Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Anniversary---A Year Ago Today

Most network news programs have an all-too-frequent segment that signals a 1-year (or more) anniversary of a national tragedy. Our 1-year anniversary came yesterday, a family tragedy. Though not a blood relative, very much a family ordeal. I've known the teenage brother and sister since they were born, mother and father had their garden wedding at our back yard at Carlton Gardens. Carlton was a brother since high school and Kayla a sister to the kids-----very close. And then the tragedy, the crime a year ago. Sister, after being airlifted to ER, healed physically fairly quickly. Brother is locked up. Last August, I finally was able to work out a chaplain relationship with him, and for a few months saw him 3 or 4 times a week in the nearby detention center. He was a near perfect resident, and we had many great talks and educational times together. He loves astronomy and history, begging me on one occasion to do a session of Joan of Arc. I always brought a page filled with interesting questions, stories and facts, and we would go over them. On certain times, he corrected me and showed me wrong on a particular fact or opinion---and how we laughed. He guarded the papers I gave him with his life, being upset when he was about to be transferred last November that one of the pages I'd given him had gone missing. He's now in a youth facility a hundred miles away, and I'm allowed to see him only once a month. But he continues to make great progress and is terribly sorry for his crime. In both facilities he's gotten good counseling and psychological testing.

It was a year ago today that Carlton called me down here in Biloxi (where we are now), telling me the terrible news. We stayed here a few days longer, knowing there was nothing we could do at home. But I remember so well the dark cloud that so completely permeated the sunny skies of the Gulf shore. Every bike ride, every hike was haunted by the news back home. So this get-away has been a huge reminder as well as contemplation on the healing that has taken place in one year. I am optimistic about the future for this boy I love so dearly. I don't play a role in his sister's life; many others are surrounding her. She's beautiful and talented, and I certainly hope and pray for the best.