Thanks for stopping by and welcome to Memoir Mondays!
Here I am packing once again in the middle of the night. I’m sure from the outside looking in I appear to have some sort of obsession with moving since this is the 4th move in 3 years. As I start analyzing the reasons for this particular move, the phone begins to ring. At this time of night, the sound of a ringing phone makes me panic and feel slightly lightheaded. I simultaneously reach for my keys and wallet as I try to digest the news of Rolly’s murder.
As I pulled into granny’s driveway I could see the flashing lights but my family is nowhere in sight; it’s utter chaos. There are several police officers ushering people out of a house across the street and one by one each is begrudgingly being placed in handcuffs and pushed into the back of squad cars. More fear is beginning to settle in as I dial the phone and head one block north where I find my family staring at his lifeless body in the street. A police officer quickly approaches to ask for my name and relationship to the victim. The officer assumes I’m the victim’s mother since I’m the only person present he shares a surname with. I inform him of the fact that no one has seen his mother in years but his father, my uncle, will arrive shortly.
My grandmother stands to my right, shaking as she begins to dial her son’s number. I took a few breaths and steeled my nerves as I called my dad and little brother. My dad is in disbelief and demanding Rolly be rushed to the hospital. I keep telling him, “Rolly is gone; it’s too late.” The phone call to my brother is even more difficult due to how close he and Rolly are. As he answers the phone I insist he go to a quiet room alone and sit down before I am willing to deliver the harsh truth.
My uncle, Rolly’s father, arrives and for the first time in my life I saw him cry and writhe in pain as he fell onto the pavement where he lost his only child. It’s in this exact moment my heart begins to break but I won’t allow myself to weep; I must appear numb for the sake of everyone else. There are so many arrangements to make and I quickly find myself assigned to obituary writing. How does one write an obituary for a 21 year old that had just begun to live? Somehow we all manage and even though a part of us died, we continue to go through daily motions and try to accept our new normal.
A young black man walking to his father’s house so he could ride with him to church on Easter Sunday is murdered in a random drive-by shooting. There are several witnesses who give statements indicating a clear description of a uniquely painted vehicle and the name of the owner. However, there is no trial, no arrests, not even a single segment featuring his demise on the news. I quickly start to realize why street justice is so commonly practiced. To some Rolly is just one less black man to police in the ghetto, but to us he’s the missing piece in our family puzzle.
It’s been more than a year and it still feels surreal. I quickly learned to take a new route to granny’s house so I could avoid reliving those moments. However, today on what would be Rolly’s 22nd birthday we are all gathering and releasing balloons on the very spot where his soul moved beyond our grasp.
In Loving Memory of Lil’ Shane
Last year I began jotting down memorable moments for what I hope eventually becomes a published autobiography. As I embark on this journey I’d love to have your comments, questions, and constructive criticism.
P.S. The name for this new series (memoirmondays) was inspired by a recent freshly pressed article called, She’s Not My Mother. Click here to view it.