I woke up in the middle of the night last night (this morning, really), some part of my being attuned to the emptiness in our eighteen year-old son’s room next door. Turning on the light I read for a couple hours, reading Saffron Dreams, about a Muslim widow of 9/11, her husband in the towers, the senseless end of a beloved’s life, her trying to make sense of the world in its aftermath.
Around 5:30 am I heard noises, my son and his friend finally arriving home. Unusually he came in the bedroom, white as a sheet.
“What happened? Where have you been?”
He looked a decade older than he did when he left the house hours before, headed to a party ‘for some downtime after that eighty hour work week.’ Our youngest son is taking a gap year and has been working seven days a week for months, saving for college and a future elsewhere. This child has always been sensible, mature for his years.
“Someone got stabbed at the party, I saw him die right in front of me.”
My son’s friend had blood on his clothes.
Someone’s child is gone, just like that.
I know it’s nothing new, murder, death - and the real horror is reserved for the family; my deepest sympathy and internal shock is for this young man’s parents, his family.
But, for my teenage son to have witnessed a murder, death….
I woke up again later this morning, my mind remembering for the first time the day soon after my father died, when I found my mother crying, alone, in her darkened bedroom. She wasn’t crying for herself at that moment, she was crying for my sister, who saw our father die right in front of her. She was seventeen.
In an entirely different situation, I finally understand the tiniest bit of that pain my mother had that moment; pain for her child witnessing the terrible.
That young man gone so fast, so senselessly. Details unknown, other than assailant was caught.
'Why?' whirls around in my brain.
That’s all the words I have at the moment…
Hug your people, folks.