Memories with Richard Bleil
We were all meeting in the lobby area of the dorm, waiting for our one last participant to show up. Unfortunately, she was delayed, so we were just kind of chatting. Very shortly after she arrived, there was a loud crash and scream. Apparently, there had been a crime, quite ironic since I was there for a forensic science training course.
The course was designed to help educators with ideas on using forensic science in their classes to teach principles of chemistry and physics. The techniques were real (although some were flawed) and the crime was, of course, simulated. We had roughly twenty participants, and along with the lead there were a few student assistants as well. The crime was in a more or less empty meeting hall adjacent to where we were. Everybody was very excited and ran about like idiots rushing from one clue to another and tramping over any evidence that might have been present. So it’s a good thing it was only a simulation.
Me? I’m not a fan of crowds. I stood back and watched the chaos, and when the other participants followed the clues out of the room, down the hallway and outside, I opted to stay behind. One of his assistants stayed with me. There was a broken mug near the one chair in the room, and I reconstructed the crime itself. It was pretty clear that the “victim” was sitting in the chair, but where was the perpetrator? I examined the broken glass, and the angles of the water on the floor, and deduced that the perpetrator had hurled a glass at the victim (hence the scream) from quite some distance away. The perp couldn’t have been standing where I had originally assumed because the angle was wrong. The assistant listened to me as I reasoned out where the perp must have been standing, not near a door, so the two must have known each other.
She was astounded that I put the entire crime together, detail for detail.
We rush into things. We’re excited by the new and run to chase the advances down in our lives, often at the expense of the present. There’s something to be gained by stopping and examining where we are at, paying attention to the details of our current situation before rushing into the next. In a way, this is what happened to my marriage. As I stood in the wreckage of our relationship, noticing the good things in it and examining the pieces for evidence that it can be repaired, she ran out the door and down the hallway towards the next exciting thing.
In crime scenes, the forensic scientists are too late. There’s really nothing that can be done. The crime is over, the victim has already been harmed (or killed). All we can really do is, hopefully, put the pieces together to try to bring justice to the criminal and maybe prevent that person from committing the crime again, but the reality is that it’s impossible to go back and undo the damage done. Relationships are like this, too. Once the damage is done by some act of unkindness, lack of thoughtfulness, cruelty or whatever the case may be, it’s done. The damage has been felt, the trust has been tarnished. And, yes, sometimes the best course of action is to move on. But before that decision is made, it’s wise to stand in that rubble and consider all aspects. What will be lost with the failure of the relationship? Can the relationship be salvaged, and would it be worth the effort or not? What, exactly, happened when the crime was committed? Those clues out in the hallway, down to the door and outside will still be there if the decision to leave is made, but sometimes, once you do leave the room, that door will lock behind you.
When my wife asked me for a divorce, I tried to impress upon her what these losses would be. No, not begging, but circumstances gave us two weeks together before a final decision had to be made. I simply asked her to consider her choice, what would be lost, and in two weeks to give me her decision. When she did, I realized that I had been in the crime zone alone all along. It takes two to make a marriage work, and she was not only refusing to make that effort, but I realized that she never had. So, the decision to let her have her way actually came easily to me. Had she wanted to try to work it out I would have, but when she said she did want the divorce I was happy to acquiesce. I have my blue days, but overall, there is not a doubt in my mind that it was time to leave the crime scene once and for all.