I have spent much of today watching and listening to people who have lost a loved one at the Station Nightclub fire make impact statements at the sentencing of Michael and Jeffrey Derderian, the two brothers who owned the club.
Person after person spoke of their loved and their loss. Many expressed anger at the brother, the judge, and the state of Rhode Island. All expressed anguish.
The two brothers, weeks away from trial, changed their plea from not guilty to nolo contendere. In exchange for their plea of no contest Michael Derderian will serve 4 years with 3 years probation, Jeffrey Derderian will serve no time but will have to perform 500 hours of community service.
Many question if justice was served.
It is easy to understand why the people who have lost someone would feel that way and honesty and probably wrongly the opinions of those unaffected matter little to me. I feel for these people not just for their loss but for their anger. I just don't know how someone could exist feeling so angry for so long. For them this outcome will give them little consolence. I doubt any sentence could. I'm reminded that someone once said that "life does what it's supposed to do and you accept it and go on", for these people I hope they can "go on".
That fateful night my cousin was at the Station Nightclub, she would never come home. She would leave behind two daughters, a fiancee, and a bright future. She is forever 29 but in my mind's eye she is 10 or 12, her red hair is in pigtails and we ride bikes, and roll down hills and laugh, years away from when I would have to say good-bye. I hear her voice, her laugh and wonder if she knew how special she was, how much she would be missed.
This morning was cool, gray and dreary, a wet and somber day that unexplainably turned bright and sunny. The cool September wind gently caresses 100 crosses in a vacant lot in West Warwick. There where it was once so chaotic it is now calm and peaceful, and we remember......