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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Weekend Mornings



Growing up, Saturdays meant mom would bake. Bread. Buns. Cinnamon rolls. The smell drifted over the house. My mouth would water. There were times we ate her bread straight out of the oven, butter melting before it was fully spread.

Chores. Lawns to mow. Apples to pick. Bushes to trim. Backyard football or baseball to play. Bikes to ride. Trees to climb. Rafts for traveling up and down the river. The woods to explore.

Sundays were bacon and eggs and toast. Maybe sweet rolls from Bauer’s Bakery. Always church. Holy Angels for the nine-fifteen. Left side. One of the first ten rows or so from the front. Back home, a Packer game to watch. A dinner of fried chicken, rolls and mashed potatoes Then the Ed Sullivan Show.

Time passed. Years drifted by and now I have a family of my own.

I get up early, though not as early as weekdays. Silence in the mornings. Kim is out running and won’t be back for an hour or so. The girls, if they’re home, still sleeping.

The sun peeks over the tall trees that form a wall in our backyard. I revel in the silence. Broken, by a woodpecker seeking its breakfast, other birds greeting each other with chirps and calls.

As neighbors wake, the familiar sound of lawnmowers come to life. Cars drive past our house, occupants on their way to the grocery store or on to some such errand.

Still, our family room is quiet, peaceful. No TV. No radio. Revel in silence. Gathering my thoughts. Thinking through a scene or dialogue of my current book, my current work in progress. Prewriting in my head- an important step for me before I pull out the laptop and peck away at the keyboard.

Bailey at my feet or laying on the couch in her room. Lazy. Peaceful. At rest. Just like me, I suppose. Not anxious to begin the day, but rather, to begin it slowly.

So grateful for these mornings.

Weekend Mornings to recharge. Weekend Mornings to take stock. Weekend Mornings to reflect.

Important, I think.

Plenty of time for work. Plenty of time to be busy. Not enough time to rest.

Sigh. Smile. A nod of the head. And, something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:
Please feel free to connect with me at:

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Lewis.Author                        

Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Lewis/e/B01FWB9AOI/                 

If you like Thriller/Mystery fiction, check out my novels:

Available on Amazon for .99 the Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they don’t know one another, the lives of FBI Agent Kelliher and two boys become interwoven with the same thread that Pete Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their lives are in jeopardy as each search for a way out. http://bit.ly/Taking-Lives-JLewis

Stolen Lives, Book One of the Lives Trilogy:
Two thirteen year old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they’ll end up like all the others- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And the possibility exists that one of his team members might be involved. http://bit.ly/Stolen-Lives-JLewis

Shattered Lives, Book Two of the Lives Trilogy:
Six men escaped and are out for revenge. The boys, recently freed from captivity, are in danger and so are their families, but they don’t know it. The FBI has no clues, no leads, and nothing to go on and because of that, cannot protect them. http://bit.ly/Shattered-Lives-J-Lewis

Splintered Lives, Book Three of the Lives Trilogy:
It began in Arizona with death and it ends in Arizona in death. A 14 year old boy has a price on his head, but he and his family don’t know it. Their family vacation turns into a trip to hell. Out gunned and outnumbered, can this boy protect his father and brothers? Without knowing who these men are? Or how many there are? Or when they might come for him? http://bit.ly/Splintered-Lives-J-Lewis 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Our Own Terrible Horrible Day



As I wrote last week, this past Friday was the sentencing hearing for the shooter in Kim’s and my son’s murder. By any definition, it wasn’t easy. We didn’t know what to expect.

Honestly, it was Our Own Terrible Horrible Day.

I had only seen a newspaper picture of the shooter. At the time he was charged, he was a skinny, little kid of fifteen. My father-in-law remarked that at the first hearing, the young man would turn around and smirk, and that smirk left our families angry.

I was prepared to see something of a monster. I was prepared to hate the boy. While the two assistant state prosecutors did their best to explain what we would see and hear, no amount of preparation prepared us for what we were to see and hear.

We learned a little bit more about how Wil was shot which was hard to hear, and the specific statements by witnesses led to some confusion and even more anger. When one of the assistant state prosecutors asked a series of questions, the young man responded with a soft, “Yes, Sir.”

Then it came time for us to present the “victim impact statement.” The four of us, Kim, Hannah, Emily and I wrote it together. What was difficult was that the statement couldn’t “bash” the defendant; the judge; the sentence; or the system. We were to state the impact Wil’s murder had on us. Each of us had a few edits. My brother, Jack, supplied the final paragraph.

From what Kim and the girls said, there were quite a few tears as I read our statement. They continued when Maria's brother, Tim, read Maria’s statement. As difficult as it was to put thoughts into words and words onto paper, I know it was difficult to listen to these two statements.

The young man sobbed almost through the whole process, especially so during both of the impact statements. He never raised his eyes from the floor if he opened them at all.    

We were all taken aback when it was time for the young man's mother to speak. She lectured, actually yelled at us on how we should feel and act towards her son. The assistant state prosecutor had to ask the court to stop her. I can tell you it left us angry. Looking back, she was a mom who was embarrassed and hurt and scared. I get that now two days and a thousand miles later. I get that.

The young man was given the opportunity to read his own statement. His hand shook as he took it out of the envelope. Again, he sobbed. His lawyer had to read it because the young man was too emotional.

Honestly, the young man wrote a very sincere and heart-felt statement about how sorry he is for the pain his actions have caused. He said he has rejected gang life and that he wants to help others like him make better decisions and be better people.

Deep down, Kim, Hannah, Emily and I know that no amount of justice or time in prison will bring Wil back. That one senseless, heartless act took Wil away from us.  

