weird torture) to wake up every day knowing that you’re one day closer to your death. Or your friend’s death. Or your son’s.
And not in some far-off, Jean-Paul Sartre sense. I mean, like, THE CLOCK IS TICKING.
Fourteen days left to live.
Feel free to write, and tell me what you think, folks. And check out the website devoted to David’s case: www.letdavidlive.org