Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Jail, Institution, and Death

Tooele has been suffering a labeling problem lately.

Last week Wednesday a man doing some remodel/maintenance on his house found a couple of boxes labeled EXPLOSIVES/TNT under a subfloor. 20 evacuated homes and a couple of x-rays later the contents were identified as homemade soap.

Strange things do turn up in Tooele homes. In 2008 a contractor re-roofing a 1920’s era house in Tooele discovered a desiccated human head. The head apparently originally belonged to a native-American.  The previous owners thought the disembodied head was cool, but then threw into a corner of the attic when they got bored with it.

Yesterday a young Tooele mother of 5 tried feeding her 2-year old some Gatorade from a bottle labeled "Gatorade" that was actually full of methadone. Her 2-year old would not drink the reddish-pink "Gatorade" so her 5year old tried it and said it was awful. Her 8-year old also tried it and said it tasted mediciney. Her 11 and 14-year olds did not try it, and so they remain, along with their father, the only members of the family not jailed, hospitalized, or dead. The 2-year old died of an overdose shortly after drinking the "Gatorade".

The sort of story that ends with the death of an otherwise healthy 2-year-old demands questions. First of all Jill and her husband Cody were not a stereotypical couple who grew up and became stuck in the small town populated largely by their cousins in which they too were born. They grew up and attended Grantsville High, and Grantsville is several miles away from Tooele.

Of course the obvious questions concerning how or why Jill had a Gatorade bottle filled with methadone may be interesting, but I haven’t a clue as to the answers. I also cannot answer why a 32-year old woman had 5 kids.

When Jill married Cody on June 10th 2000 she was still a teenager. June in the Tooele Valley can be excruciatingly hot or wonderful, and it can change between these extremes several times a day. June is a time for picturing a future filled with wonderful fragile weather, both real and metaphorical.

Less than 14 years later she would be bouncing around in a double-wide with five kids. It was one of the largest homes in the neighborhood, and it boasted an actual white-picket fence outside. Perhaps it was a desire for a stable more perfect future that inspired Jill to birth so many children. Inside the home the motivation for storing powerful narcotics disguised as sport’s drink would birth unimaginable loss.

Right now the ground in Tooele is coated with a fresh couple inches of overnight snow.  The day's sun is brushing it off the bushes that locals call "trees".    The black of the bare branches is blacker still against the sub-freezing snow.  With the air cleared of Salt-Lake-City smog by the light precipitation the small, bare, black bushes look insignificant in the vistas that stretch out to mountains defining the Tooele Valley, and then beyond to a horizon defining the place where sky adsorbs the great Salt Lake.   But even when squinting into that void beyond these impressive distances it appears as if sunnny days in June are obscured by clouds.

This side of the winter solstice the days are getting noticeably longer.  The twisted black twigs will sprout leaves again soon.  Time will goose-step mercilessly towards another spring.  People will unforgivably smile in the sun, and find love again. 

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