No contest

Sam Motsay did not vote in Election 2016; his first vote. I could not stand in the voting line with him and share his excitement, answer his last-minute questions before he entered the booth and then be with him after to share more of the same followed by a family dinner where it would have been discussed for more loving group commentary that would have had some part of laughter as chorus throughout. No that didn’t happen.

The thought of standing in line voting alone, without him, was enough to bring choked down cries that became stifled tears that streamed clear down my neck and also dripped off my chin while I soaked my shirt sleeve from wiping away what drops I could. It wasn’t that I couldn’t vote, it was that I just couldn’t. There was no conciliating what could not be.

I’d like to think that my son was not able to vote because of a purely bad decision but how many of those have we all made in our lifetime? My son was with two boys that did the same thing as well and they voted this election. So what else? I terrifyingly understand the new war on drugs. Drugs which we cannot keep from entering our country and harming our children. Last week two 13 year olds died the same as my son two years earlier. Although it’s no cure for what killed my son, the Narcan struggle is real, keeping people alive from heroin epidemic overdoses. We are losing a generation. A family with three sons has now buried all three as young men, with the third last week.

I have been a very private person most of my life. When my son died, yes, I wanted to run in the street shrieking as loud as I possibly could, kicking and hitting whatever I saw. When my son died and media knocked on my door, stood in court room hallways or attended engagements and asked for my comment, did I want to curse about how unfair life is in such devastation? Yes, I did. I think also of one of Sam’s dear friends who walked many times back and forth in front of our house crying that first summer. Lost, like we all were in the shock.

What could I do though? First, I stood on center stage with my son, Nick, beside me and I cried loudly with my words to educate: young people, adults, law enforcement, communities-at-large, then more with media, school administrators, government officials and agencies. With my family and friends, I started a nonprofit for awareness to try and save others from my pain by sharing it for common good. I left Corporate America and went to grad school to be a mental health counselor so I could try and help others whose journey is not what they wanted either. I focused my efforts towards legislative and support groups where I could aid positively.

With the two men who are today in jail from their involvement in my son’s death, I sat in so many court rooms for excruciating hours and over grueling months to see it come to an end. Even then, there was no end. I have forgiven to unbridle my heart; and I continue to when even true apologies never came. I know what happened to my son didn’t just happen to my son though. It happened to the sons and daughters of many; to good kids and good parents. Our rights taken from us overnight.

For reasons I still don’t yet know, I awoke the morning after the election with a hope I have not felt since my son’s death. It is a sense of hope that I have sought since his death though. Hope is organic I now can know. When it comes, I’ll embrace it for whatever possibilities to make this world better than it was for my son, Sam; better than it has turned out for me; better for what it can be for all including my son, Nick. I’ll try and do this while I cherish every memory and love in each moment. #muchlovetosam

Remembering bygones, supporting IN SB278

While standing today in the Indiana Statehouse Rotunda, I was reminded of being nearly in the same spot in the past, a much younger version of who I am today.  First, for those few times in support of the professional work I was involved with in the mid-2000’s.  Then also for personal reasons:  utmost in my thoughts, meeting Sam after his elementary class was done with their official statehouse tour and then being his private tour guide on a personal tour into my professional life; trekking through the Indiana Government Center North building, stopping to get a soda and Nestle’s chocolate bar in the North cafeteria and then eating and drinking both while we watched the ducks skimming across the water of the canal outside.  Next we took the underground walkway to the Indiana Government Center South Building which was my stomping ground so introductions as we ran into cohorts also took place.   Sam entertained a look of amusement both in his eyes and with his facial expression as he actually saw where I spent my days while he was busy at Sugar Grove Elementary.  Then we "adventured" through the underground tunnel that is a maze that leads from the government center to the statehouse and then past the smell of Weber Grill to end up at the Circle Center Mall where we raced steps on the escalator into the mall’s Food Court for yet another dessert; an Auntie Anne’s cinnamon sugar pretzel to tear off pieces and dip into warm, drizzly, gooey icing that ended up more on your face and fingertips before eventually into your mouth.  The private tour into my professional life ended at the South building parking garage where familiarity returned sitting in the backseat of the family vehicle he was accustomed to.  Nick got the same Nickel and Dime tour after his statehouse class trip the year after Sam did.  Today was both personal and professional for me and it was oh, so different in that I’m mourning Sam’s unimaginable loss, sure.  But today's focus wasn't necessarily “with,” but more so “for.” And to that, I thank Senator Jim Merritt for authoring a bill this legislative session to impose stiffer penalties for dealing drugs in the likes of what ended for our family with Sam’s death.  The three with felony charges in dealing a drug that killed my son has yet to play out.  But in the future, Merritt’s proposed Senate Bill 278 would mean even harder times for those who deal in such criminal vices that target our young.  Today, I was there “for” Sam and young people like him as Sam is “with” me now, "for"ever in my heart.