You murdered my mother.
And I know that you murdered my mother.
Because I don’t have any privacy settings on any of my social networking sites or blogs or pages, it is my hope that you are able to read this. I hope that someone who knows you reads this and maybe mentions it and that prompts you to go to my page and read it.
It is probably “correct” or politically correct to say that I’m not writing this for you but that I’m writing it to be cathartic for me but I’m writing it to you. I’m writing it for you. With the events of these last few weeks as they have been and with the fact that I’ve come to find that I have been in your presence as of late, and that August made 20 years since this downward spiral began, it is time. I need to move on. I wanted to have this conversation face to face, I wanted to present you with these questions that I have, I wanted to sit across from you and look you in your eyes as I give you back all of this pain and hurt and devastation that is yours but that I have carried and maintained for all these years. I wanted to look you in your eyes and see the fear of being exposed in you as I detail all of the information that you know I know and remember vividly. Every detail and incident, things you may not have realized that I knew or know but I have long wanted to sit across from you and let out. I know the tone of this letter may seem angry and I am, I have been for some time, but its time for me to get over this and this letter is my closure, this letter is my resolution.
My life has been in shambles since March 28,1994. I woke up thinking that the day was going to be like any other Monday. I began to wash the dishes that I had noticed in the sink the night before. You know my mom hated for dishes to be left in the sink overnight. I had noticed them when we had came home the night before but I was tired and my mom was sleep and I had to put Tweet and Jeremy in the bed, so I just figured I’d wash them when I got up, before I got ready for school, before my mom would have a chance to scold me about them. Plus she was sleep and I didn’t want to make extra noise and wake her up and have to hear her mouth, yelling at me about something that I had or hadn’t done. I know that she was just trying to teach me responsibility and character and pride but as a 14 year old, at that time, I felt like she was always picking on me. She was always on my case about something. As I write these words, as has been the case for the last 20 years, I miss that. I miss her. I wish that I would have been able to have her here to “yell” at me some more. You took that away.
When we came in that night, I didn’t notice that the lights were all off and that her tv was off, she normally slept with it on, or that the smell that we met when I opened the door wasn’t the remnant of a bowel movement. I didn’t notice that she wasn’t in the bed snoring. I closed her door so that she wasn’t disturbed by the noise that we were making as we prepared for and went to bed. 3 kids make quite a bit of noise and I was selfishly just trying to get to bed without her awaking and making me do some chore or responsibility that I was supposed to take care of. As I made the final preparations and got my little sister and brother in the bed, I figured that I had succeeded. I was glad that she hadn’t been disturbed by the sounds. By the time I finally laid down, the smell wasn’t so strong neither. I eventually fell asleep. I remembered those dishes though.
I woke up so early that next morning. I remember going into the kitchen to look at the clock on the microwave and seeing 5:45 and wanting to go back to bed. But then I looked over at those dishes and then over to my moms door. Her door was still closed as I had closed it when we came in. I remember thinking to myself that I could hurry and wash the dishes and be finished either right around the time or a little before she got up. About 30 minutes into cleaning the kitchen I realized she hadn’t begun getting ready for work. I went and knocked on her door, no answer. I went back and finished cleaning the kitchen and then went to knock on her door again, no answer. You remember that rule that she had about not opening her door if it was closed but to knock? I considered it and the penalty for disobeying it but it was about 6:30 and she still was not up and I was pretty sure that she had to be getting ready for work and so I grabbed the knob, turned it, and pushed open the door. As I started to walk in I flicked the light switch. You know what I saw? I saw that what I had thought was her hair laying over her face the night before was dried up blood. I saw that the reason that she wasn’t snoring was because she couldn’t. I realized that the smell that was so strong when we came in the house was not boo boo. It was death. She was dead. I remember looking over the room and seeing that everything was pretty much in place. The only thing not in place was that the second drawer on her dresser was opened, there was a stocking draped over it, and the crown royal sack was on the floor. Her secret stash. The money that only three people knew about. Her, I, and you. It was the only thing out of place. The only thing that was out of order and it was gone. No other drawer opened or disrupted, no mess, no forced entry, no signs of a struggle. As I stood there for what seemed like forever crying my eyes out, standing in front of my greatest fear, my worst nightmare, staring at my mothers body which lie lifeless, ignored, to be discovered by her 14 year old son, I knew that you had done what you said you would. I remembered when you had pulled a gun out on us in the previous August. I remembered that the last words out of your mouth that night were you telling her that she would never get away with what she was doing by throwing you out. I stood there crying and wishing that I could have been there to have prevented this. I remember thinking that had I only stayed home for the weekend with her as she had asked me then this would not have happened. I remember banging the back of my head against the hall closet door in frustration because the last thing that she had said to me on that friday was, “Corey, stay home with me” and I had said no. I wanted to go spend the weekend in Markham with Rock and enjoy the freedom that came with that. I stood there staring at her body and feeling like it wouldn’t have happened if I was there or both of us would have died and that would have been better for me than losing her. But “we” weren’t dead, just her, and we, my siblings and I, had slept in the house with her dead body for almost 11 hours. Thank God that Tweet and Jeremy did not awake as I cried and called out for help. Thank god that I am the only one of us, her children, with that picture in my head. You know what I was looking at.
