Forced Witness (Part Four)

04:24 Download
Paisley Yankolovich
From the 2017 CD, Forced Witness


Everybody needs a bad guy in a story like this, a Boogey Man. But there’s no Lurking Monster to be found here. Just boys being boys and something going horribly wrong. Had the man who crashed into my son remained on the scene till the police arrived, his existence would play only a small role in this nightmare. Instead he quickly became as much a centerpiece in this madness as my son. An anti-hero, fodder for the media- you know, the one’s who barged into my home the day after my son died to catch as many grief-stricken faces as possible. “How does it feel to lose a child?” “What do you want to say to the man who did this?”


But much like the media, everything about him is but a small insect circling the massive, rotting carcass that is my dead son and all that his death took with him. I wish he hadn’t fled. I could have given him a hug, prayed for his soul and called it a night. Instead, in a moment of self-serving fear he made himself the star of my son’s biggest performance and an on-going irritant to those of us actually attached to this event-trials, interviews, countless forms to fill out, deadlines, blah blah blah. Thanks buddy! As if death certificates, funeral homes, dealing with his college, banks, creditors, friends, family and every idiot on the planet who greets us at their place of business with an unwelcome, saccharine-sweet “So, how’s your day going?” weren’t enough.


My son’s short life will forever be all that I cling to and examine. Not any of these other players. This belongs to me, his mom, his sisters and us alone. Stand with us in solidarity on this point or join the swirling mass of misguided rage. Forget about finding a scapegoat or join the lynch mob. But don’t expect any cooperation or participation in dialogue about “him.” He’s not on my radar, not in my scope. I don’t not close my eyes at night and see a target for my rage and vengeance. I see my beautiful boy, dead, cold, taken from me far too soon. And it is ultimately him I blame.


Was it worth it, son? Are you a Big Man now, son? Are you in heaven? With God? With all the answers of the universe, son? I begged you not to go in the first place. Did you hear my voice pleading with you in those final seconds when you knew death was inevitable? Am I imagining your voice in my head saying, “I’m sorry, Dad” or is that really you trying to comfort me? And does it even matter at this point?  It will always be in my Bible. In Jeremiah. Again in Matthew. How many times have I read it? How many times have I closed my eyes and imagined the unreachable agony of loss? And now it’s about me! “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted for her children were no more.”


My only son has been slaughtered like the children of Egypt, the children of Bethlehem, like Jesus Christ Himself! There’s no healing here and there’s none-a-comin’. Not now, not ever and if you can’t get with that, find a different church. Healing to me means to let go, to forget. These are not options. They’re just ugly little demons, disguised as quick-fix, insta-doses of positive thinking phooey, about as not-helpful as sending me some white light, loving energy and good thoughts. Pray for me! I’ve lost a child, a son, a brother, a generation, the family name, grandkids, great grandkids, hope for a better future and one third of my reason to live. NO BANDAIDS PLEASE!




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