When I first wrote about Dr. Petit, the man whose wife and two daughters were raped, burned, and murdered in the Chesire Home Invasion case, I compared him to Ahab in "Moby Dick." I thought that Dr. Petit had an unreasonable, almost neurotic, obsession with the idea of killing the two men who destroyed his entire family and burned his home to the ground. But, as I related in the blog post about the case, I came to a different understanding of the man when I paid a visit to the property where the house once stood and walked through Michaela's Garden, the Japanese garden which Dr. Petit named after his younger daughter.
In that blog post, which can be found at this link, http://wwwbobs-blog.blogspot.com/2011/09/call-him-ahab-except-in-michaelas.html , I reported that Petit family members were absolutely certain that Dr. Petit would never be able to love again, that the criminal prosecution and the desire for the execution of the murderers would remain the focus of his life forever.
At the end of that blog post, I expressed the hope that Dr. Petit, like the Job of the Jewish bible (Old Testament), would be able to turn his focus from his desire that the murderers be killed to a desire to live again, find love, and even create a new family. Here's what I wrote at that time.
"Whatever the Petit clan feels now, in the heat and passion of the trial, it is my fervent, daily prayer that Bill Petit one day searches for, and finds, True Love again. He deserves no less.
I understand the passion with which Bill's family says these things, and I just don’t have it in my heart to remind them that about the story of that guy from Ur, wherever That place is, whom the biblical philosopher called Job.
In the Jewish bible, the story goes, Satan murders two of Job’s children, with God's explicit permission to do such things to Job, in a vain attempt to shake Job’s faith in God, to rock and dislodge Job's love of life. In the end, once God reminds Job that his problems are not the central focus of all of Life, of Existence, Job moves on, finds love again in his relationship with his wife, and has two more children. He does not get back his two murdered kids, but he does get two more new children to love, or so the biblical writers tell this arch-typical story.
I hope Bill Petit can reenact the Job story in his own life, once these murder cases are over."
Well, contrary to what some of Dr. Petit's family thought, he now HAS found love in his life once again. This time, the god of Love has appeared in the form of a woman 21 years younger than Dr. Petit, who is 55. His new love is a Hartford Courant photographer, Christine Paluf, age 34. She is blonde, beautiful, radiant. They apparently have been dating since at least last summer, just before the commencement of the second murder trial, the one I reported on in "Bobs blog," State of Connecticut vs. Joshus Komisarjevsky. The Harftord Courant did an article about the relationship just last week. Here's the link to the January 4, 2012 story: http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-petit-engaged-0105-20120104,0,6260318.story
The Courant article reports that Ms. Paluf attended the trial. I recall seeing her there and watched Dr. Petit and her talk occasionally during recesses in the trial. She sat a few rows behind Dr. Petit and his immediate relatives. It was obvious that she was attractive and he enjoyed interacting with her. It was not obvious that they were "an item," although I thought to myself at the time, wouldn't it be nice if he eventually finds somebody like that young woman, marries her, and has children and a new family with her.
So, Dr. Petit is not Ahab, the obsessed sea captain in Melville's "Moby Dick." He is Job. The man whom God allowed Satan to test. Like Dr. Petit, Job went through a long period of intense suffering but eventually came to the other side of despair and again found love in his heart. In Job's case, he did not lose his wife, but he did, like Dr. Petit, lose two of his children. And so the Epilogue of Job says that God restored Job's life. And so Dr. Petit, with God's help, will restore his life. The wife and children Dr. Petit loved with all his heart and soul cannot be replaced, but those feelings he's now transferred to his new love, Christine Paluf, and he will transfer those feelings to whatever children God blesses the couple with, should they be so lucky, so graced.
The only question I have is this. If the jury which gave Joshua Komisarjevsky the death penalty had known that Dr. Petit was actively engaged in changing his life, his past misfortune, with Christine Paluf, would the jury have thought even harder than they did about whether Joshua Komisarjevsky should also be given a new chance at life? And another question then rears its ugly head: did Dr. Petit deliberately conceal from the jury, by not sitting with Christine Paluf in the courtroom, by not showing the jury that he was cutting his (understandably) revengeful heart some slack by turning away from hate and back to love? Was Dr. Petit carrying out a strategy of witholding from the jury a significant fact about his own life which a jury maybe, just maybe, would have used as the reason to save Joshua Komisarjevsky's life? If so, is Dr. Petit somewhat less blameless than most of us thought, before we read of his relationship with Christine Paluf? That fact would have made a difference to me, had I been sitting on that jury.