Monday, August 7, 2017

A Shakespearean Tragedy by Juliana Aragon Fatula


I loved all of my students; of course there were the disadvantaged, the shy, the challenged, the misfits, and the freaks; I loved them all. A few of them kept in touch for the last six years. I follow their graduation to college to work to whatever happens next in their lives. I wasn't prepared for the news I received on Friday. It was heart breaking to learn about one of my student's eighteen year old brother murdered in cold blood and left like trash to bleed to death at the reservoir.  

I heard one of my students was arrested and in jail for a violent homicide. I thought about that student and the conversations we'd had in my classroom. She was smart, pretty, talented, and young. Too young to realize that being in the wrong place with the wrong person can get you six to ten years in the Colorado State Pen.

Southern Colorado 2016
I feel empathy for the student who lost her brother. She also was smart, pretty, talented, young; she attends college and works part time. She took my advise to look both ways. But I feel something for the student in jail because it could have been me. It could have been any of us if we'd made the wrong choice and dated that infamous bad boy. The only crime she committed was being the girlfriend of a criminal, a murderer, and for not going to the police. Maybe she feared her boyfriend would kill her too.
1972 Freshman in high school




I wish I knew what to say to these two young women. But I do know one thing. You can change your destiny. You can change yourself; become a better person. You can hate life and turn evil because someone murdered your brother and you want revenge. Or you can stay in college and graduate and go out into the world and make something of yourself and change the world. 

I predict one of these two women will change their destiny and do something incredible with their life. I'd tell the young woman in jail that her life is not over but she damn better get her shit together and find new friends and a better life for herself. She can serve her time and still be in her thirties when she's released. She can become anything she decides to do with her life. She can volunteer at a homeless shelter, she can go to night school and become a doctor; she can travel the world and save humanity.

Denver, Colorado 1990's

I know it's possible because I turned my life around and by the time I was fifty, I had graduated from university with a degree in language arts, found work teaching middle school in my hometown, married for twenty-five years and sober for twenty-seven years. I turned my life around because I saw the inside of a jail cell and I freaked out. I vowed to never end up in trouble again. I don't jaywalk, speed, run red lights. I walk the walk and talk the talk. whatever the hell that means. I decided to make new friends.

Today my friends are writers, artists, educators, film makers, publishers, journalists. My friends used to be drug dealers, thieves, drug addicts, alcoholics, drunk drivers... I was not a thief, or drug dealer but I dated men who were. I made a huge mistake. I made it about twenty times.

I hope my students read this and understand I'm not judging them. I lost a brother in law when I was fifteen and he was nineteen. He died from a gunshot wound that paralyzed  him and eventually his organs shut down. I lost boyfriends who either committed suicide or drank themselves to death. I survived. Life is hard. But it is so worth the work. 
Yellowstone Lake, Wyoming

Black Bridge above the Arkansas River in Southern Colorado

12 comments:

  1. Powerful blog! I just shared it on my facebook author page.

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    1. Thank you, Debra. Your sharing may have saved someone's life. Your feedback means so much to me. Juli

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  2. Sometimes the "amazing thing" a young woman can do is . . . simply enjoy her life for a change :-)

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    1. That's what I'm trying to do enjoy my life.

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  3. Thank you for this powerful blog, Juliana! These young women are lucky to have you as a teacher and mentor in their lives. I love the photo of you cooking in the kitchen, quintessential mujer, always taking care of and feeding people. Adelante!

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    1. Ah, Linda. That reply made me cry. Your words mean so much to me the novice writer. You are my teacher and mentor and I try to spread what I learn to others. My students are always in my heart. Juli

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  4. There are so many people who could benefit from reading this. Thank you.

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    1. thank you Kathy. I love the Stiletto Gang for the chance it gives me to learn and teach what I've learned. I try to set a good example for my students, but I'm also using my mistakes as a teaching moment for them to do better and make something with their life. Juli

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  5. We never know why things happen the way they do. Be there for them and love them it's what they need now to get them through to the other side. I love you sis!

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  6. Thank you for sharing! Your students are blessed to have you in their lives. Its very brave of you to share your story and I applaud you for that. Keep up the good work. May God continue to bless you.

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