An Essay By Kevin Brian Dowling
A World Without Children
"I love you, Daddy!". God, how I miss hearing that. Those four words echo through the eroding valleys of my memory, last recorded nearly 13 years ago.
I struggle to envision their ebullient faces. I draw breath hoping to detect the distinctive scents of their innocent heads, as I once did, after God gifted them to this world.
I lived a good life. I never hurt anyone. I worked hard to provide for my wife and three children. I looked forward to a long happy life, to watching my children succeed, to knowing my grandchildren, and perhaps much more. Then, at a time chosen by God. I would leave this mortal plane and wear the wooden coat to the resurrection.
For reasons that are too complicated to detail here, the scions of Satan whose nefarious motives sent me to death row for crimes they knew I could not have committed, did so by targeting my traumatized family to accomplish their goal. They succeeded, and destroyed my marriage and alienated my children in the process.
What do my children look like or sound like after all these years? I do not know. Are they safe and well? I can only pray they are. Every parent knows that rush of panic when their child runs into the street, or eludes their protective sight in a shopping mall. When your child gets hurt or feels ill, you wish you could suffer in their stead.
Then there are those incredible moments of joy. The first smile and giggle of a baby are the purest forms of art and music in creation. You dedicate your life to witnessing their success in school and work, to being there when they find love, and seeing them instil the same values in their children.
I find myself exiled to a caliginous netherworld, permeated with calamity, in an interminable epoch. I am between paradise and perdition. In one sense I exist in a veritable dungeon, confined to a cement box in a world without humanity. This is a world without children. I was charged with false accusations, given an unjust castigation and branded for slaughter.
I look out my cell window and see an alternative universe. The red sun rising signals the spilling of blood. The stars are not beacons from distant worlds, but mere pinholes in the curtain of night. Each day feeds a growing past and a diminishing future. The book of my life already has 13 chapters of empty pages.
In another sense, I find myself dangling from the edge of a cliff, hovering over a misty abyss. I struggle to maintain my grasp on the jagged rock. I experience every moment in the lives of my children, both real and imagined.
Their voices waft through the mist from below. "Help me, Daddy!" I cannot help my baby. "Daddy, I don't know what to do". I cannot counsel my child either. I can neither climb to the acme nor can I release myself into the mist. My hands seem glued in place.
Occasionally I receive letters from my few remaining family and friends. Their letter provide momentary footholds, so that I can rest my weary arms.
Death Row takes away everything a man ever was, or will ever be, obliterating his past and annihilating his future.
The cries and pleas from the mist buffet my heart and soul like relentless turbulent winds of searing heat. This is a war without the usual battles and without physical weapons. I am inflicted with wounds that neither bleed nor heal. There is no re-quiescence.
I stoke the furnace of my broken heart with whatever fuel I can muster. Someday there will be nothing left to burn, and they will immolate me on the altar of false justice.
My mortal shell will disintegrate into embers and ashes, and drift away into the eternal mist below. I can see my children again! I experience another forgotten sensation as I feel their hearts beating against mine in a warm embrace! I hear those elusive words once again - "I love you, Daddy!".
Kevin Brian Dowling,