On Thursday, late afternoon we got a call from the DA's office saying it was looking like he may plead guilty. He was ready to enter his plea the next day on Friday at 2pm. She said he may back out of it and to not get our hopes up. We made arrangements to be there with shaky hopes, bracing ourselves for anything.
It was one of those hearings where multiple cases are heard. First was a young man maybe 20 years old standing in front of the judge on drug charges. He had multiple felonies already under his young belt. He left long before our case was heard but I'd wished so bad that he could've stayed and listened to a possible future for him if he continued down the road he was heading. Next was a homicide case. Half the courtroom was filled with the victim's family as they awaited sentencing.
Each time they ended one case we braced ourselves expecting him to be wheeled out. I began to cry long before it was our turn. I don't know why but I didn't expect to cry. I was overcome by emotion for once again our fate was held in his hands.
They wheeled him out and I noticed that he had cut his hair for the first time since the accident. They parked his wheelchair next to the pulpit in front of the judge, instead of next to his attorneys where he usually sits. The judge questioned his sanity and if he was competent enough to enter a plea today. They named off each felony one by one and he plead guilty to each count. I felt heads turning and eyes falling on us as they read each charge. As I looked up my eyes made contact with Bailiffs and police officers who were looking at us with deep sympathy and watery eyes. Sentencing was scheduled for late September where Ryan and I will both speak.
I began to relax and must have started daydreaming as they finished up and the Bailiff started to wheel him out. I heard a voice say To the Pack family I truly am so sorry. I wasn't looking at him but our eyes quickly met for the first time as I came out of my daydream to quickly say thank you.
The feeling of relief took over us both as we exited the courtroom. We thanked the Prosecutor and thanked her for not doing any plea bargains. I really don't think I could've handled it if they had. A reporter met us outside the doors for a quick interview and asked right away if we forgive him. I realized that at that moment I didn't, and I thought it was ridiculously soon to be asking us that. I couldn't answer and just looked at Ryan who gave a statement.
As we drove home I could physically feel the hardness in my chest start to loosen up. I can only describe it like a sinus infection. When your sinuses are clogged and everything is hard causing you a headache. Except I didn't feel the hard part until it slowly began softening up, slowly releasing me from the tension I'd been unknowingly carrying around. I don't know if it was anger, hate, anxiety, pain, or sadness...perhaps all of the above, but it had slowly built up inside me, around my heart.
I'm sure I will get to the point of forgiveness and a huge part of me feels like I already have. Hearing his voice and putting myself in his shoes really made me feel sorry for him. The fact that he pled guilty definitely helps the process. I don't hate him. I wish that our story could prevent this from ever happening to anyone else ever again. I wish I could talk to every young drug addict and tell them our story, I wish he could too. I just want something really good to come out of this tragedy.