A few days later, on April 6, 2004, I was out celebrating a victory with my co-workers when my phone rang. My company had just successfully completed its first major project engineered and executed by my employees in our Baton Rouge office, and we had gathered at the Lager’s Ale House, on Veterans Boulevard in Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans. When I saw my mother’s number on the caller ID, I left our noisy table and went into the bathroom to answer the call.
“Hi, honey,” she said. “How are you?”
“I’m fine. I’m out celebrating our first grand-slam project.
My boss is here from California, and we’re doing great. How are you?”
“Well, I just left the coffee shop where I met Earl. He says he can’t tell us what your father did. He says what your father did was so heinous it would destroy us. I know this is not what you wanted to hear, but he begged me to tell you just to drop this thing with your father. He was very adamant about that.”
I could hear how upset she was.
“It’s okay, Mom. I know you’ve done everything you can. So we will never know. So what? We still have each other, right?”
“Honey, I think we just need to let go now.”
“I guess you’re right. Besides I have the best gift of all—you. That’s good enough for me,” I said, trying to cheer her up.
Inside, I was conflicted. Something wasn’t right here. Why did Earl Sanders care about what would destroy me? We had never met. And why would Harold Butler say that what was in that file would make what Van had done to Judy seem inconsequential? The more I thought about it, the less it made any sense at all. Police officers had to give people bad news all the time.
Why was this different?
I couldn’t just let it go. But I wish now that I had.