Elva Diaz was released from prison over a year ago, July 4, 2015. I wanted to write about it then but couldn't find the words. We always knew the day would come, that there was a date on the calendar somewhere that would forever mark the day of her release. I can't help but feel it is some kind of cruel irony that it turned out to be Independence Day.
By the State's calculus, Elva Diaz was credited with double time for time served of her 10 year sentence for Gross Vehicular Manslaughter. She spent over a year in county jail awaiting trial. So, after sentencing she spent 4 years in prison and was released on parole.
Hereafter, July 4th will be celebrated by Elva Diaz and her family as the day she finally paid off her debt to society for her crimes, was liberated from prison, and set free to begin a new chapter in her life. It means the end of the consequences she must suffer for taking Rachel's life. Elva's life will resume now much the same shape it had before the night of February 21, 2008. I'm still not sure what it means for us, but every year another celebration will be tainted with the memory of what we lost.
And that is just the way it is. And we, Rachel's family, must be learn to be satisfied and to let go of any desire for retribution. I still don't know what justice is, but I know that balance has not been restored. In a case like this, that was always an impossibility, though we may not always have acknowledged it.
The following is a transcript of text messages to and from a friend, transmitted on the date of Elva Diaz's release. The words of my friend are wise, and I have had over a year now to consider them. I'm not saying I am there yet, but they serve as a signpost for the way ahead...