Saturday, July 9, 2016
there's someone I want to talk to
Somewhere there's this guy, he is in his mid-late twenties. He has black hair and fair skin. I know his last name but not his first and I can't shake this question I have. I want to ask him...what do you say about this?
The this is what's happening - open season, intentional open season on law enforcement. I'm thinking about this young man because I remember watching him, innocent and confused in his mother's arms at a fundraising auction for his benefit a year after his dad was executed.
I know the dad's first name if I don't know the son's first name. The dad worked with my husband. He was a motors officer who responded to a call from a concerned neighbor about something odd. There was no concerned neighbor. It was a planned ambush execution for anyone wearing a badge.
The details of the plan are irrelevant beyond the fact that like Dallas, and maybe like St. Louis...they worked. Les responded to the call. He paid for his job, his badge and his responsibility with his life.
A year or so after his execution, our department pulled together and hosted an auction to raise money for his widow and this black-haired toddler. Les' widow was bright and smiling and thankful and it was a happy atmosphere of support and community that I couldn't really get into. It was a long time ago but all I remember from that night was watching this little boy.
And I remember him now and I wonder. What are your thoughts right now? You know what this is. You have lived this. It is, in some ways, the backdrop of you childhood. Growing up without Les because someone decided it was open season, little-black-haired boy all grown up, you may be one of the few people who actually has a valid voice. You had and still have, a front row seat.
Do you have littles of your own now? What do you tell your kids about their grandfather? What do you tell them now? Do you hate cops because the profession stole your father? Do you hold them as heroes on a pedestal? Are you raging right now? Or is it a stoic the risk comes with the badge kind of thing?
Did you even make it? I wonder about that question too. His mom looked like she was adjusting and doing well. But that was an act, a necessary public face. Maybe this little boy grew up in chaos born of trauma and grief and maybe he tapped out and there's a headstone with his name on it too.
It's my assumption born of want that Les' son is a decently adjusted twenty something man with a front row seat. What happened in that neighborhood over 25 years ago is happening now in Dallas, St. Louis...I want this young man to be decently adjusted because it makes me feel better. If he made it, and he has a good life it's a small win.
I don't know what happened to Les' little boy and however that story has evolved, I can't do anything about it whether I like it's progression or not. Neither can you. But we can be present now. We can acknowledge our agency and our accountability and our capacity to act and our remarkable tendency to sleep through life until shit like this acts as our alarm. And then the next wondering hits me...along with that stunning capacity to sleep through our lives we are equally capable of hitting the snooze when the alarm sounds. Ignoring it. Hoping it will go away and take the day's reality with it.
That never ends well.