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Monday, March 1, 2010

Death Watch Journal for Kevin Varga - DAY 19

Today’s date is March 1st 2010, the only reason I even mention the date is to make a point about the indomitability of the human spirit. Tomorrow, a man is going to be murdered by the state of Texas, his name is Michael Sigala. On an occasion such as this it would seem that the atmosphere here would be a somber one, but that is not the case. These men are laughing and remembering the good times they have shared. I too have shared some of the times I remember with Sleepy (as he is known to us that know him). We make bonds here that are able to transcend racial and class lines. We are not unlike soldiers who have seen combat and come out alive. Yes there are horrific crimes that have been committed by men on the row. I do not wish to overlook these crimes and certainly not lose sight of the fact that the victims in each crime did not deserve their fate, but should we now be allowed to be murdered too? Yes the crimes are horrific and we deserve prison, but that is not the point that I wish you to see, tonight when you sit around your dinner table look at the members of your family and suppose one of them will be dead in less than 24 hours, do you think you could summon smiles and laughter? Would you instead break down into tears? Yes, death is a matter of sorrow, but for some reason we here, where death is the matter of the course, we instead look upon the good rather than the bad.

There are three more murders planned for the month of March. I have known many men that have been murdered since I came to death row, but this death is closer to me since I am days away from my own death. Each of us must face the uncertainty of death, it is how we choose to deal with it that shows the indominable spirit. I have been thinking all day today of the men who have sat in this cell to look into the abyss. Some of them were friends of mine. The one who stands prominent on that list is Clifford Kimmel aka “Woody”. I met Woody days after coming to death row and we soon became friends. I considered him like a brother. His is the ONLY picture of another inmate that I have in my possession. He was executed and a small part of me died with him. Since coming to death watch I got out Woody’s picture and hung it on my wall to remember him better. He is smiling with his wife Becky, whom he married while on death row. We can and do find love even under these conditions, Woody’s character was one what would amaze many who did not know him. Any who knew him would have said that he was a kind and caring person who would give the shirt off his back to someone in need. His downfall however was drugs, he allowed drugs to cloud his mind until he killed to possess them. That is a common occurrence, sad as that is, but once he cleaned his system of those poisons he regretted what he had done. He admitted to his crime unlike many here who claim their innocence even in the face of the evidence against them. Woody showed me that a man can commit a horrible crime and then come to regret his actions. If a man such as that regrets, shouldn’t he have been given a chance to be redeemed by society? Did he fail them or did society turn its back upon him? I do not have the wisdom to answer that question. Who among us does?

I was not able to talk to Woody as I am able to Sleepy on the eve of his murder. I consider Sleepy a friend and hope him a life after this one, whatever that may be. There are, counting myself, ten men left after tomorrow on death watch, we have become a close knit little community due to the shared experience of looking into the abyss, was it not Dante who said “When you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back”? Well here I am staring and I have not felt anything staring back, yet. I feel though that as long as I am able to produce a smile then I have beat the reaper and even in my own death I will find solace and maybe even a modicum of peace.

So now I must leave you to whatever pleasure you are able to enjoy today, but please remember that here we fight not only to survive but more importantly to live.

Thank you every one of you who has taken your time to maybe give me a chance at redemption.

73 days to go.

Kevin Varga 999368
Polunsky Unit
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston, TX 77351

© Copyright 2010 by Kevin Varga and Thomas Bartlett Whitaker. All rights reserved.

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