This is February and Cathy is alive. In twenty more days it will be March, and she will be alive all through March. But then April comes, and if the state of Texas and the courts have their way Cathy Henderson is not going to live past April 18th.
That is the date of her scheduled killing in the nation’s busiest killing chamber. They’ll take her around 5:30 in the evening to insert the IV tubes. As her spiritual advisor I’ll be allowed one last visit with her around 4:30 for just a half hour or so. Then the state-hired chaplain takes over. No matter that I know her, that I love her, care about her life, respect her life, have fought for her to live, and want to be with her during every minute of her last hours on this earth. No matter. In Texas’ cold protocol of death any chaplain will do. Get in there and do your God-thing. Get her ready to meet her Maker. We want her to have every spiritual benefit before we carry out the punishment. We’re not heathens. We don’t relish this death. Just doing our job, our duty. We respect that she has an immortal soul.
These words and the mentality they represent - using religion to bless the killing ritual - can be found in wardens’ mouths almost word for word in Dead Man Walking and The Death of Innocents.
It’s a weird, impossible task, counting the days toward Cathy’s death. In her last letter she wrote in unmistakable terms, “I’m absolutely not afraid of dying, but I’m worried about the poisons they’re going to inject into me.”
Cathy’s big focus now is on the suffering of her children, especially her youngest 17-year-old daughter. The poor kid is having a tough time concentrating in school, is fighting depression. Who can get their mind around such a bizarre reality, that the state is fully intent on killing this young woman’s mother? You’re going to kill my mother? And you’re telling me this is legal and good for society? Killing my mother?
I do not accept that Cathy is going to die. Her case sits now at this very moment in the hands of the Supreme Court. We pray, we hope, we wait. Our dedicated pro bono lawyer, George Cumming, the Man of the Hour, after consulting widely has put forth the most skilled arguments he knows to plead justice for Cathy before the high court. In the hope that the court will approve the petition, the firm has already hired an investigator and a neurological expert to do the thorough work that should have been done for Cathy in preparation for her original trial.
We’re praying for a miracle. The letters of love, of support and compassion have been pouring in – 1,550 of them and counting. This love avalanche pouring over Cathy, this is in no small way a miracle. Spread the word about Cathy. Invite people to the web page. Write to her. Send her beautiful scenes from nature.
And write to the suffering parents, the Baugh family, who are going through their own agonizing hell of loss of their three-month-old son. Pray for them. Surround them with love and compassion.
They all need it.