Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Lessons from a Murder-Suicide

On Friday afternoon, I was doing some paperwork, which I really don't like to do, so I turned on the TV as a way to distract myself while I did it. As I did, there was breaking news, an Amber Alert (aka child abduction). Usually, those just kind of blow by me, but this time -- I actually knew the guy! 

I knew him because a friend of mine had been dating him for several months. Ella told me about Mourad -- he was an engineer, who'd been working for a long time at Hewlett Packard, a single dad of a 2 year old daughter, whom he adored. He liked to windsurf and kayak. He was divorced from an attorney who was constantly trying to get more from him. At this point, she was trying to get more than the 80% custody she already had of their daughter. 

In California, custody decisions are usually made in the best interest of the child. The presumption is that it is good for the child to have both parents in her life, unless one of them is an addict, a criminal or an abuser. Mourad didn't appear to be any of those. In fact, Ella said, he was a kind, loving, patient father. And Ella would know -- she was not only a mother herself, but also a teacher, so she'd seen lots of parents interacting with their kids. 

Anyway, Ella wanted me to meet Mourad, and so in May, my husband and I had a long, leisurely dinner with him and Ella at an Indian restaurant.  Apparently the restaurant's management knew and liked him -- they brought us some of his favorite dish on the house. 

He was good company, engaging without dominating the conversation. Although he'd been born in Egypt, his parents, both psychologists, moved here when he was 2 to escape religious persecution, as they were Copts,  i.e. Christians, in an Arabic country. He grew up speaking only English, and decided as an adult to learn Arabic, out of curiosity. He'd been to Egypt in his 30's to visit family, and while there, tried to get Egyptian citizenship. He was refused, and was pretty sure it was because he was Christian. 

His eyes absolutely lit up when he spoke of his daughter, whom he called 'the light of my life'. 

As time went on, I heard a bit more. His custody battle got worse. He'd spent a LOT of money on an attorney who he felt had done very little for him, so his brother, also an attorney, advised him to represent himself, which he was doing. 

About a month ago, Ella backed off from dating him, saying that he'd become obsessed with the custody battle, which he felt was rigged against him. They remained friends, though, and were still in touch with each other. 

All day Saturday, as my husband and I were helping his daughter move to new digs for her senior year in college, we saw the Amber Alert signs on the freeway. On Sunday morning, as we drove up to Sacramento to take care of some business, we noticed that the signs were down. And then we heard the news: the bodies of Mourad and his daughter had been found

Ella was devastated, and oddly, so was I. Ella wondered, would it have changed anything had she stayed in a closer relationship to him? Could she have changed it? I did my best to comfort her -- but murders and suicides don't feel like deaths from disease or even accident. And even I was wondering, how did I miss this?

I've been thinking about this for a couple of days now, and here's what I've learned:
  • Desperate people do desperate things - Cornered animals will attack; a trapped one will chew off its own leg to get free (one man sawed off his own arm). 
  • You never know whom you are going to effect - I barely knew Mourad, and yet I am deeply affected by his apparent choice (police have not yet given a cause of death). There are probably many more like me. Further, I'm writing about it, so it affects you. And that's true of all of us all the time. You don't know how your actions will affect others, or even who those others are. (For the story through Mourad's father's eyes, and how it may affect even more people, click here.)
  • You can't change someone else's agreements - When Ella asked me to look at the deaths psychically, I saw that 
    • the father and daughter were fine on the 'other side',
    • it really wasn't hard on the girl, who hadn't been here very long, anyway,
    • they had an agreement to teach a lesson to the mother, who was manipulative and a bully. The lesson: you can't have everything your way,
    • When all three eventually reunite on the other side, they'll shake hands, and the mother will be grateful for the sacrifice they made to teach her that lesson. 
  • You never know what tomorrow will hold - People can leave the earth plane very suddenly and unexpectedly, so clear up all misunderstandings and disagreements as quickly as you can. Tell people you love them as often as you think of it.
  • You can't 'see' what you're not asked to 'see'- When I met Mourad, I met him as a human being. I listened to my friend talk about him, as friends do. I was never asked to look at anything psychically for him or about him, and so I didn't. To do so without being asked, and without it affecting my life, would not have been clairvoyance, it would have been clairvoyeurism. Now I understand all the neighbors who say, after a tragedy, "He was such a nice guy -- how could this have happened?"

No comments: