Two teen boys were found shot (and later died) a week ago Sunday night here in Alamogordo. The news scared me because my son (16) likes to walk and skate with his friend at night. When I told him I was scared for him his explanation for why I shouldn't worry ran along the lines that he had heard from others that these two were involved in a bad drug deal.That was supposed to make me feel better because in his mind, he wasn't involved in any activity that should bring him to that end. (Note: This was my son's rendition of "word on the street" and should not be taken as any sort of factual knowledge.) For a moment I admit I felt better-- two teens died, but their actions probably brought it on and my kids are safe because they aren't dealing drugs. But immediately I was ashamed. Where did my son get the information? It could be completely wrong. And does it matter? Somewhere mothers are grieving.
We all have our stories as mothers and if we have multiple children it is a different story for each child. A unique pregnancy, a unique delivery, a unique first moment of gazing into our baby's eyes. We have memories of big events such as the first smile, first steps, first words, and small moments that we cherish: the smell of their hair, their tiny toes, the way they laugh.
Each child is someone special. And each has his or her own story as they grow. Whatever brings them to the moment when it ends so tragically was not likely what they had planned for themselves. It isn't to absolve anyone of responsibility for their own lives, but most of us have done some pretty stupid things, made errors of judgement that we can assuredly say we were darn lucky didn't turn out with results worse than what we got.
When I think of the mothers of these children and others who have been perpetrators of school shootings, victims or perpetrators of drug deals gone bad, gang activities, I feel so sad. There may be mothers who didn't give a damn (and then how can you not feel compassion for the child), but there are plenty more who give it their all and sacrifice so much only to hear their child at some point in his/her life was involved in something horrific. Whatever the reason, these mothers have the pain of the loss of their child. And if it is discovered that they did something wrong, others may react as I stupidly did at first. And the mother is left grieving alone.
I hope I never think again, "their actions brought it on," in any way. I don't know what their lives were like. I don't know what brought them to that moment where everything ended so abruptly, so sadly. I didn't live their life, and I have no right to judge.
I may not be able to be my brother's keeper before he has been involved in something horrific that brings him to my attention. But I can keep his memory untainted by my opinions developed by what the media (or my son) tells me. I can remember he was someone's little one at one time, and to that mother, her loss is at least as great as anyone else's impacted by his actions. I hope I can have the intelligence to not try to make myself feel better by blaming, and instead lend my compassion and heartfelt love for all involved.
The laughter, the hopes, the dreams, the lives of two boys not much older than my own have ended. And somewhere mothers are grieving. And I am grieving with them.
After I had written this and posted it, I found on Facebook through a friend's posting, the mother of one of these children. On her page, she had written of her son's 18th birthday and, as a mom, I could feel her love and concern for him as he made his way in the world.
Here is her request for her son's funeral...