What I am to you is not me. The lyric echoed through my head. I t would not stop. The judge was talking, the verdict and sentence we had waited months to hear—months—hell, years, maybe my whole conscious life—was being delivered and I could hear nothing but What I am to you is not me. What I am to you is not me. Not me, Not me.
My daughter, usually statuesque at 5’10’’ crumples next to me and her tears begin to flow. Her sorrow hits me like a tsunami and yet I still know nothing of what has transpired—no decision of this court will end her pain—still only know What I am to you is not me.
Are you going to pay in some small way for the destruction you have wrought? For the black poison you have pressed into our mouths year after year? For the seed you have sown into the willing soil of our bodies and souls which grew and choked us out almost completely?
I look down at my hands; their shaking surprises me, and I will them to reach around hers and hold on. Why are we here? I wonder. What does this day matter, these words I cannot hear, what do they matter? I feel nothing as I try to enact comfort on her. I feel nothing. I hear nothing.
Still, I am something. Twenty four years ago my soul shouted, “I am something!” defying your malediction. What I am to you is not me.
That is the only verdict that saved me. That is the only verdict that will save my daughter.
I whisper the benediction into her ear, “You are something,” my forehead pressed against her temple. Then I pull her out of the courtroom and into the sun.