Three Boys

The tragic and untimely deaths of three boys weighs on my mind. 

I didn’t know any of them, but their stories linger around me in small degrees of separation. They are in me now, swirling in a sea of grief and confusion.

I don’t know what to do with them. If I write them, maybe I can make sense of them. Maybe we can understand why our babies are exiting stage left in horrific and dramatic ways. Maybe we can find a solution.

Oh sweet boys, I wish you had known how many people would mourn for  your tragic passing. I wish so many things.

Each of you desperate and suffering chose to write the ending of your story. Now, your community is left to feel the pain and ask questions.

Boy 1, I think of you standing alone, scared and facing an army of officers in a standoff like some nightmare thriller.

Time stood still

Hearts pounded

Fear thickened the air.

You were a child. 

You were a scared and sick child.

In a split second, you raised the weapon you had in your hand  dozens of bullets speed through the air 

ripping open your flesh and stealing your life

you fell to the ground

Grown men stood trembling surrounded by smoke. 

Your mother writes part of your story for the paper. She wants us to know about her son. She wants to honor your life. 

Boy Two, you ended your life alone in your dorm room.

You were in your junior year.

Everyone says it was a shock because you seemed fine.

The campus ignites in the wake of your death.

Your friends disperse to the safety of their families. 

Your mom walks across and crowded campus bent and sobbing. She is held up by the college president and the chaplin. 

A sea of stunned students clear the way for her as she walks to your dorm room to gather your belongings. 

Students who only knew your face sob alone in their rooms as they think of your death.

Boy Three, you took your life at home in your bedroom.

Your parents haven’t told the family what happened even though it’s been almost a year. 

You died unexpectedly a week after finishing your second semester of college.

Your mother clings to the cat you brought home months before your death. Unfortunately, the cat often escapes. Two weeks ago your  mother was frantic. She wandered the fields and woods near your home for hours in the dark and cold.  She sobbed and hysterically called the cat’s name, begging him to come home. She kept her eyes on the ground, afraid that if she looked up, she would see the cat hanging from a tree.

Sweet boys, we will do better. 

Sweet boys, you did not die in vain.

All the mothers and all the fathers

All the brothers and and all the sisters, 

All the aunts, uncles, and cousins, 

All the teachers, neighbors, and friends 

All are changed by your death.

Your lives mattered.

We will do better.

4 thoughts on “Three Boys

  1. This is a beautiful way to capture your grief and to pay tribute to their lives. The thread you weave by casting their mothers with your words shows the contrast between life and death, between writing your own story and its effects on another’s. The parts that take short lines to tell the stories are perfectly paired with the story they tell. There is so much about this piece that moves me and makes me want to read it again, to feel it again. Because we can do better.


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