Mural I painted in memory of all innocent victims under The Hall of Justice in the parking garage in Rochester, NY.
I’ve met a lot of people in this life journey and hope to meet many more. I’ve seen and experienced horrific things. Ive also seen and experienced great and beautiful things. One of the moments of my life journey will always stand out:
After my 9 and 1/2 month old son was murdered, I felt so alone. I felt afraid to go anywhere because it was all over the media. I was sure I’d be recognized and pointed at, stared at, whispered about etc. I had to pay for my son’s burial & had no money.
The state of NY has a crime victims unit and they offer help. The woman in charge of it, (Carol) started out as just another stranger I had to speak with in the District Attorney’s office. I don’t recall a lot of that meeting, but I do remember her handing me her card and saying “I know you don’t know me, but you can call me anytime, 24/7 even if its just to scream, cry, shout anything… I’m here for you. And she was, still is. There was something about her that was comforting “mom like”. She became that to me, a second mom.
One day she called me & told me she had a check for me to help with his burial. A women was in the waiting room. She had a look of despair on her face. Carol was speaking to her. As I waited in her office, Carol asked me into the waiting room and introduced me to the sad woman. She told me she was the mother of a beautiful little girl named Sunshine who had been murdered a month or so prior to my son. I remembered hearing about the incident and immediately my heart went out to her. As Carol was introducing us the woman stood up and we both began to cry…we immediately hugged each other. I was no longer alone…I do not, nor would I ever wish this upon anyone, but it felt good knowing there was someone who actually felt, who understood close to how I felt.
Yes, I had many friends and family for support. Some of the words they said to comfort me, really only made me more sad. They would say, “I know what you’re going through, I lost my cousin, or father.” But, as much as there words of encouragement were said, they could not understand what I was going through. Yes, I’ve also lost a parent, cousins, friends….but each death effected me differently. And now I lost a child. He didn’t die of an illness, he was murdered…stripped from this world by his own father. But this woman, mother…of such a beautiful little girl…she knew…she knew more of how I felt than anyone I’d ever met could know. Yes, we were strangers, but we were also connected.
Carol noticed how being with other “survivors of homicide victim’s” was good therapy, a group was formed. I found that helping others by telling them of my experiences and ups and downs, how I managed to climb out of that abyss.
I was watching the news one day and a infant and his babysitter were murdered in the woods. I had to do something for the mother…they lived in an area that had no victim support. I sent her a blank card and explained who I was. Yes, I was a stranger to her, but I could relate to her and wanted so badly to help her. I told her, as Carol told me, you can call me anytime, even if its just to scream, cry or talk. She immediately contacted me.
I met with her the following day. Ironically, her son’s name was Curtis, the same as my son C.J. (Curtis Jr). He had blond hair, big blue eyes, just like my C.J. He was 18 months old Twice that of my son, but still an infant. I had never met another person who lost an infant. And to have so much in common was strange, but comforting. We shared a lot of similarities…her age, I was the same age when my son died. We both carried a picture of our sons…when we showed each other, we were both shocked to see they were on the same rocking dog. Not a rocking horse, as most would have, but a rocking dog. That day as I helped her, she also helped me. We are still friends to this day.
So once a month, a group of strangers would meet, share there experience, hug, go to Albany, NY to fight for bills and laws to be passed for crime victims…and although we were all still just strangers to one another, we were also connected kindred spirits.