It was November 18, 2009. Police were everywhere. It looked liked every single Police Officer in our town (on & off duty) was out here...nothing like this happens here...not in our town.
I think I was in shock. The Coach, another Mom and I were talking...how could something like this happened in our town? The 9th safest city of our size in the US. A murder at a public park where there were kids on the tennis courts having a lesson, behind a Middle School my daughter would be attending in a couple of years. I was familiar with this park. I spent 4 years of my life as a Girl Scout Leader, we had Twilight Camp here every summer with other kids from other troops throughout our Council. This was a safe place. This was a happy place. This was home.
I was in some kind of shock I keep rubbing the palm of my right hand. Crap! I can't get this blood off of me. Please God, don't let me have a hidden, microscopic cut on my hand. Please don't let his blood mix in with mine, if it does please let him be healthy.
It was dark outside. The ambulance had already left, no sirens, just lights, going the speed limit. The Coach and I did everything we could to save this boy. Oh, he really was dead, I was right. I want to throw up. Remain calm. I can break down when I get home. Ashley? Ashley! ASHLEY!!! This could have been Ashley! Oh Ashley! Where are you? Oh my God! Ashley, I need to know you are safe!
A mini van pulls up, looks like a woman gets out, wearing pj's and has her hair pulled back in a ponytail, lots of hair.
A Police Woman walks towards us with her arms out, "Y'all need to back up please". The three of us start moving further away. We figured she was the victim's mom. I looked behind me and they made her sit on the curb. Then we heard it. She screamed. A primal mother's scream. There was no mistaking it...a mother lost her son tonight.
The scream reached the very core of me, I had chills, I could literally feel her pain. I wanted to run to her, hold her, comfort her...Mother to Mother. I looked at the Coach, my eyes filled with tears. He immediately grabbed my arm and pulled me close to him and told me I couldn't go. He tried to hug me, but I stepped away. A hug would have given me permission to cry, I couldn't cry yet, I can't fall apart before the police interview me. Remain calm. This could have been Ashley! What if this happened to Ashley, no one would tell me. Ashley, where are you? I need you, I need to hold you close, I need to know you are safe. I need to hold both of my children close.
I finally made it home a few hours later. I was shaking, still in shock. My husband and daughter were waiting for me in the kitchen. I still had my jacket on, the one I used to keep "the boy" warm, when I went over to the sink obsessively washing my hands over and over. My husband took my jacket to inspect it, then my tights, my shoes, and my skirt. I told him I was okay. He said he knew I was fine, he wanted to know if "the boy" was still alive when I got to him. What? He knew I used my right hand to apply pressure to the fatal wound, because of where I was if his heart was still beating then I would have been covered in blood, he was killed instantly because there was no blood on me, not on my knees or my clothes, just on my hand. I went back to the sink to wash my hands all over again, repeatedly. A mother lost her son, she will never see his smile, hear his voice, hear is laughter, she will never again feel his touch. I was too late. Where is Ashley? What if this was her, I would never know.
The next day I found out what the boy's name was and his age...he was 4 months older than Ashley.
Last July this horrible crime finally had it's day in court, I had to testify, the trial ended with a hung jury. We are going back for a retrial. So the nightmares began again as soon as I receive my subpoena. The Mother's scream, the air escaping from a lifeless body, the pain of a Mother losing her child. This is what haunts me...
After I testified last summer the boy's Mother approached me. She hugged me, we sat down and she held my hands. She explained to me that a Mother always knows when her child is in danger, she explained the strange little things that happened the few days before her son's murder and she explained the great sadness and pain she felt at the time her son died. I sat there trying to listen carefully because her accent was starting to get thick as she started to cry, I was trying to fight back the tears. My tears were for her losing her son, but they were also for me losing my child to adoption...my child is out there and I will never know if she is safe. This Mother will now spend her life not hearing her son's laughter, hearing his voice, seeing his smile...she will be able to understand a tiny piece of my pain...a pain I would never wish on another human being.
When a mother is pregnant with her child her body changes, the chemistry in her brain changes. A maternal instinct kicks in. I don't know how, but I understand why. This maternal instinct is suppose to protect the child. When the child is lost to adoption that instinct does not go away. No piece of paper, no Judge, no court can remove that maternal instinct. I know you have heard the saying "A Mother always knows", well, the Mother can sense what is going on with the child, it's part of that maternal instinct, part of that bond that is developed during pregnancy. A court document can separate the Mother and Child, but it can not remove that bond, that instinct.
When I go next week to sit on the stand again I will be relieving the moments from that night, how I tried to save another Mother's child and I will also be reminded how losing my child to adoption will always leave me wondering if my First Child is safe. It will be a cruel reminder, reminding me that I will never know if Ashley is in danger and I will never be able to protect her like a Mother protects her child from danger.