Sleep Walking Through Life

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Have you ever wondered what complete blackness would be like? What it would be like not to exist- no consciousness- no choices- no life- no soul? Lately I have been wondering about that a lot…

I grew up in a Catholic family and when people would ask what religion I practiced- I always responded, “Well, I was raised Catholic.” But what does that mean? Does that mean I believe in a God or that I was destined by fate to be Catholic from mere genes. Did those that I had relationships deem me a Christian- at birth? I would hear other people say similar quips when asked about their Catholic Religion. My philosophical dilemma only began to consume the tapestry of my mind as of recent. Something occurred that made me question everything, and it would do the same to any sane person. At least I would hope so.

Five years ago a mother killed her husband and four children with a switchblade. She was nicknamed, “The Blade Dame.” At that time I was working for the Pittsburgh Press and I sat in the courtroom frequently, along with other reporters, watching her trial.

I was new to the press and followed their assignments, and I began to question the very existence of my profession. I was writing about a women who murdered her husband and four kids, and while I was being paid to report her misery- well- she simply was miserable. Profiting from other people’s misfortune bothered me, but I stuck to the assignment- as it was my first with the press.

She had discovered that her husband was cheating on her not but a month ago. In addition, two of her children were struggling with learning disabilities. By everybody’s account she was a desperate women and sliding downhill. Sliding fast. Yet, she claimed complete innocence.

Three weeks prior to the murders she had started taking medication her family physician prescribed to help her cope with stress. Her attorney made a statement that the pharmaceutical company was responsible because she had no recollection of her crimes. This was justified by the fact that she woke up covered in blood, called 911, and the police report indicated that she thought somebody had snuck into her house and murdered her family. Was this a desperate women making a desperate attempt to save herself from lethal injection?

Pharmaceutical companies testified that their was no evidence that the medication she was prescribed would lead her to sleep walk or do such deplorable acts. She testified, that her husband had caught her sleepwalking a week prior to the incident.

I was there for the verdict. The women wept uncontrollably, tears streaming down her bright red cheeks, and from my chair I could see her shaking with anxiety. Through the course of the trial she had lost a lot of weight. The gavel pounded as the jours reentered the room with the verdict. You could tell by the jours awkward eyes and sullen faces that the verdict was not going to be a good one. (depending on whose side you took)

The judge cleared his throat as he read the verdict, “Melanie Harpoon, you are found guilty on five accounts of murder and sentenced to lethal injection.”

Upon the reading of this, Melanie passed out and the courtroom went into an uproar. Over the commotion you could hear the gavel being struck as judge called for order.

Five years later, she was finally executed in the present day’s humane way of killing somebody- lethal injection, and the story resurfaced as the public glowed with interest. Although, I thought it sad, I felt justice had been dealt properly. Or so I thought.

Two days after her execution there was a whistle blower at the pharmaceutical company. The drug, did, in fact, cause absence of consciousness and sleep walking, as well as eradicate behavior. They had covered up the finding and Melanie had been telling the truth all along. She was not crazy. She was not desperate. She was the victim. Now why did this bother me so much?

If a jury of 12 people could not deliver an unbiased and accurate sentence while being mediated by a judge; what hope is there for the justice system. I had deemed her guilty as well- everybody did- but if we were wrong about her, what else are we wrong about? Is there a God?  Do we really have all the evidence to give an unbiased account that a higher power exists? The world deemed her a murderer. The world was wrong. What else is the world wrong about? Are we all merely sleep walking our way through existence?

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