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Twenty-eight years ago our lives changed forever. While we all have our own memories of that night, my own are still incredibly vivid — and certainly helped shape me into the adult I am today.
You see, 28 years ago, on MLK day, my younger sister and I were sitting in the living room watching TV. We had just finished eating dinner and we were on the couch in our pajamas. I was only 6. My little sister was not yet 4. The phone rang and my parents answered it from their bedroom down the hall. What I heard next were blood-curdling screams of my mother.
I remember my sister and I running back to their bedroom, terrified. What we saw were both of our parents hysterically crying. We both began crying as well. We had never seen our parents crying before and this was all so very scary. We didn’t know what was going on, but we were both very afraid.
Shortly thereafter, we were driven down to our neighbors’ house. We knew our parents had to go somewhere and that they wouldn’t be home for the rest of the night. We spent half of our childhoods at our neighbors home, playing with their two children of similar ages, but this was the first time I did not want to be there. I was scared.
The next morning I went to school, where I was met with condolences of teachers and school administration. I still had no idea what had happened.
I’m honestly not sure who told me what happened. At some point during that school day, someone had told me.
My maternal grandfather was shot and killed the night before.
Now, 28-years-later, it amazes me that on top of my mothers’ grief, she also had to deal with two very traumatized children. She was not even yet 30 herself! Three men stole her father from her life far too soon for no reason other than a carjacking gone wrong.
I have the clarity now that only time can provide. Occasionally the whole family will discuss the memories of the details of that awful night — each of my moms 6 brothers and sisters and all of my cousins have varying stories of what we remember in the immediate aftermath. But time also truly does heal. And, although I’ve found forgiveness for the act itself, I still do not forgive them for stealing my innocence and causing a tremendous amount of anxiety.
While today I’ve been thinking about that horrible night, for the rest of the 364 days of the year, I think only of his memory — of his laugh, his smile, his warmth, and his love. The other 364 days, I remember my grandfather, not the tragedy. ♥ ♥