The civil hearing began on April 19, and we had over 20 witnesses, most of whom testified as to the character of Jessica and Kelli. It was difficult but also strangely uplifting to hear stories and examples of just how kind, compassionate, funny and smart they were, and imagining the amazing women they would have become, given a chance. Their father and I finally had our opportunity to express how our lives, and the lives of our surviving children, have been turned upside down since November 23, 2007.
The State asked for a brief delay (shocking!!), which was granted. Last Monday we finished the testimony portion of the hearing.
One of the State's two witnesses was an economics expert who "valued" my children. Jessica was worth at least $189,000 and Kelli was worth at least $144,000. This is based on their potential earnings, and their projected financial contributions to their father and me during our lifetimes. Note the "at least" disclaimer. The expert at least had the humanity to add that in there.
A friend asked me if that made me want to throw up. Yeah, it did. I've worked with wrongful death cases before, and knew this was coming, and told myself that it was just one of those clinical, detached necessary evils required by the Court. I tried not to take it personally. I failed.
Now the case is in the hands of the hearing officer, who will be making his recommendation to the Board of Commissioners "soon." The Board then reviews his recommendation, and we must have a majority (4 out of the 7) agree with him. Then, it is submitted to the Chief Judge, who can either agree with the Board, or remand it back for additional information, and then we start the process over.
Once the Chief ratifies the decision, the award amount, if any, must be sent to the Illinois State Legislature for appropriation. So it's going to take an act of Congress, so to speak, to finalize this case.
After all that, I needed to get out of town.
We went to Branson this past weekend over Mother's Day, and Maddy had a ball. It was great to see her enjoying herself and being a happy kid again. After much persuasion, she gave Marvel Cave and Fire In The Hole a chance, and I was pretty proud of her. She even admitted that she was glad she did, because now she wants to go to Branson every weekend.
Mother's Day this year was harder on me. Isn't it funny how recent major developments in this case have fallen around yet another holiday or milestone I won't be spending with them? The criminal plea was the day after my birthday; the trial started the Monday after my birthday; and we wrapped up the testimony just before Mother's Day.
As we were coming home on Sunday, I could feel the bad mood and general blah-ness settling over me. I knew what it was and why I felt like hitting someone. Funny how it just didn't help me deal with it any better.
I guess it was harder because we just had the trial and the plea, and I'm trying to mentally bounce back from that ordeal. It's not getting any easier; as a matter of fact, each time it gets a little harder. I'm just about done, people. The fountain from which I draw my strength is sputtering and running dry.
I'm tired. I'm tired of being in limbo. I'm tired of my life being on hold because I wake up every morning thinking "is today the day we will get a decision?" I have no idea when it will come. There is no deadline - it could be days, weeks, or even months.
I try to stay busy with my PursuitSafety work, planning the next blood drive and fundraiser, and trying to tell myself it will all be over soon.
Although the testimony part is done, we are still waiting...again...for a final resolution.