Back when I worked in a state morgue in one of the most dangerous places on earth, people used to ask me if I felt ‘presence’…if I somehow could discern the spirits of those who often came to their end in unspeakably violent ways.
The answer is no. I’d never detected anything supernatural. At least not in the autopsy rooms where I worked. The bodies that would be examined and investigated are treated with the utmost respect and professionalism. The processes used to inquire into death are approached with great discipline. It is arduous work done by often remarkable people.
A wide, cold passage carries you from the the autopsy rooms to the dressing rooms in the square state morgue building. From here, a long narrow passage carries you back to the foyer where, for some people, things begin early in the morning and, for others, things end…
Most of us have tasted the paralyzing grief of losing a loved one. Most of us have been victims of crime and most of us have suffered the indignity and disappointment of being slandered, ruined or ridiculed.
But only when evil has touched you with its cold finger will you know the loneliness…the desperate desolation…that it entrenches in its victims.
In the corner of the foyer sat an older man with sad eyes and a warm spirit that had started to drift away gently into the spaces around him when police found his 14 year-old grandson tied to a tree…still dressed in his school uniform. He had been missing for months. He was filthy. And he was emaciated. He had died from hunger. He had swallowed his own tongue.
Not long after that a pretty young biology student was beaten to death with fists where she was sleeping in her own bed, ostensibly to teach her a lesson about failure to pay drug dealers. While her life came to an end, her brother slept peacefully in the room next door, unaware of his sister’s dark fate.
A business man and doting dad had died after his car was jacked and set on fire with him trapped inside. In the morgue a cellular phone was found clutched in his hand as it contorted into the fighter’s position because of the heat of the fire.
And these were just the few cases dealt with one Thursday afternoon.
When evil touches you it leaves you utterly alone. Tied to a tree, having life beaten or burnt from you…you are left alone to face your horrible fate. At your most frightening of moments, evil will wash you out on a deserted island. It will laugh at you while you beat your fists against the inside walls of a tiny cell.
When evil touches you it leaves you utterly alone. Imagining the horrors as it happened to your child…over and over…wondering if your husband, your dad, your brother tried to call you as he struggled for life…it covers you in an invisible blanket so that even if you are surrounded by dozens of souls, you are isolated by your grief and worry and obsessions.
Evil leaves nothing connected behind.
My mom used to say I should avoid things obviously evil. ‘One shouldn’t mess around with those things,’ she would say.
My mom was wise but I respectfully disagree with her there. I remind myself of evil often. I think of those victims and loved ones left behind and the police who made the discoveries and the dads and moms and blood drops…
I think of those things often as I sip on chococino and judge my own thoughts. I do this, I guess, for the same reason soldiers think back to their past battles. Because you can only truly appreciate the peace once you have seen war.
And though the coldness of evil seems all-encompassing sometimes, it is by no means unassailable. I remind myself of evil so that I can be thoroughly reminded of Goodness and its indisputable necessity. A little bit of Goodness is like a little bit of milk in hot coffee…it will always lighten the load.