I recently wrote a blog about my support for Trayvon Martins family and how I was familiar with certain realities of their dilemma. That morning after the police arrived and the Chief came in, he asked me what happened and I gave him the account as I knew it. I told him that we usually spent weekends in Markham and how we had usually come home early Sunday mornings for church but that my mom hadn’t called Sunday morning nor during the day and so we hadn’t come home until late Sunday night. He was shocked to discover that we had been in the house while she was dead. He then realized that Tweet and Jeremy were still in the bed and by this time other people had arrived on the premises and got them up and escorted them around the scene so that they did not have to see it. And then the chief said your name. He remembered one of the many incidents before that day that had involved you and my mom. Incidents that not everyone else knows about but you and I did, you and I do. He asked me where you were, had I seen you. I told him that you were with her on Saturday. I pointed out the drawer with the missing money as well. (The details of that part and some other information is not necessary to be written in this format but I’m writing this because when I am done writing this letter, I am done with holding this grudge, holding this anger, holding on to this fear.) Soon after that morning I met with the Chief and the, at that time, District Attorney, and the States Attorney, and other authority figures that all said the same thing to me, “We know who did this to your mother, we know who committed this crime, you are right in who you feel did this as well, but it is a circumstantial case with no hard forensics and minus a gun or confession we may have our hands tied because we are not going to trial on a case that we may lose based on lack of evidence and let this murderer go free.”
That is what I was told. That’s what a 15 year old boy was told. They explained the autopsy to me and how they found whole broccoli florets in her system which indicated that she had been killed within 15-30 minutes of eating and that they knew that you were with her and that they had experts who had identified that the ride from whatever restaurant y’all had went to and the time to the house was in line with their timeline. Then there was this phone call that was made from a pay phone across town that you used as an alibi but the detectives and the District Attorney concluded was at most proof that there was an accomplice. They gave me all of this information and so much more and I just had to sit on it. There was nothing that they were willing to do and eventually it all died down. It seemed like no one cared. The church abandoned us, family and friends parted, and we were left with what we had, nothing. I had more than nothing. I had to walk around with the guilt of not being able to help her and the knowledge of what I had known because she had kept me close in those final few months and told me so much. I will admit that she withheld a lot of information that kept me in the dark and in denial about some things but I don’t think she ever supposed you were capable of killing her. My mother used to whoop me to trust you. She trusted you. She loved you.
And you killed her.
I’ve been walking around pretending to be strong for 20 years. I haven’t cried in almost that entire time. I lost my trust in people, my faith in God, my hope for the future behind this. This destroyed my family. This destroyed what I knew and had accepted and adopted as family. I suffered from a depression and darkness so devastating that no word I can think of is just to explain. The silence and what seemed to be this deliberate avoidance of what happened tore apart every sense of foundation that I thought I had. There was trouble before this, there has been much trouble after but the trauma that was attached to this tragedy transformed my being into an unfortunate mixture of manipulation and mediocrity that I am so sorry to even detail. The fact is that I eventually shut up about it because I was being ignored or like it seemed, no one else cared and with that I kept bumping into your name being brought up or even a picture or story here and there about you doing well. I once was told that I was telling lies on you because I was reluctant to admit the truth of my mother and her choices, her lifestyle, her secrets. I have even heard a story where someone told me that I was suspected of killing my mom. I realize how easy that was to suggest if you didn’t know the facts but what could I do? Sometimes I felt just as responsible because I was supposed to be so “responsible”, so mature. I felt like I should have been able to do something about it and since I hadn’t, well I was just as guilty as you. I really felt that way for a very long time.
