Remembering My Boys
When I thought about the Day of Remembrance my initial thought was, “but I remember my boys every day.” We all do, I’m sure. But then I thought that there are many kinds of remembering. Remembering can be bitter or it can be sweet. I’ve come to the point where I want the sweet and not the painful, but it’s hard to get to that place, isn’t it? There are so many outside influences working against that when you have lost a loved one to murder.
After the first shock of grief had started to wear off, I noticed that many of the people around me didn’t seem to want me to remember my boys at all. Any time I brought them up, even if it was an innocent comment like, ”Oh, Devon would like that,” was met with an abrupt change of subject. Perhaps they were afraid of the direction the conversation was going in, or honestly thought they were heading off pain. The thing is, it is much more painful to feel that others want to forget about your loved ones than it is to remember them. Neal, Devon and Ian did exist and they were an important part of my life. It’s natural to talk about them, not ghoulish or unhealthy. They are still just as real to me as they always were and I don’t want their last moments in this life to cancel out everything that they were.
The other big road block to sweet remembrance is the legal process. Ours has now lasted for four years, and a second penalty phase took place this summer. I had hoped that when I spoke with you today that part of things would be behind me, as the sentencing was scheduled for last Friday. Unfortunately, it has been postponed again until mid-December. I want so much to get this part over and done with so that I don’t have to dwell all the time on August 7-8, 2007.
Sitting in court you are forced into that unpleasant memory over and over again. It’s unimaginably stressful. I don’t want to constantly be thinking about the gruesome details of my son’s murder. I don’t want to worry about how much my little grandsons were aware of what their mother was doing. Those are the memories that keep me up at night or send me to cry in the shower, and it’s not how they deserve to be remembered. I want to remember Neal’s laugh and his love for history and science. I want to remember the feel of Devon’s arms around my neck and hear his whispered “I love you, Oma.” And on Ian’s 8th birthday this Tuesday I want to remember his love of balloons and the pink Power Ranger, and recall how very much he liked birthday cake. Those are the memories I want to wrap around myself like a blanket and carry with me into the world. I deserve that amount of peace. We all deserve at least that much.
But, even so, however much we want to forget the bad, our lives have all been changed by the horror of murder. It would be nice to lock that thought away in a dark closet in the backs of our minds and never look at it again. But that wouldn’t be fair to our loved ones, either. They WERE murdered. Pulling that fact out into the light makes murder visible. When we stand together at events like this we remind people that murder can happen to anyone in any time or place. If the general public goes on comfortably believing that only drug dealers and other criminals get murdered, how will things ever change? How will things get a little better for the next bewildered victim of violent crime?
And so, we come together to remember what happened to them …all of them: Neal and Devon and Ian. Lizzy Bee and Steven, Theresa and Eileen, Caylee and Marsy, Orlando, Anthony and Bobby and all the many others whose tragic deaths made the world a darker place. In our remembrances, may the spark of their lights shine again in the world. That’s our job now… to make their lights shine.