I must confess…it is a little strange to tell your friends what is going on in your life and hear “Yeah, I read about that online…” Well, there are plenty of news articles about my husband on the internet now, and I have read most of them, yet all of them seem to lack emotion. And now, it’s my turn. This is my news article about the now infamous Wesley Swank…
On the 30th of October, in 1986, a little boy was born into a family of eight (at the given time), which consisted of a mother, a father, three brothers,
two sisters, and of course him: the newest addition. That little boy was given the name Wesley Elijah Swank. There is not much more I can say about his birth day, for my first memory of him did not occur until he was about seven years old.
It was a sunny morning, and I was in a booster car seat on the passenger side of my dad’s little white Mazda truck. I can hardly tell you if I even knew how to put a sentence together at that time, though I will say I doubt it. Looking out the windshield of the vehicle, I had a pretty good view of a wide range of earth – or at least according to my three-year-old eyes – including and especially the house we were parked right in front of. At my eleven o’ clock, I could see my father speaking to a man named Richard in the doorway of that sided, yellow house. I later found out that my dad was what they called his “home teacher.” But, directly in front of me was a much funner sight. The most adorable little boy, though noticeably older than I, was standing front and center in what I presumed to be their living room. He seemed to stare at me in awe, and I instinctively returned the gaze. Within immeasurable moments, he started to wave at me in the most graceful and respectful manner. Of course, I immediately followed with the same gesture. It was at that moment that we both made an eternal connection.
It seemed, growing up, that there was always far too much time passing between one visit to the Swank house and the next, but I suppose it all worked out just as it was supposed to. Regardless of the four year age gap between the two of us, each time our families would reunite it was always Wesley and I that played together. Sure he had my older sisters to choose from, as they were closer in age to him, and out of his fifteen siblings I could have easily chosen differently as well. Once again, it just worked out the way it was supposed to. (Funny how that always seems to be the theme in my life.) How else could I explain the fact that my family moved out of the state for our first time, since I had been a part of it, within Wesley’s nineteenth year of age? The Lord knew he was going to make some mistakes, and that I was going to make plenty of my own as well. We later concluded it was best that neither of us were in each others’ lives, even remotely, during those rebellious years. But, little did I know he was going to come into my life again.
About eight years had passed since the last Cortés/Swank reunion in 2005, and I had well moved on from what I perceived to be a childhood crush – I thought he had too. It did not take long at all for the two of us to realize how much we enjoyed each others’ company as adults, so much that we were married within a few months of a surprise visit where a couple of my family members and I were found in his mother’s house. I did not expect him to show up that day, nor did I foresee him asking me on a date. Interesting how life sometimes goes in a completely different direction than you expect it to.
I was so grateful to be married to the one person that played a major part in one of my very first childhood memories – one that is spiritually engraved on me. Of course, he was ecstatic about the union as well, for he wasted no time in his wooing. Unfortunately, he had done little in his life to heal from the still oozing wounds born from his childhood, though he had told me differently. He hid them quite well during our Skyping courtship, but I suppose such gaping lacerations could not be disguised when I began spending longer hours with him. They were enormous!
I tried to love him, but I was incapable. I did not realize how big my own wounds still were. I tried to understand him, but he did not allow it. I tried
not to criticize, but I was too resentful. I now understand, love, and pray for him more than ever before. I can try to explain it in the best way possible at another time, but for now I will just say that prayer truly does work miracles. What is not in the news is that the man who murdered Danny Yarbrough had a family. It may have been small and budding, but he was trying. He tried his best to do things the right way (I can only imagine how difficult it must be to understand right from wrong in his shoes). He obviously failed, for his selfish act left his family – us – behind. But in doing so, it opened one person’s eyes that needed to be opened the way they did: mine. And in turn, I choose to pay it forward.
I had no idea mental illness was so real. I had no idea such treacherous actions towards a growing child could literally change the regulations of his or her brain. None the less, I truly do pain for those individuals that Yarbrough left behind; those who loved him so much. No matter what, such a forced loss as that was not okay. I pray for them as I pray for the one who did the unspeakable. I know my Father hears my prayers, and I know that the perpetrator – my husband – is exactly where he needs to be. Yes, I love him unconditionally. Indeed I have never before had this exact connection with him or anyone else, and that is why I pray for him so fervently – that is why I pray he remains imprisoned. Perhaps the one place he can heal – the one place he cannot splatter any more blood on his garments – is the one place he never wanted to reside.
There are many of us who do not change our destructive ways until we hit our rock bottom. I know I didn’t. And perhaps that is why I can better make light out of this ugly situation. It is heartbreaking, to say the absolute very least, that a life had to be sacrificed for one man to have a better opportunity to change, but I can only imagine how many more lives might have been lost if he was not captured after the first. The saddest part about it all is that there was more than one life sacrificed in all this, not physically, but spiritually.
That little boy, Wesley Swank, died within too few years after he was born. I did not grow up in the same household as he and his siblings, so I cannot
hold the same opinions some of them do in regards to “rising above or sinking.” But I can tell you this: I knew that man spiritually before I knew him physically. And there is one conclusion, among several, that I have come to through all this: children are precious beings who deserve unconditional love, and it is up to the parents to freely give that love to them. There are hundreds, if not thousands of variables that make up our character. Just because one child may come out of abuse alive (spiritually) doesn’t mean they all will. And heaven help the parent, or parents, that kill that child’s spirit. Heaven help the parent who doesn’t love. Heaven help the parent who doesn’t care – who hits; who kicks; who screams; who beats; who hates. If you are a parent, or even plan on becoming one sometime in your future, and you can even think about something that you ought to do better, change it now. I doubt Wesley’s parents envisioned doing all that they did to their children – which carried pains into many others’ lives because of their ruthless actions – at the birth of their first child. Mental illness (bipolar, depression, PTSD, et cetera), as well as any other infirmity of mind or spirit (as there are many), is a well-lubricated slippery slope. There is help out there. If you don’t stop it, who knows how many generations it will take for someone else too, and that is way…too…late. It needs to start with you.