And I ran. I left (Chicago) to get away from always running into things that were common between us. Because it seemed like everyone else just went about their lives and my justice, my resolution, was a joke. To this day, this family is broken behind whatever happened that night between the two of you. It is so crazy when I think about how it shifted everything. It’s even more ridiculous as I think about my journey since then. The facts are that I’ve had the opportunity to do very well. I’ve been a very successful barber for almost 20 years, I’m a pretty good poet, I’ve written 2 books, put out a cd, been on the radio, been on a reality tv series, done some extra work on a couple movies, met and worked with some amazing people, fathered a son, performed all over the country, and so much more. The truth is that I haven’t enjoyed a minute of it. I’ve been so paranoid and in fear. I have been unable to trust anyone. For a long time I thought that it was all a conspiracy to destroy me and the silence just proved me right, in my head. The things that I have done were all due to reflex and out of defense but there has been no joy. Because I knew so much about betrayal and tragedy I have defaulted to a history of not being able to commit to anyone or anything and the smallest things have been able to trigger my protective walls. I have had no follow up or follow through due to my “open wound” existence. This tragedy has loomed over my days every moment from then and the secret silence of it has loudly screamed its way across every part of my life. I used to fight it and that fight made it possible for me to maintain a small piece or part of relationship and routine but out of the blue some trigger would take shape and then I’d run into my shell of familiar silence and internalization that produced more pain. By nature I am a speaker and I survive on being able to share but the paranoia that affixes to the unresolved nature of stories like this one only produces issues. And those issues are severe. I had a heart attack a few months ago. Very few people even know about it because I kept it as secret as I could. A real near death experience and I kept it secret. I wrote a blog about it but I know that not many of the people who know me personally even know the significance or extent of my writing ability or career and so I safely release certain info into the blogosphere. During my hospital stay for the heart attack a doctor told me that I have to figure out how to “let it go” and that I was very lucky to have survived. Be it not for my age and moderately good health otherwise, I could have died. The fact is that I have been on medicine for hypertension for almost 15 years, and the dominate factor in my condition being stress. That stress is because of how I have continually walked around with this hurt and hell on me for all this time. I don’t have very many vices to comfort me either. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, and I don’t do drugs. Since I was a teenager I have gambled and also used sex as a vice but in the last couple of years my appetite for those two things has been subdued by my desire to be able to have peace in my life. I’ve spent the last 3 1/2 years in this sort of seclusion that has gotten me further isolated and deeper into this abyss of isolation. In regards to keeping so much secret, I keep everything to myself and that has destroyed the few relationships that I had or had been able to support or maintain. I feared allowing people into my life for fear that they will ultimately deceive and abuse me and certain words or familiar instances promoted that fear. And I ran. The best I was able to do was when I was able to get away and surround myself with all “new” people who didn’t know me and weren’t close to my situation or even more, were not aware of my past as to inquire of it and force me to remember it. But eventually something or someone would happen that made me think about it, about my mom, about my sister and brother, about how much I have disappointed and let them down over the years, about my silence, about my pain, and then I would run back here. I’ve walked away from so much and so many people to come back here. I have spun a web of frustration and pain across the country that has trapped and victimized almost everyone who crossed my path. I blame me for that. The pot had begun to be stirred for years leading up to March 26, 1994 (The night she was killed), her murder just served what was in the pot and I have been dishing it out ever since. But that pot is empty now.
For years I thought that I needed “closure”. I talked about it. I floated the idea whenever I had talks with people who I figured could understand or help me understand the concept. At first I wanted vengeance and believe me it took everything that was “good” left in me to avoid and eliminate some of the thoughts that developed in my head. Especially every time some other significant trial or trying time occurred and caused me pain and probably needed me to react or respond but I was paralyzed with the pain that perpetually lingered for so long. I plotted, and I planned hurt and harm towards you. A lot of that I did sheerly out of a confused place of not understanding how you had done such a thing to someone whom you had cared about or for. I was challenged in my effort to make sense of your predicament. I tried to calm my erratic and emotional feelings with the familiars of my faith but honestly, for most of the past 20 years, it was very difficult for me to even acknowledge God, let alone trust him. Although as I look back, I can only attribute the distinct amazingness of the sequence of certain events and revelation to God but while I was going through, God is not who I was going to. But I kept saying that I needed closure. When I left what I had going on in 2010 in Atlanta, a beautiful woman whom I believe really loved me and a situation that was setting up to give me love that I had long desired. A friend, actually friends, that cared about me and were willing to fight for me, were willing to support me, were willing to forgive me and help me forge ahead. Opportunities to succeed in my writing career, with some great chances to really move into my own, I did it in the name of coming here to get closure. I walked away from all of that again because I recognized that I had only been hurting people. I realized that I had left a trail of lies and deception and confusion in my past because of my inability to communicate. I ran and operated in a steady and constant fear. I was always looking over my shoulder. I would go stay in hotel rooms to get away from everyone. I spent two years homeless and I kept it a secret from everyone. I couldn’t sleep through the night, I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t breathe. I had been going through that same system of routine, off and on, in silence, since 1994 but I didn’t know how to deal with it and I didn’t trust anyone or myself enough to try to seek help. So I would run. I hurt people with my actions and I will spend the rest of my life attempting to get that trust back. I have decided that I will no longer do it carrying a pain and grief and hurt that is not mine though.
