In just a couple of hours it will be July 26, 2010 – Devon’s 10th birthday and the 10th anniversary of one of the most wonderful things that ever happened to me. Devon made me a grandmother and I love him with all my heart. Everyone who ever met Devon loved him. ( Well, with one sad exception, I guess.) Even as an infant, Devon could worm his way into the affections of self-proclaimed baby haters. He wasn’t an easy baby, but that didn’t matter. There was just always something very special about Devon. He was a “Golden Child.”
I know that it sounds like I’m just being a grandma. Every grandchild is a special blessing to his or her grandparents. But, I’m not making up the fact that Devon was special. The college students I worked with went crazy over him. I’d take him to phonathon with me, and they would compete to see who would get to hold him during their next call. As he started to toddle he became even more popular. One of my students was a cheerleading coach, and he would teach him tricks and toss him in the air as he chortled with laughter. Another student lobbied me for weeks trying to get me to “rent” Devon to him, so he could take him to the beach. He was certain Devon would attract all the girls, and I’m sure he would have. He did his whole life – big girls and little girls. There were at least 2 little girls who had firmly made up their minds to marry him when they grew up, and more than one grown up girl who decided to have a child because they enjoyed Devon so very much.
Devon was a very beautiful child, outside and inside both. When he was small people would assume he was a girl because he had such a beautiful face. (Sorry, Dev, but it’s true.) He had big expressive brown eyes and a lovely smile. But I think that what attracted everyone to Devon was the shining light inside. Devon truly did love everyone. He accepted every person for who they were, and liked them for it. He had empathy and compassion, and couldn’t stand to see people hurt or upset. When he heard about illness or sadness he wanted to do something about it, and couldn’t stand to think about death even in a game or song. He decided he didn’t want to play Clue because of Mr. Body, for instance. Nobody ever thinks of Mr. Body in terms of a real person who has been killed. Well, Devon did. He didn’t like playing that way. He didn’t like television shows with death or cruelty in them, even in fun or cartoon form.
I used to sing a song with the boys called “Ye Cannae Shove Yer Granny Off a Bus.” It turns out you can’t shove your Mommy’s mommy off, but you CAN shove your Daddy’s mommy. As the verses progress you send her off for cheese and she falls and skins her knees, etc. In the last verse you send her off for bread and she falls down dead. We had to change that one to “falls and bumps her head” because Dev couldn’t stand to think about Oma that way. And he still didn’t like the song very much. He’d sing along with it because Ian loved it, especially the thick Scottish “Ach, Aye,” but he was much happier when Ian was obcessed with a different song.
Devon was a big Star Wars guy. There’s fighting in the Star Wars stories, which was only ok because Good was fighting hard against Evil and trying to protect people. He had a Star Wars club, and he loved to play light sabres with friends of all ages. If someone hit him in the arm, he’d put it behind his back, and sometimes he would fall over in a very dramatic way when someone got a really good blow in. (Then jump up and chase Ian to get his lightsabre back. Ian was quick). But, he would always assure everyone around him, that none of it was real. Right in the middle of a pretend he would stop and say, “Now, Oma, you know that this is just pretend, right?” He didn’t want anyone to worry.
Devon was destined to make a big difference in the world. Of that I have no doubt. I sometimes feel the great weight of that on my own shoulders. I know that I can’t live the life that Devon would have lived, or do all the things he would have accomplished. But I do feel very strongly that it’s important to carry on his message. He was right. Murder and death shouldn’t be play. They are very real and tragic things, and not ever anything to be taken lightly. I will never “get over” losing my three beautiful boys. I miss them with every breath. Every parent of a murder victim feels that way, and society should know that. It changes lives forever and can never be made right. And murder is not entertainment.
Parents of Murdered Children has a program that is called just that: Murder Is Not Entertainment (M.I.N.E.). They send out periodic alerts asking that everyone register their protests over “murder” events and displays. I always respond and I always forward any alerts that I get. Devon would have done so without hesitation, and he didn’t have the personal connection with murder that I now have, poor little guy. He would have done so because it was the right thing to do, and because he would have instinctively taken to heart the pain that he knew the victims were feeling. He was a better person at 7 than I will ever be, but I have to try. For my golden boy – my brave little white knight.
Oma loves you, Dev, very very much. Monkey.