Our girls will not get another chance to be with their brother. They won’t get another chance to receive the birthday call from him and Maria singing happy birthday to them.

There’s an empty seat at the table now. Every Christmas our family tries to ignore it. There aren’t any more phone calls. None of us will ever get a phone call just to ask how it’s going. Each of us has a voicemail, and every time one of our phones gets switched, panic sets in because we are afraid to lose one of the only links to Wil we have. Just like his life, just like his smile, we’re afraid we’ll lose that, too.

Wil wasn’t there for Emily’s graduation from high school, but she certainly thought about him that day. He won’t be there when Hannah or Emily graduate from college. He was not there when Emily played her first collegiate soccer game, which tore at her because he was always pushing her to get where she is today. He never got to see her play and she wanted to share her first collegiate start with him. But she couldn’t because Wil was gone.

Hannah threw herself into school. Each of us have been worried because she was away and we couldn’t be there for her. We watched as she developed anxiety about being away from home. We watched her try to keep all of her feelings in, for Emily’s sake. In one day Hannah lost the one person she turned to talk to at odd hours of the day, the person she relied on to keep her secrets, the person she went to for advice and the person who was her best friend.

We’ve watched Maria change. It is as if an important piece of her soul is missing. Her smile isn’t as bright as it once was. We feel like we’ve drifted away from Maria, and we feel like she has drifted away from us, but we understand because it is just too hard. There are too many reminders and each of those reminders and each of those memories are painful.

One stupid, senseless and heartless choice changed our family forever. One senseless act, one heartless act, took our son and Hannah’s and Emily’s brother, and Maria’s husband away. Wil is gone. Wil is dead. Wil has been murdered.

So, the young man, now eighteen, wrote a statement which was read by his attorney. The young man apologized. He stated his determination to change. He rejected gangs and gang life. He wants to help other, younger kids from making the same mistakes and choices he has made.

Do we believe him?

A part of me really wants to but his actions will ultimately tell the real story. I put a lot of stock in actions. I’ve written in other posts that actions manifest what is in a person’s heart. Words, on the other hand, are meaningless without the actions to back them up.

I will never forgive what the young man did on the afternoon of July 12, 2014. Never. That one decision, that one choice affected so many and altered our lives in ways we’re still trying to understand.
But . . .

If Wil's death helps this young man change his life for the better, then it would help give me . . . perhaps give us . . . a little peace.

I’ve written in many posts of my belief in the good of man. I’ve written that while there is ugliness in our world, each of us can, and should, work to make it better. We make it better by our choices, by our words, but mostly by our actions. I have to believe in the ultimate good in man. I have to. So, while I cannot and will not forgive the young man’s choice, the young man’s action, I can and will forgive the young man himself. I think Wil would want that. I sincerely believe that.   

So perhaps Our Own Terrible Horrible Day might, in time . . . in a long, long time, turn out . . .

So many emotions, so much to process. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:


Please feel free to connect with me at:
Twitter at @jrlewisauthor
Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Lewis.Author                       
Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Lewis/e/B01FWB9AOI/
 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Justice Weeps



Justice Weeps

And so will we.

Some of you might know and some of you might not, but on July 12, 2014, Kim’s and my son, Wil, was shot and killed as he walked down a Chicago street. He was working on a photo shoot, took a break and went for some lunch and a few items for the apartment he and his wife, Maria, had moved into two weeks previous.

A car of gang members spotted a rival walking on the same street as my son. Allegedly, the thirty-one year old (at that time) gave a handgun to a fifteen year old (at the time) passenger and told him to, “Wet his shirt!” A seventeen year old (at the time) accompanied the shooter.

Our son was between the intended victim and the shooter. Ten shots were fired, but only one hit anyone . . . our son, and Hannah’s and Emily’s brother, and Maria’s husband.

The thirty-one year old was arrested at the scene. The other two escaped, but were later apprehended in Racine, Wisconsin, and all three have been in custody ever since.

This coming Friday, May 12, 2017, exactly two years and ten months to the day Wil was shot and killed . . . murdered . . . Kim, Hannah, Emily and I, along with Wil’s wife, Maria, will appear at the hearing of the shooter. The hearing will be in juvenile court.

Yes, juvenile court.

The Illinois legislature passed a law at some point after Wil was murdered that mandates juveniles, regardless of the crime, need to be tried in juvenile court. It went to the Illinois Supreme Court and the law was upheld unanimously. The state attorney appealed to the judge and the judge denied the petition.

So what does this mean?

It means that our son, Wil, and Hannah’s and Emily’s brother, and Maria’s husband is still dead, murdered at the hand of a then fifteen year old.

And, at age twenty-one, serving just six years for the crime of murder, the shooter will be set free.

We were advised that our victim’s impact statement will not have any impact on the judge or the outcome of the hearing. Maria’s impact statement will not have any impact on the judge or the outcome of the hearing. Nothing we say will have any impact on the judge or the outcome of the hearing.

So, one wonders, what is justice and how will it be served with respect to our son, Wil? How will justice be served with respect to Hannah’s and Emily’s brother? Or Maria’s husband?

It seems to me that justice won’t be served at all.

Justice will Weep.

And so will we.

We don’t want sympathy or pity. Wil wouldn’t want that and we certainly don’t. What we do want is for each of you to Live Your Life, Make a Positive Difference in the Lives of Others, and most importantly . . . and this is truly important, Don’t Take Life For Granted.

You can’t. And you shouldn’t.

You don’t know when those who are important to you will be taken. I want you . . . I need you . . . to make sure those important people in your life know you love them. Tell them often. More importantly, show them often. Please make sure they know how you feel.

Life is too fragile. Life is too delicate. Life cannot and should not be taken for granted. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!