I wondered if you ever thought about what the ramifications and subsequent reactions to you pulling that trigger would be. I wondered if you thought about how it would affect us, her children. I wondered if I had been there would you had even done it. I wondered if it ever mattered to you how I felt, how we felt. I wondered if you were willing to talk to me about her, my mom, because I know you have some information and stories that I would have loved to hear. I wondered if you felt like you would get away with it. I wondered why. I wondered if she said something that just pissed you off or had she refused you or was it just that you were going to do as you said you would. I wondered if you hurt as much as I do because she is no longer here. I wondered if you forgave yourself or if you just tried to forget that it happened the way everyone else has seemed to. I wondered if seeing me gave you the same feeling that seeing you, or the possibility of seeing you, gives me. I wondered if you thought that my silence made me weak. I wondered if you saw some of the things that I have done and if it made you proud of what seemed like my resilience or if you didn’t care. I wondered if you ever wanted to say anything to me or apologize or ask for forgiveness. I wondered if you shot her in her sleep or did she see it or what the details were, about however it happened.
I had so many questions.
I don’t care anymore.
It happened and I will never get my mother back. But what I will get back, right now, is my life. I will not allow another second to pass on the clock of my life with this hurt, with this pain, with this anger, with those questions. I don’t need vengeance. Justice won’t justify anything here. I know what I know, and you know what I know. I’ve hidden and ran for too long. I am taking my joy back. My sister and brother deserve me and I deserve them and I’m going to take back my life and spend the rest of it fulfilling the mandate my mother wished upon me to take care of them. I will settle for nothing less.
I forgive you. I forgive you because I need to be forgiven. We are not perfect and we have our issues and we go through things and those things don’t always turn out how we want. In the moment we overreact, we make mistakes, we fall prey and victim to evil and the influences of evil. We all do. I definitely have and to judge you as if I’m perfect goes against everything that I know and have learned about life, about living. Right now I am so far behind and underneath the standards and expectations, not just set for me, but below those I set for myself. And I’ve hidden how much it has hurt. And because I was afraid to “ruffle feathers”, I was silent and I have avoided going forward because the inevitable outcome was that I’d have to face it, face this, face you, and I was scared. I was afraid. That has been even more dangerous for me, living with your guilt. I’m closing this chapter so that I can move on to another one. My son needs to know his father, who and what his father is, totally, and the distance that I have put between me and anyone that tries to come close has even put strain on me effectively raising him. He doesn’t know this story because I’ve hidden it and in hiding it I have hidden who I am and well, I’ve not been available to anyone or anything aside from the constant pain that I’ve found comfort and refuge in.
The last few weeks have blown my mind as it relates to this notion of getting closure. There is a bible verse:
Job 3:25 KJV
 For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.
March 25 (3/25) was the last time I saw my mom. But my biggest fear was being in a room with you, being around you and I declared that there was no way that could ever happen and then I find out that the only place that I feel somewhat safe in, outside of home, the only people that I, for some reason, have opened myself up to trusting and being around, the only relationship (friendship) that I have that I can not explain or justify or make sense of, just so happens to be with someone, a family, that is very dear to you. And then to discover that I have been in your presence recently and did not know it. That thing I most feared, most afraid of, has come upon me. And how I discovered it is all God, there is no man or coincidence involved and I know it. So I receive it, I get it. I asked for it, and I am ready for it. I wrote these great feelings that I have now about closure and resolution about a week ago and when I was done writing I realized that for so long I had declared closure but I really wanted resolution which was really my way of having a conclusion to this saga. My conclusion is that my resolution is closure. I’m not afraid anymore.
I’m not afraid of you anymore. I am going to move on. I let what happened way back then dictate the way that I have been and the way that I have felt. What happened was your fault, how I reacted was mine and though I can not face your demons for you, I’m am more than capable of being able to overcome mine. I had to shut up out of fear that my truth and these facts would force me into a deeper captivity but no, these facts, my truth, are going to set me free. Time for me to enjoy the same freedom that you have. Time for me to take care of my business. Time for me to take care of me.
This is what I want. This is what my mother would have wanted.