As a mother, I could never fathom the loss of a child. I had always assumed my sons would bury me. I was not ready to lose my son to a senseless act of violence. On Jan. 20, 2006, the unspeakable happened. My 16-year-old son, Baron “Deuce” P. Braswell II, was murdered.
I was not ready to envision my life without my son, and my son without life. When I saw my son, he was not warm to the touch; his body was cold. He did not open his eyes. I was not ready to comprehend that his heart had stopped beating. I could not believe that I would never be able to hold him in my arms, see his bright smile or hear his deep voice. I was not ready to let him go. I could not believe that my son’s life was taken away by a senseless act of teen violence.
Those first hours and days after Baron’s death were unbearable. I sat in his room, holding his pillow, waiting for him to come in. He did not come. Myriad friends came to provide words of comfort. I gradually realized it was not a dream. My son had been taken away from me by a senseless act of teen violence. Words cannot express the pain I felt. I prayed to God for it not to be true. I prayed for God to let my son live his life, and take mine in-stead. I prayed for God to lift me from this deep despair, and for understanding.
I remember one of our last vacations, to Florida in December 2005. Baron was fitted for a tuxedo. He was excited, and looked so handsome. Baron’s dad and I are divorced, but we’re dedicated to our kids. Baron’s dad and I were both engaged to be married, in May 2006 and June 2006. Baron was going to walk me down the aisle at my May wedding, and he was to have been best man in his dad’s wedding in June.
As we ate dinner one night during that Florida vacation, I spoke to my sons about being safe and being aware that there are dangerous people in the world. My youngest son lightly said: “Mom, nothing’s going to happen to us. We live in Fredericksburg!” Baron, my eldest son, smiled. My kids thought I was a worrier. I will forever remember that moment, because 20 days later, Baron was murdered here in Fredericksburg.
I realize that for 16 years I was touched by one of God’s many blessings. We will forever cherish memories of him in our hearts and minds. But we will never forget the physical and emotional pain and suffering caused by a senseless act of teen violence.
I have prayed to God for strength to endure the varied emotions brought forth during mo-ments of grief. Myriad fond memories traverse my mind. Some memories provoke smiles and laughter; others cause tears and sadness. A void exists in my heart that only time and prayer will heal.
I was not ready to bury my son. I was not ready to endure a year of court proceedings for a murder trial. I was ready to celebrate upcoming birthdays. I was ready to see him graduate from high school and college, get his first job, get married, start a family, and be a productive, law-abiding citizen. I was not ready to visit him at his grave site. I wanted to see him full of joy and God’s many blessings.
When crimes are committed, do the perpetrators ever stop to think about the impact of their actions? Do they understand the suffering endured by a family that has lost a child to a senseless act of teen violence? As a mother who has lost a child to an act of teen violence, my life has forever changed. I know that judicial decisions will not ease my pain or remedy my loss. I know that I can’t convolute my thoughts with resentment and anger, for I will place myself in a perpetual state of suffering as the perpetrators of the crime move on with their lives. I know I must place my pain, sorrow, anger, depression and my healing into God’s hands.
These acts of violence impact us both individually and as a community. Let us not lie in wait, let us come together. Join me for the Annual Baron P. Braswell II Run Against Teen Violence. I encourage you to take a stand against teen violence in our community. Let’s all come together and celebrate life as a blessing and stop senseless acts of violence.
Gwendolyn S. Braswell-Nash
LTC(ret)USA, RN, BSN, MHS, CRNA