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Friday, September 05, 2014

Marriage Certificate, Death Certificate

I picked up informational copies of Asha's marriage license and death certificate.  Her mother's maiden name is Kilian, so that confirms for me that she was half Scottish. She had been married just a little under two years when she died.

To look on these things begins to solidfy my sense of Asha as a person, not a statistic.  Here is her signature, with her surname, Dragunowicz, written first, an almost unreadable loop across the page--the very first thing I have seen which is "hers"--her name.  She had sixteen years of education.  They were married at the end of December.  Strange that the Internet will be able to provide me with the moon phase that day, even perhaps the weather if I can find it.  I hope the day she was married was a pretty, sunny winter day. I hope she had a bouquet in her hand and that Richard kissed her at the end of the ceremony.

Marriage certificates are full of hope.

A death certificate, on the other hand, is bleak, sad, final.  Her body was found "over an embankment on a public roadway" around 6:10 in the evening.  The cause of death is "pending" and the clerk told me it was curious that it had never been amended.

That she was found at 6:10 made me realize further why I saw firefighters (a lot of them) and divers navigating into the San Lorenzo River a bit further down from where it runs through Ben Lomond:  they were looking for a murder weapon that may had drifted downriver.  The object which caused a brutal blunt-force trauma to Asha's skull has never been recovered, and all they know is that it was heavy and covered with black paint.

I know the causes of her death.  She did not deserve this.  She did not deserve to be reduced to a person on a blue-bordered death certificate, to be reduced down to someone tossed "over an embankment on a public roadway." Her story is not reduced to those lines.

I've a saying: when someone dies, worlds die with them--the world of that person's life.  Writing this is like raising that world from the dead, for the short time a writer can do that.

Her death certficate, in some way, is the saddest part of what is left of her: unamended, sitting in the Santa Cruz County building forever, never completed.

This process of getting into a person's life probably seems obsessive to some who come to this blog and read my words.  I hope to show how writers operate to create a resonance with the audience:  a person who was born, who lived and died along with her child on a full-moon September night, for no other reason except that she wanted to do the right thing for the child she carried.

Next week, I will begin looking at the criminal records and the trial documents.  I curiously am very attached to this project.  I resonate so much with Asha's story, and I think the best stories are written with this sort of resonance...not like this is the "best" story, but it is certainly compelling me to move forward.

Taking a break from all this tonight and am going to Haitian dance.  I need to rinse my mind a little bit after today, before I proceed with another chaper.