From The Macon Telegraph
By Charles Richardson, The Macon Telegraph
MACON (Aug. 22, 2004) – A friend of mine got a call in the middle of the night, a call all parents dream of but few, thankfully, ever receive. The news could not have been much worse. “Your son has been in an altercation,” the person on the other end of the line told him. He needed to get to Grady Hospital in Atlanta as quickly as possible.
I can’t imagine what was going through his mind during that trip up Interstate 75. I’m a father, and I have no idea how I would take the news he received once he arrived at the hospital.
There had been an after-concert party in an Atlanta apartment. Somehow, tempers flared and a shotgun was fired. His son was in the way of the buckshot, though behind a bathroom door. His 20-year-old life ended that night, and the lives of all involved are forever changed.
I don’t believe God makes people do stupid things. I don’t believe that we have an appointed destiny and that our deaths are predetermined. I know there are several scriptures in the Bible that conflict with my beliefs, but I just don’t think the God I worship would put a family through what this family is having to endure.
I don’t know what was going through the shooter’s mind when he pulled that trigger, but I know God wasn’t the one who made him do it. Now his life is also forever changed, his family and friends also affected.
The bright homes for both young men are all gone now in a fleeting series of events that no one could plan. An evening of music and fun turned tragic. It happens all too often when the combination of good times, alcohol and weapons come together to form a fatal mixture.
Parents have a difficult job. It’s impossible to protect our children 24 hours a day without stifling them. They must be given a chance to grow and experience life. But they also need to know not everyone they meet is out to do them good, and an alarm bell must ring in their heads when they see a series of events coming together that could harm them.
The “just leave” rule should apply when:
— They see an illegal activity, particularly if it’s being committed by someone they are with.
— Anytime they see a weapon. Doesn’t matter if it’s sitting on a table all by itself.
— People are consuming large amounts of alcohol, and in particular, if they are driving. Take away their keys and don’t let them drive in that condition. It doesn’t matter if the person gets mad — they’ll get over it. It doesn’t matter if you have to walk home or call your parents for a ride — they’ll understand.
Disaster rarely comes from one single decision — but a series of events. When disaster finally hits it comes in a millisecond — too quickly for anyone to sort it out in time to prevent it.
We always look for some good to come out of bad situations. That’s God trying to ease the pain. He uses tragedies to teach lessons, but the actual events are the devil’s work.
The thing that hits me hardest is the suddenness. No one gets to say their goodbyes, and however this incident turns out, there will always be unanswered questions and “what ifs?”
Time has a remarkable ability to heal, but blows like these will never disappear. The deep hole left in hearts can never be filled, and the reminders of a short life will be everywhere.
My only wish is for God’s love, kindness and grace to fall on everyone involved. Remember the good times and cherish the memories. Celebrate the life without being consumed by the death. If a mother can ask for forgiveness for the killer of her son, what does that ask of us?
Parents, hug and kiss your children every day. So what if it makes them uncomfortable? Let ehm know you love them and constantly worry about their safety and welfare. Make them understand that no matter how old they get, the love you have for them is a constant they can always depend on. Make them understand the seriousness of every move they make and then pray the phone doesn’t ring in the middle of the night.