This past Election Day my friends and I sat in the cool autumn air of their screened in porch, in the quaint little town of Davidson, North Carolina. Our children were inside watching a movie, our husbands were mixing drinks and waxing political. We were fawning over Beto and discussing all the amazing women who were stepping up to change our world. I was content. I was at optimistic. Yet, I was sad.
The next morning I woke up remembering November 9, 2016. I didn’t remember the shock of realizing Trump had won. I didn’t remember the fighting on Facebook, or the chaos that swept through our country in the coming days. I remembered the call I received from my sister. The one where she told me that my nephew, my brother’s oldest child, the little-red-haired brat who pestered me when we were kids, Little Scottie, was missing.
Election Day will never be the same for me ever again. But even worse, my family, my brother, my mother, my sisters, my great-nephews, will never be the same again. That was the beginning of a week-long search for Little Scottie, a week spent in agony by my brother, his wife, Little Scottie’s mom, sister, children, and friends. A week of waiting. A week of searching. A week of me, a thousand miles away, helping as best I could. Getting the word out, calling in favors from people in Kansas, searching news sites, filtering the press requests, keeping everyone informed. And waiting. Hoping for good news from Flint Hills.
Then the news came. And it wasn’t good. Then the real pain began.
Jerimiah and Jackson and I went to Wichita. We hugged my brother. We hugged my mother. We transported Little Scottie’s remains, in a wooden box resting on my mother’s lap, from Wichita to his own mother in Leavenworth. We read the news reports. We read the coroner report. We read the arrest records of those involved. We wept.
It’s been two years. Two long years for my brother. Two years of ups and downs. The grief of knowing what his son went through. The grief of never being able to say goodbye. Of never having closure. And then this week, on the day we were all headed to the polls to cast our ballots relying, we hoped, on love trumping hate. On sending a message to the world that we are still here in one piece, ready to move forward in love and optimism for the future. On the day the country tried to suture the wounds of our bleeding hearts, my brother sat in a courtroom and heard the sentencing of the two most evil people he has ever known.
They were sentenced to 171 years between the two of them. A sentence to ensure that they will die in prison. A sentence to ensure that my brother gets the only closure he can. A sentence to give some reparation for a loss that is unfathomable. Unthinkable. Unknowable. Sentences in my opinion, that were too short.
Grief comes in waves. It surprises you, pulls you under, holds you there for more than you would like. Some days are better than others. Some days you can paddle and kick your feet and stay afloat, other days you let the tide pull you down. Way down. And that’s okay. That’s okay, brother. Because when you get strong enough to stand back up, we will all be here.
We miss you Little Scottie. We miss your sweet nature, your kind heart. Your love of the Chiefs and your love of family. I’m sorry I ran away from you that day in sixth grade when you just wanted a hug, but I was too cool to give you one. I’m sorry I told you to stay out of my room because “boys aren’t allowed”. I forgive you for locking me in the laundry room that time, because you thought it would be funny. I forgive you for breaking my favorite Barbie doll’s arm. It was an accident, I know. I’m sorry for getting mad. I’m sorry I didn’t say it then. I am sorry I wasn’t there more.
I love you.