3 years ago, on Saturday, September 16th 2017, someone decided that it was OK to take away my friend’s life with a bullet. Someone decided in an instant that it was within their power to take him away from all those who loved him, looked up to him and needed him. This person believed that they had the divine right to point a gun, pull the trigger, silence his voice and close his eyes –forever.
Words cannot possibly describe how angry I was in that moment. The shock and utter horror that took over my spirit that day, still leaves me feeling numb whenever I recall it to memory. I remember walking around for days trying to make some sense of it all, but I just couldn't and still can’t. This man had no rhyme or reason for doing what he did, he just thought it would be tough to kill someone that night, by claiming territory in front of his friends. To the shooter, my friend Paul was just some random guy, whose life he had the power to take. To all of us who loved him, he was the most genuine, giving, kindest and most humble of souls. An undeserving end to an incredible human life, taken far too soon. Whatever the reasons were for committing this selfish, cowardly act; Paul is gone now and nothing can change that. The actions of one person changed the course our lives forever. It is moments like this that truly test you as a human being.
In 3 years, I've learned to accept that Paul is gone, and continue to learn every day to live life without him. What I haven't been able to accept is the fact that not one person has come forward to provide information about what actually happened that terrible night. There were many people around him, during the time of his death. Friends, strangers, bystanders - no one has said a word. This is what has held my fury and my unwillingness to forgive, all this time.
I get that people are too afraid to speak up in times such as these, but we must! What good is our silence? It cannot fix, bring back or justify the past, for anyone. Paul certainly deserved more than this. His life was not lived in vain, and certainly worthy of justice. His 2 young children deserve to know what happened to their father and see his killer captured.
Due to the lack of evidence, information and persons of interest, the police had no choice but to close the investigation into his murder - claiming his case an unsolved mystery. Only, it isn't a mystery at all. Not for all his so called "friends" around him that night, who watched entire ordeal unfold. They have all the information necessary to put this to rest, and yet they sit in silence. They cried at his funeral and mourn his loss every day, yet do nothing. I don't know how anyone can live with that on their conscience, or in their heart.
Today, I look back on memories of him and feel robbed. Robbed of the opportunity to make more and share more. Robbed of time that his loved ones should have been able to still have with him. After all this time, we are still at a loss and forgiveness seems very far away. But God knows best, and with his grace I pray that someday justice will prevail.
If any of you ever have the unfortunate opportunity to witness a crime, know that feeling overwhelmed is OK. It is OK to feel frightened. But, it is anything but OK to do or say nothing. We have a divine, human right to come forward and be a voice for others who are voiceless. It will not be easy but doing the right thing never is. If it were, I wouldn't be sitting here, writing this for you all to read. Life isn't perfect an neither are human beings. But we must always strive to be better. To do better, expect better and create a better world; where others can feel a little less afraid to do the right thing. We all deserve that!
Paul, I love you more than words can say. I will never forget all that you have brought to my life. Thank you for always being one of the dearest friends I’ve ever had. You are light, laughter and goodness. The impact that you have made on everyone who had the distinct honor of knowing you will never be forgotten.
Forever in my thoughts, Forever in my heart.
R.I.P my brother!