When I worked for a plaintiff's firm, we represented the wife and mother of a young man who had been murdered at his place of employment. We were pursuing employer liability while the criminal case against the killers proceeded in the courts. The wife and mother, both spoke only Spanish, and were often accompanied by the murdered man's brother when they came to the office. The brother spoke English and he and I would chat. One day he expressed dread as the second criminal trial was approaching and he wondered if he had the strength to sit through it. He said that he though it was easier on his mother and sister-in-law as they did not understand the language and did not have to hear the horror of this terrible death. He wondered aloud, why he felt compelled to attend, as it was so unbearable.
I told him of Dominick Dunne, the author and father of the murdered young actress Dominique Dunne. He was asked a similar question as he sat every day in the small Santa Monica courtroom, a few short feet away from the man who choked the life out of his only daughter. He said that he had to be there as he was attending to the last business of his child's life.
I told this bereft brother, that Dunne, a famous author who traveled in the highest circles of wealth, privilege and social class shared with him a duty to family that crossed all strata of human society. The brother nodded, looked off in the distance and said softly, "Yes. It is the last business of my brother's life. That is why I go." I have never forgotten this and was reminded of it when I saw my friend Rich Martinez on television responding to the senseless murder of his son, Chris, in Isla Vista in yet another grotesque mass murder that has once again, stained our nation.
Too early for grief, Rich's anger and blame was no more than an extension of the devoted parenting skills he and Chris' mother had exercised for the last twenty years. Through his grief, he directed his words toward improving our social good--the very thing he did as a parent in shaping Chris to be the kind, loving, generous boy that he was.
I am gobsmacked at the bravery of Richard's last parental act, to think of others and to try to achieve social change. I don't know if I have ever seen anything so brave as Richard Martinez attending to the last business of his child's life.