In February I celebrated my son's birthday. Most birthday events are filled with happiness and well wishes for the coming year. This was a private celebration. More like a quiet remembrance of what this precious life could have meant to the world. A remembrance of a life lost.
My emptiness is felt several times a year. Summer vacations. Mother's Day. Holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas truly standout. When a violent crime happens within a family their celebrations are seen as "minus one" also. There is no forgetting the loss of a child to senseless violence.
Everyday I work with families that wake up to this same reality. There is the phone call from the police or other family member. Then the mad dash to the hospital. The horrible news from the doctor. Then the disbelief of your new normal. There is no rehearsal for the depth of this grieving. The longevity of sadness lasts long after the headlines disappear.
My story is no different.
Ask any mother, any parent of the 60 or more homicides in 2007 who has received a similar phone call about their child, and they’ll describe that same knot in their stomach they felt when given the news. In one moment my life was normal. In the next moment I had so many questions and emotions I thought I would explode. Someone stole my son’s life, and I want to know who?
The Monday after the funeral I met with detectives. I needed to know how we were going to find the person who murdered my son. I searched for support groups and organizations that could show me where to start. Over time I became a member of Cincinnati PD-CrimeStoppers, Parents of Murdered Children, Compassionate Friends, a regular at the Cincinnati Homicide Department, and Ohio Victim’s Advocacy to mention a few. But my mission to bring awareness to my son’s plight opened another door for me. Other victim’s family members began contacting me for information of how to untie that knot they were feeling. Thus the creation of the non-profit organization UCanSpeakForMe.
My goal is to assist families with information and media support during the initial days after the crime. Flyers, victim faced playing cards, posters, book markers, and to advise families of where to go for additional help and advice. Hebrew 11:6 talks about faith and the rewards that come to those who seek him(God). I knew that my son was at peace and he had left something for me to do. I believe the Lord would give me peace and the strength to complete my mission.
UCanSpeakForMe can also use your help. These homicides are not just a police matter. Nor are they regulated to private family interventions. This is a community concern. Help us to help those who face those stolen moments, and the lost of a child to violence.
Hope L. Dudley, CEO