March 16, 1965 to April 23, 2010
WHERE IS THE LOVE?
When I was a kid, I had some cousins who came to live with us for a short while. My parents took them in to help their mother out. She was a single mother raising two boys and a girl. I am also raising two boys and a girl, so I sympathize with her much more now than I did back then.
The girls in school were all crazy about Smokey and his little brother in our younger years. They were the cutest guys in town. It was a little weird for me, because they were my cousins. Their sister is one of my closest friends, as well as being my cousin. She hid me out when I was a runaway to help me hide from my violent and abusive father. The boys were a little on the wild side, and I liked them both. I was a little on the wild side, too. They were my second cousins, as our grandmothers were sisters. As time passed, we all grew up and got married. We had children. We experimented with life, and some of us experimented with drugs.
As the years passed, my life changed, and I would see the three of them intermittently, but we never really got close again. Before I knew it, a violent crime landed Smokey in a wheelchair, and his life was never the same.
He was in a great deal of pain, even though he was paralyzed, and he was addicted to drugs. It would be safe to say that his drug use and that basic lifestyle ruined what was left of his life. I felt sorry for Smokey, and I did care about him. He was liked by a great many people, and I was greatly surprised last week when I got a text from someone in my past who had also been friends with Smokey that said, "Did you hear about Smokey?"
I froze as I read the text, not knowing what to expect. I sent a text back inquiring what he was talking about, but then I just called. Evidently, Smokey had been murdered, and they had caught the guy who had done it after hours of standoff at an apartment complex.
The police wouldn't tell us how he died or why, and they wouldn't do anything without his daughter's permission, with whom we had had very little recent contact (and with whom I had actually had NO contact before). A few days after Smokey's murder, his sister called me and asked if I wanted to go to Smokey's trailer with her. Evidently, the daughter had been nice enough to let us handle the details. I agreed immediately, without really thinking that there might be anything there I didn't want to see.
That realization began to sink in as I pulled into the trailer park. This particular park has a very bad reputation for being a place where drugs and crime are rampant. The first thing I noticed when I walked into the trailer was how dirty the floor was. It didn't sink in until much later that the brown stains all over the trailer floor were anything I might not want to be standing in
Drugs can ruin a person's life. If Smokey had had his way, he would've been closer to his family. I think it was heartbreaking to him that he had so many "friends," but so few close family members. I didn't spend a great deal of time around him, as I was much closer in age to his siblings. I regret that now. However, the lifestyle he led would have prevented that.
This was a coldblooded murder. It was a horrible thing to do to a man in a wheelchair. He couldn't even defend himself. My cousin didn't need to die. I don't care what he did or didn't do. Murder is NEVER the answer. I looked up the murder suspect on the local internet and was surprised to see he had a rap sheet a mile long (sarcasm here). He apparently won't be getting away with murder, however.
The song below will be playing at Smokey's funeral in May, and I want to express the sorrow our family all feels for this terrible experience. May you rest in peace, Smokey. You are loved.