There was a big party on my block last night. Cars were packed in along the narrow cul-de-sac like sardines. Loud music made the very air throb with a Latin beat. I noticed it when I pulled into the driveway, but it didn’t really bother me. I am oblivious when I am reading or on the computer, and I don’t sleep much anymore anyhow.
I DID notice when a loud fight broke out right in front of my house with name calling, slammed car doors and squeeling tires. Soon the police were there flicking the siren on and off to herd people to their cars. They were there for quite some time. When I glanced out I could still see the police car with the motor running, and officers in the street with flashlights. I freaked out. Really, it literally freaked me out.
All I could think of as the partygoers took their time getting into their cars, stopping in groups to chat, was of the many families that I have met who lost their child in just this kind of circumstance: A fight breaks out at a party. Someone peels off in their car in a rage. They come back later with a knife or a gun, and another family joins our “club that no one wants to be in.” Usually the original target had already gone home, and an innocent partygoer gets caught in crossfire or mistaken in the red haze and alcohol fumes for someone else.
I am happy to say that no one was murdered on my block last night, although one young man was hit in the mouth with a brick. I can say that with confidence, because I lay awake all night listening with dread – waiting for the shoe to drop. It’s not something that would even have occurred to me before my three beautiful boys were murdered.
Murder changes you forever and in ways you can’t predict or prepare yourself for. My happy bubble of denial is gone forever. I know now that parties are dangerous. Walking down the street is dangerous. Driving along the road is dangerous. It’s even dangerous to go to sleep in your own bed. Murder can happen in any circumstance, any neighborhood, any block. It happens to people just like me. And it happens to people just like you. You can close your eyes, cling to your illusions of safety, and isolate the victims of tragedy so that you don’t have to be reminded of that fact. That won’t make the big ugly monster looming in the corner of the room go away. I’ve tried. Monkey