It's the voyeuristic murder case that has it all....the state of South Africa vs. Oscar Pistorius, accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp rather than, as he claims, shooting her in self-defence error. Renowned, gold medal-winning Paralympians, even famously volatile ones, are not meant to go round killing their model girlfriends through locked doors in the dead of night...models, especially ones with enviable Instagrams, celebrity athlete boyfriends and thousands of Twitter followers, are not meant to be shot by said boyfriends whilst ostensibly having a wee.
I have become slightly obsessed with Reeva Steenkamp. Which means that I've been following the trial pretty closely. In many ways, the protracted court process hardly matters - the sentence, for Steenkamp and her loved ones, is already dealt. One minute a golden girl, brimming with happiness, darling of Instagram and Twitter and the SA cool kids' social scene, the next - the deceased.
Reduced to the sum of her gunshot wounds, contents of stomach at point of death, amount of urine in bladder at same (a teaspoon, FYI, and CSI - this corroborates the idea that she was in the bathroom for its usual purpose), and texts read out posthumously in court. "I am scared of you sometimes" she says in one, and the world goes into a frenzy (that proves it, he killed her on purpose!)
Reeva is gone - but her social media profiles live on. Which in part is what makes this case so compelling. You can log into Twitter and see her last, sweetly hopeful posts regarding Valentine's Day 2013, in the early hours of which she became 'the deceased' - "May it be blessed!" she tweets. You can check out her Instagram for an account of the year leading up to her death, much of it, by the looks of things, spent at fabulous parties with fabulous people wearing fabulous clothes. You can see the very view of the sky she contemplated with a friend, just days before her life ended: http://instagram.com/p/VeRGH5QPZm/
Reduced to the subject of endless online speculation, from the bitter Twitter trolls to the pages set up in her memory, peppered with pictures of her lovely face, profound-sounding quotes, and of course the now-ubiquitous video clip from her reality show Tropika Island of Treasure - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENvT_Go7GcY - "I think (...) not just your journey in life but the way that you go out and make your exit is so important - you either made an impact in a positive and negative way"...all contribute to the impact of her being gone, irretrievably...she gets a voice, albeit in the most tragic way possible.
I never finished this post. About to restart this blog, I found it in my drafts. Three years. I still read about Reeva - force of habit, whenever there is a development I pore over reports. But the facts can't be changed, and that's the thing about loss - it continues, irrevocable, even as we try to move on. My dad died young, in 1980 - I still feel his loss every day. The grandkids she will never have, the friends who will never meet another like her, and of course her shattered parents - they are the ones with the life sentence, not Oscar Pistorius.