*Mothering Violence

My friend’s middle son was shot in the head in a McDonald’s parking lot here in Jacksonville, Florida six weeks ago.

His mother and I became friends years ago because she was my hairstylist. When we met, she had two sons. He was the youngest at the time.

I remember picking him up and taking him with the girls and me to wherever we were hanging out that summer’s day, his lanky body shifting in the backseat, his dull eyes peering out of the window. I wonder if he saw his future. Because his mother worked twelve-hour shifts, standing on her feet, making other people beautiful, I thought I’d help by keeping him with me.

I remember how quiet he was. Sometimes he’d speak up and say, “Ms. Kathy, can I have some more” whatever it was we ate. But most times, he was silent.

Years do more than age us; they change us. And he was no different. His mother lamented about the crowd he’d been hanging with. She’d told me recent stories about him being in and out of jail for this or that. He was twenty-one. His life had become less than either of them expected. When the plain-clothes policemen came to her home, at four in the morning, showing a picture, and asking if this was her son, she never expected them to say we found him…dead.

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We found him drunk in the back of a building.

We found him sleep outside of a convenience store.

We found him belligerent behind a restaurant.

That’s what she thought they were going to report.

She didn’t expect for someone to post a picture of her son’s freshly murdered body in the middle of the McDonald’s parking lot, blood spilling out of his head on social media. But since they did, she thought it would be evidence of an apparent crime, from a crime scene, from someone who knew what happened.

She thought they’d be able to find something from the restaurant’s surveillance camera. But the car was too dark, with Florida tinted windows beyond traditional codes. This too is evidence but not enough to convict anyone for the murder of her child.

Instead, she’s waiting. Waiting by her blinds because she’s paranoid. Waiting for sleep because his recent memory haunts her. Waiting with stapled flyers posted to lamppost where he used to loiter. Waiting for her youngest son, who is barely six to grow up and become a different version of his older brother, proving that she wasn’t bad at single parenting.

This, my friends, is how we mother violence in America.

*Written for my friend, but shared for National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

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66 thoughts on “*Mothering Violence

  1. For society to not see a life as precious as a mother sees her child’s life is heart breaking. To be a mother of a black son in america is unimaginably painful. So sorry your friend has gone through this and so sorry other mother’s of black sons have to live with the fear of the violence that is enabled by the government and sometimes even perpetrated by their agencies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your condolences Mek! Institutionalized racism is an awful thing because it reaches far beyond job preference, etc. (as I know you know). It’s just even more horrible when something like this comes closer to you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So sorry for the loss, so sorry your friend blames herself, while she did the best she knows how too. So sorry violence is increasing. So sorry for the ignorant neighbors around our globe. So impressed by your courage to right about it, dear Katherin.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your condolences Patty. This is absolutely what I told her about blaming herself. All moms do whatever they can. Period. The US is the worst when it comes to this topic. Thanks for your kind words.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As horrific and sad as it is in the US, did you know that in the Philippines, everyone, EVERYONE is allowed to kill any neighbor in case of SUSPICION, that neighbor is a drugs user ?!?!

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  3. That story hit me right in the gut. I am so relieved you use your voice and your talent for storytelling to address this culture of violence in your country. I feel sorry for your friend. I feel sorry for you. I feel sorry for your country. So rich, but so poor.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My sister and I were just talking about a relative whose son was shot a few months back in Virginia, hanging out with his “buddies”. We both were saying that his mother seems to be in shock still, though she gets up, goes to work, still posts and says hi to family. We follow her example, we don’t stress the fact that he is no longer here. We let her know that we are here for her through our on line connections and occasional phone calls. But it seems odd that she hasn’t fallen apart. Mothers can have a great strength about them, is what me and my sister decided.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear you Elva! I really cannot imagine what I’d do if anything like this happened to one of my daughters. I would definitely have fallen apart by now. I’m sure your support means a great deal to her and will more than likely be necessary at some point.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Miss Kathy, that’s my mother too. The first sentence punched me in the chest. Thank you for writing this. I want to say I’m sorry for your loss, for your friends loss but it’s so much more than that. How do we restore Mothering Love?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your mother’s name is the same as mine?

