I’ve been following the trial of George Huguely closely and had mixed emotions this week when he was found guilty of second-degree murder in the killing of his girlfriend Yeardley Love. While I was glad for the guilty verdict, I didn’t feel the sense of peace that justice is supposed to bring. I can only imagine that what I felt – as someone who never knew Yeardley – was compounded exponentially by her mother and her sister and everyone who loved her. George Huguely may sit behind bars for 26 years. That means, that when he is released from prison, if he serves that full term and isn’t released early on parole, he will be 50 years old. He will still have his whole life ahead of him. Yeardley, on the other hand, is dead. Nothing can change that. Justice? Not so much. Some might say that the death penalty is the only way to make sure that justice is served. I have a sneaking suspicion that this too wouldn’t put the ache of Yeardley’s untimely death to rest. The bottom line is that she is gone and nothing can change that. Not a guilty verdict and not an eye for an eye.
Why do I care? I never knew Yeardley or George. Because I know the fear she felt and the hopelessness and the despair. If, like me, she had lived, she would have carried those feelings with her for the rest of her life. But she also would have lived. And she would have known what it was like to get to the other side. To escape – even if a part of you will never be truly free. Yeardley never got the chance to know what it’s like to live without fear, even if only for fleeting days, months and moments.