This morning my heart is in California, where a friend is at the bedside of her dying mother. Mere days ago, Glenda Crosley was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. The latest facebook update informs those of us who are praying from afar that Glenda has been removed from life support. According to that same update, all three daughters are present, one of whom had not seen her mother in 12 years. With that sliver of information it makes sense that the update also informs us that they are all sharing laughter, tears, and shouting.
This scene probably doesn't differ much from other families when estrangement is part of the story. But what is different is that this particular bedside is in a prison hospital, where Glenda is serving 15 to life for killing her abusive husband. She passed the 25-year mark last year. In January she was denied parole, again, because the parole board didn't seem to think that Glenda had come to understand that she could have "just left" her husband at the time she killed him (referred to as "lack of insight"), acting out of fear that he was about to kill her.
Before I left MTSU last summer, Glenda's daughter and I were busy planning a domestic violence awareness event for campus in the fall that we hoped would herald Glenda's release. The passage of two bills in the California legislature, known as the Sin by Silence bills,offered significant hope for this possibility, but such was not to be. The kind of release Glenda will soon experience is not at all what we had in mind.
My heart is heavy on behalf of Glenda's family, now robbed by cancer and the justice system of the possibility to mend some of the holes torn into their lives by domestic violence. I am angered by what I believe is an injustice not just to Glenda, but to women (and men) everywhere who suffer abuse at the hand of people they love.
Assuming that in due time Glenda would have been released, her plan had been to move to Tennessee to be near Stacy, who is a fierce and constant advocate for victims of abuse. Glenda would have spoken to groups of men and women about her experience, about what she had learned, about the insight gained not only about the dynamics of abuse, but about the battle to find courage and confidence within. I can't help but shake my head about the waste of Glenda's extended incarceration. Although a documentary film chronicles her story, from prison the impact she is able to have is limited. Her release would have allowed her to spend what she could of her remaining days making a difference on this side of prison walls. Now that will never be.
Today I invite your prayers for Glenda, that her remaining hours will be filled with grace and peace; for her family, that the balm of God's love will minimize the effect of this gash in their lives as they seek reconciliation and bear the mantle of grief; for victims of abuse everywhere that they may find strength and courage for a life of hope, and justice to redress wrongs; for members of the justice system who bear the responsibility of making decisions that can diminish or empower the lives they touch; for all of us, that we may act in ways that celebrate and encourage love and compassion, and do our part in whatever way we are able to advocate for peace and justice in this world. And finally, for perpetrators of abuse, that whatever fuels the anger that results in violence may be diffused and redirected, that injury may be avoided and healing may ensue.
Go peacefully, Glenda.