Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Eagle Butte
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Letter to the Editor…

Letter from Mersedes Rough Surface to Nicholas Scherr

Dear Mr. Scherr,

I suppose in our situation formalities aren’t really required, however, if there is anything that I have learned from my mother, it’s to kill those who have wronged me with kindness. Sometimes I can’t always promise this to her, and in this situation I have to say I don’t really want to, but this is most likely going to be read by the public so I can’t say as much as I would like to. I can, however, say that I think about you a lot which I like to think isn’t weird. I wonder if other people who have also been in my situation think about their family member’s killers. I’d suppose so — I’m sure my dad thinks about you too. My name is Mersedes Marie Rough Surface; I’m a 16-year-old sophomore with a big heart, curious brain, and a brutally-honest potty-mouth. I’m also the first grandchild of Candace Rough Surface; or as I have known her all my life: Grandma Candy.

I grew up in Timber Lake, South Dakota with my mother Colleen and my brother Aidan, the second grandchild of Candice. My father, Homer, wasn’t constantly present like most fathers should be in their children’s lives. I suppose that’s what happens when you’re raised without parents: you never learn the discipline needed to become an adult. I’m an average student in school and was recently elected as part of the student council for the 2019-2020 Junior Class. I like reading, writing, and singing; I also hope to one day be either an English teacher or librarian for the Timber Lake School.

See, I never knew where I got all of these uncanny traits from — almost everyone I know in my family hates reading and writing. They scoff and roll their eyes at the idea of writing while I gleam with stars in my eyes at the word. I swoon in admiration at Jane Austen’s character Mr. Darcy in her lovely book, Pride in Prejudice, while my mother attempts to catch my attention in our local grocery store. I understand that maybe you don’t care about my hobbies and who I am, but I hope you do understand that this is something my grandmother would have cared about.

I have a theory: If my grandmother would have been present during my father’s life, then maybe he would be more present as I’m growing up. I’ve always acted older than I really am, and despite my age there are a lot more thoughts that run around in my head than what I’m going to wear at school the next day or what I should do to catch my crush’s attention. So, it wasn’t hard to figure out that my dad has suffered through depression his whole life. It also wasn’t hard to figure out that alcohol was his solace throughout those rough times. Because of your actions, my father had to grow up without parents to comfort him, and in return, I had to watch my mom bust her ass every day trying to provide for my brother and me. I’ve had a rough life growing up with one parent to confide in, not that my mother hasn’t done a great job raising me, but maybe I would feel more like a person and less like an object of pity when I tell people that I only have one parent. I can only imagine my father’s life growing up: having no one to come to his basketball games, his school concerts, or to his other school activities. Having no one to cheer him on or cheer him up when he felt like he couldn’t go on anymore must have took a toll on him. This is why I don’t blame him for any of my problems or how I grew up; it isn’t his fault he doesn’t know how to parent — it’s yours. You took the one person that could have cheered him on, cheered him up, attended his school activities and taught him how to be a better person away from him. You caused so much damage and destruction in my father and I’s life it’s really hard not to hate you.

I really couldn’t even imagine what could have been going through your head when you raped and slaughtered my grandmother. She was a person with dreams, aspirations, and goals. Thanks to you, my dad never got the pleasure of appreciating the gentle touch of a mother, or the uplifting words she could’ve spoke. I never got to hear stories of her life growing up in Kennel. Thanks to you, I never got to see her true smile, the one that lights up a person’s face when they’re genuinely amused — no picture could ever capture that beauty. I’ll never know what physical traits I developed from her; I’ll never know if she sang songs with passion and fire in her heart the way I try to. Maybe she enjoyed dancing and theatre and painting, but I’ll never know her. I could always seek stories about her from her family members but I’ll never experience her, herself. I’ll never know what her favorite color is, her favorite memory, her favorite song, or what she smelled like. I’ll never know her at all.

I could really be an asshole like many people are really wishing for me to be right now, however, like the bible says in Proverbs 22:8, “Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of his fury will fail.”

Mersedes Marie Rough Surface