10-30 Victim’s Impact Statement

Six months ago today, Jason turned 32.  At 9:30 in the morning, he died in a stupid, preventable car accident.

I am supposed to summarize a lifetime in a few minutes.  This is yet another impossible task in six-month’s worth of impossible tasks.  I could spend hours telling you about Jason, about the person he was in the world, about the person he was to me, and I would still have more to say.  I can’t sum up a lifetime in a few pages of text or a few minutes of speech.  But I will tell you about the person I love, and I hope you can fill in the gaps.

Jason was forever reinventing himself.  Every new hobby was a way of life.  He couldn’t do anything just a little bit, he had to jump in with both feet.  He’d listen to the experiences of people around him and try to make himself a better person.  He was an adamant feminist and was working on how to do more emotional labor, how to be a good friend, how to build community.  He built more community than he could ever see.

Even amidst all these reinventions, new hobbies, and conscious efforts to change, there was always a core of who he was.  Jason was one of those people who was truly good.  A friend said when trying to describe him while he was still living that it sounded like a eulogy because he was too kind for this world.  He had an ever-present smile and a laugh that tipped his head back and filled the room around him.  He made people feel safe and welcome.

Two nights before he died, I asked him how many people he messaged with in a day.  He started listing people.  There are the six people he just sort of had open messages with – me, and his five closest friends.  And then there was the person who was struggling with anxiety who he’d messaged a silly cat video to. And the person who’s birthday it was that he’d wished a happy birthday to.  And the person who’d had a medical issue earlier that week that he was checking in on.  And the person that was breaking up with her boyfriend and just needed some extra support.  And the couple of friends who were performing that night that he’d messaged to tell them to have a great show.  By the time he’d finished listing people, he’d reached out to about a dozen people to offer love, support, and a laugh.  And this was a slow day for him, because he’d been busy at work.

Jason was that kind of person.  He was the friend who is always there for you, the cheerleader telling you to make good choices and go for it, the life of a party because he brought other people up around him.  He was easy to love.


Jason and I had the kind of love story that you would think was unrealistic if you read it in a novel.  We met when we were 14.  Jason thought I was pretty great.  I thought he needed to grow up.  We stayed friends.  When we were 20, he still thought I was pretty great.  I thought he’d kind of grown up.  We started dating three weeks before I went back to school in Massachusetts.  I thought we’d have a fling.  Something fun to do with my last few weeks of summer before I went back to college.  Jason convinced me to give long-distance dating a try.  He said till Christmas, I gave him until Thanksgiving.  And then until Christmas.  And then until summer break.  And then somehow, it wasn’t a fling anymore.  Somehow, it was the end of my junior year and Jason had gotten a passport to come visit me while I was doing research in Ireland.  And then somehow I was graduating college and moving back to Minnesota to see if this relationship was really going someplace.

A year after I moved back, we got married the first time.  We signed some paperwork and ran off to join the Peace Corps.  The Peace Corps was my dream.  It was my goal.  But it became his dream, because like everything in his life, once he was committed, he was all in.  He loved the Peace Corps.  He loved the connections he made with people, the sense of purpose, the feeling that he was helping people.  We stayed an extra year.

After the Peace Corps, we took the long way home.  We visited 15 countries in four months and came back with $2000 and no job between us. If you want to test your relationship, spend 4 months in a hotel room with someone.  We loved it.  We loved traveling together.  So we got married again, or for real this time, and not just on paper.

We had the kind of love story you only see on made-for-TV movies, including the struggle to determine the future of our relationship.  We worked on that.  We worked hard on that.  And we came out the other side knowing that our love ran deep, and that compromises about dirty clothes are necessary in the day to day.

Jason and I were a team.  He sent me chocolate the final week of writing my senior thesis.  I held flashcards for him while he studied for his black belt test.  He showed up to be a spotter for my gigs, he even learned to run a spot light when I needed someone to do that.  I made him specially designed dance costumes.  He set up my phone each time I broke it.  I taught him to cook.  As a team, the whole was truly greater than the sum of its parts.

Jason should be listening to me learn about public art and economic policy.  He should be helping demolish walls in our house and learning to tile the bathroom floor.  I should be putting rhinestones on oven mitts for a dance piece to “Shiny.”  He should be setting up wireless speakers around the whole house while I rewire the sockets on the first floor.

We should be living together.  We should be building a future together.

The question this is supposed to answer, is what impact has this had on me.  How has my life changed because of the actions of Rahim Meekins.

Here is the metaphor I have to offer.  Our lives are like stained glass windows.  In the center are the most important things.  For me, that was Jason and my family.  Around that are all the things that make up your life.  Bright, colorful glass that glows when the light catches it.  Glass that show off hobbies, loves, accomplishments, and all the other pieces.  There are blank places that haven’t yet been explored and there are places where the glass twists into ugly lumps, because we all have those places.  But when you look at the window, it is beautiful.  This life is beautiful.

Six months ago today, my stained glass shattered.  The center was pulverized into fine dust, and as it dissolved, the rest of the window broke and twisted.  The glass has become fragments with razor edges and the destruction is so complete that even the frame of the window is splintered and warped past recognition.  Now, I’m left with razor-edged shards and nothing in which to keep them.  The shards hurt to pick up, but I have no choice.  I have to keep picking them up and trying to fit them back together into something that resembles a life.

I have to find a way to live without the center of my world.

We used to text back and forth dozens of times a day.  His last message to me was six months and two days ago.  It’s still there and each day that goes by is another day that I don’t get a message from him.  That that final text message stays the same.  I used to drive left-handed.  We’d hold hands when we were in the car together, so I drove with my left and gave my right to him.  I hope we were holding hands when he died.  I drive right-handed now.

I’ve lost the center of my world.  I miss Jason with every breath I take.  Even six months out, I still reach for my phone to message him, I still expect to feel his heat at my back at night, I still reach for his hand in the car.  I don’t understand how he can be gone.  I don’t understand how I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life without him.

The question here is what did Mr. Meekins actions take from me?  What did I lose?  I lost my health insurance.  I very well might lose my house.  I lost my chance of having children.  I lost my future.  I lost the love of my life.

So, from this, what do I want for Rahim Meekins?  I want for him to understand that his choices led to this.  It was his choices that lead to Jason’s death.  He made a choice to get in a car.  He made the choice to drive.  He made a choice to race down a residential street.  He made a choice to give chase.  And before that, he made a choice to argue, he made a choice to escalate a situation instead of walking away.  And he made a choice before that, and before that, and before that, and those choices led here.  Those choices led to Jason’s death and led to this courtroom.  Those choices led him to prison with two new felonies and someone’s life on his hands.  Those were his choices and he made them and he can’t cast blame on anyone else for any of those choices.

Rahim Meekins needs to spend the rest of his life searching for redemption.  And the first step in that is understanding that his choices killed Jason.

On a more practical level, I want Mr. Meekins to go through anger management courses.  I want him to go through domestic violence classes.  I want him to get chemical dependency counselling and some sort of trade training.  I want him to be given the opportunity to make himself a better person.  I want him to find a different path than this one.  And until he has, I want for him to not have the opportunity to leave someone else a widow by making stupid choices.



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