Our verdict had been unanimous. Gerard Wilkinson had guilt written all over his face. The evidence against him had been compelling, the man himself doing little to protest his innocence.
We’d spent two weeks listening to the evidence as the prosecution set out their case. The details were graphic, some hitting a little too close to home for my liking. When I looked into the eyes of the victim’s parents, I felt the kind of connection that only the death of a loved one can bring.
Wilkinson had left a father without a daughter, a husband without a wife, a child without a mother.
He’d been drunk when he got behind the wheel, three times over the legal limit. He’d also been speeding. Weaving into the lane of oncoming traffic, he’d ploughed into the young woman’s vehicle at over eighty miles an hour.
She stood no chance.
Did Wilkinson look remorseful as the details of his victim’s injuries were read out repeatedly? Did he flinch as the M.E gave evidence as she reported her findings? Did he even care that he’d ripped a family apart with his reckless actions?
I couldn’t be sure.
But I cared.
I cared because I knew what it felt like to lose someone you love so suddenly.
My beautiful cousin, a girl who was more like a sister to me, had been ripped away so cruelly, so quickly.
We hadn’t even had the chance to say goodbye.
I’d seen her only days before, promising to visit her in the coming weeks.
I never got that chance.
She’d been happy and settled, her whole life ahead of her….
And then she was gone. In an instant.
My world came crashing down around me.
For weeks I felt numb with shock, not even crying until the pallbearers carried her coffin into the church. I looked after others, taking on the role of being the ‘strong one’, ignoring my own grief.
Until it hit me like a tidal wave.
She was gone.
Never again would I see her smiling face. Never again would I hear her infections laugh. Never again would I feel the kindness and compassion of the woman who loved me like a sister.
Her life had been wiped out in an instant, snatched away by the reckless actions of another. Taken far before her time.
She was one of God’s children. Why did He have to take her away from us?
But I know she’s in Heaven watching over us, taking care of all the others that we’ve loved and lost. Sometimes I feel her hand on my shoulder, keeping me steady and giving me the will to go on.
There was no justice for her leaving, the man who’d killed her walking away with no convictions to his name and nary an injury to his body.
I couldn’t get justice for my cousin, but for this family who’d lost their daughter, today I would.
Written in response to Thain in Vain’s Week 25 prompt: ‘Your protagonist is a member of jury about to hear the sentencing of the criminal you just convicted.‘
Dedicated to H. I love you and I miss you more each day. Sleep with the angels.