      I hope this doesn’t sound horrible, but I’m glad. Sometimes words, no matter how hard you try to put them together, cannot convey the same emotion as what’s going on, you know? Anywho, you’re welcome. Thanks for reading, really. I honestly think we have to start seeing every loss as all of our loss.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. If there was a sad button, I’d have pushed it. It doesn’t feel right to hit like. I’m so sad for your friend. I cannot even imagine losing a child, let alone to violence. I hope she is holding up okay. I think the one thing missing in this latest gun control movement is the fact that people, young people, are killed every day by guns, whether they are shot or kill themselves. Once that trigger is pulled, there is no turning back, no chance to calm down and take a breath and make a better decision. It’s final. Such a waste of a life. I’m so sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kim. I understand exactly what you mean. I agree and I think we need to focus on the total number, instead of continuing to separate it. Once people begin to see just how many people die in the US solely because of guns, then maybe it’ll click.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I feel like there are just some segments of the population that don’t care, sadly. Until, of course, it happens to one of their loved ones. If only we could see all the children as our own 😦

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I am sorry for the loss –for your friend, for you, and mostly for the young man. I live in South Florida, not that it matters any more where we live. Until something is done to change the gun laws, nothing is going to change. I think our new hope–at least it’s my new hope–is the young generation that is taking a stand. We have to support them if we want to have a better world.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Kathy, I sit here in shock for you all … your poor friend who must be numb with grief, loss. It must be unbearable for her, yet know she has her younger son. To love, care and try to protect. There must be an overwhelming sense of helplessness. I feel such sadness for you all … you can but be there for your friend, her family. It must have been hard to share this event here, Kathy … but it brings home the destruction and devastation caused by gun violence. Hugs xx

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It is absolutely appalling how much violence is leading to the death of so many young people, and young adults too. I’m so sorry for your friend and what she has gone through, and what her other child will also experience after his brother was ripped from the world. To not be able to bring his killer to ‘justice’ and get a conviction must also be beyond gut-wrenching.x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is appalling. Thanks for your condolences for her. Also, I’ve thought about her youngest son a lot. You never know how children process things until later in life, so hopefully, it manifests something motivational and beautiful within him.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. This brought on a real jumble of emotions, KE. I’m sad for your friend and her loss, angry at the guilty party, less than hopeful that justice will be served. The mental stress of being a black male teen in America is heavy enough to push a good kid down the wrong path. You said he was well-behaved, quiet, rarely asked you for anything, but even then, “his lanky body (was) shifting in the backseat, his dull eyes peering out of the window,” subtle indicators of internalized discomfort and despair. Is it any wonder he fell in with a bad crowd and got into trouble? We as a society have got to do better, to let go of our prejudices, see each person as an individual, expect better and give people the encouragement and tools they need to live up to that. Thanks for sharing this. Love and prayers to you, the young man, and his family. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Joan, it’s funny that you mention being a black male teen because I hadn’t mentioned his race (and I don’t take offense to your stating it); it’s just interesting. Also, I agree that we do have to do better. I think one way is to begin to see violence as violence, whether it is black, gangs, school, terrorism, or whatever. Once we begin to see the numbers, then it should be clear that we are a violent country that has to change.

      Thanks for your love and prayers. I do hope my friend finds peace.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. My bad for assuming, KE. You said it was your hairstylist’s son. Most of us go to a hairstylist of the same race, one who understands our particular hair challenges. I tend to choose curly-haired white stylists… others want to hit my mop with a blow dryer and frizz it all to hell. The way you described his demeanor in the car was another clue. Or maybe that could be any teenager, LOL. Prejudicially expecting the worst undermines a kid’s self-confidence and often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The violence has got to stop, but it won’t, until we regard each other as equals. You can’t legislate things like that, it requires a change of heart, both personally and societally. Thanks for being gentle in pointing out my blind spot. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. No prob Joan! I just thought it was interesting. But thank you for pointing out the areas that led you to the assumption. I mean you’re right lol but I just thought it was interesting. Not to belabor the point, but from a literary stance, a book club I used to attend hated it when writers would use color references to show readers the person was black, etc. they thought there were other more creative ways to do this. Guess they were right 😉 thanks again for your thoughtful comments.

        Liked by 2 people

  11. Oh, I’m so, so sorry for your friends loss, for your loss, for the loss of another young life. I’m just so sad to hear this happened and I’m so glad you shared. What a sad, sad, loss. What a tragedy!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I hadn’t checked this particular email in such a long time. I know that I have been missing some powerful stories, but I am glad that I didn’t miss this one Kathy. Thank you for telling her story and part of his. I hurt for her and for too many other lost sons and their mothers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Heeey Roberta! You probably have 5, 209 emails from this blog lol Thanks for reading. I felt compelled to, and when I found out there was an actual day for awareness, I knew I had to post it. We have to continue to feel if there’s going to be any change, I think. Thanks again for reading and sharing.

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  13. “Mothering” violence. Such a double entendre. The tragedy of loss experienced by too many mothers, and the way our society gives birth to and nurtures and raises violence to its grotesque maturity.
    What a loss for this family and for our town.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. A heartbreaking story that needs to be shared. We can not give up the fight against gun violence. Together we must unite and push politicians to create safer gun laws. We need to protect America ‘s children.

    Liked by 1 person

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