17 Days

“Some of you only thought of death row as something that happens to the worst of the worst. To the other person. I once thought that, too, until I woke up in this place on April 6th 2002, then reality sunk in. The insanity of my new home and existence took control of me and I fight daily to stay as much a human being as possible. But most call us animals, not to have any type of feelings or compassion. Well that’s wrong and I’ll show that in these blogs.”

This was what Mark Stroman’s wrote on August 1st 2008, almost 3 years before his scheduled execution on July 20, 2011. And this is what he wrote on June 19th, 2011 a month before his scheduled execution:

Waiting patiently, looking deep within myself… I’m honored and this ride of death has truly changed me and I believe its part of the Master’s plan. Thank you all”.

As someone who was instrumental in initiating Mark ‘s blog, has been requested by him to witness his execution and plans to complete a film that features Mark and his victims, this  “death ride “ has been intensely personal for me too.  My journey did not begin with Mark’s first blog but with the first time I interviewed Mark’s victims and then Mark himself in  early 2004, more than 9 years before his scheduled execution.

As Mark’s execution is getting closer, I decided to begin my own blog, trying to recall for myself as well as for others the past nine years.  I am writing this blog on July 3 st  , seventeen days  before Mark’s scheduled execution.

Nothing in the past nine years prepared me for the campaign that Rais, Mark’s only surviving victim, began, in early June, to try to save Mark’s life.  I might have hoped for , but never anticipated the depth of the changes that Mark has undergone. I am still stunned by the efforts of so many people I never knew who work tirelessly to try to fight for Mark’s life.  Finally, I never imagined the diversity of the group of friends who are converging on Livingstone, Texas to be with Mark in his last days and to witness his execution.

I never succeeded to explain to myself and to others why I committed myself, and so full heartedly, more than nine years ago, to accompany Mark in his journey -“ the ride of death”, as he calls it. But I do know that all those who are trying to save Mark’s life or console him in his last days must have felt a similar pull from this tragedy.

In the coming blogs and through interviewing many of the people who are accompanying Mark in what could become the last leg of his journey, I hope to gain an insight into these forces that I can not fully explain or understand.

Ilan

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