We could’ve guessed how things would end up. We hoped and prayed and begged that they wouldn’t go the way that they’ve gone. But at 10 years old life had already handed him several blows only to be followed up with some hard knocks. Just when you thought one little boy could not possibly handle anything more and it was time for him to catch a “break”- there were no breaks to be found. Our lives intersected with his when he was 10 and we were 24, both equally naive. Actually, he was less so than us.
I look back over the client entries I logged and his life spills out like a sad song, bled on the page. But to know Sam was to love him. It was impossible not to be drawn into his fun-loving spirit, his wide grin, his loyalty and protection for his mother and siblings. Yet when you looked really deep into his brown eyes, there was a boy who knew pain and sadness in a way that I had never experienced in my 24 years.
It’s crazy for me to comprehend that Nathaniel & I were one of the most consistent people in his young life. It’s even harder to come to grips with the fact that we too, fell away from him. The twins came and Sam went, court-ordered to Memphis, and days turned into months, months to years. The dog house that Sam & Nathaniel started to build for our backyard collected dust in the corner of the garage. Our reminder of him.
On March 6th, 2012 I turned on the morning news. (It was Ali Rose’s first birthday) Those eyes that I knew so well, the ones with the sadness behind them looked back at me from his mug-shot on the screen. I think I let out a scream, although I can’t say for sure. This was what we had feared for him and ultimately for us.
So for now we talk to him on the phone and visit him on Monday nights from 9 to 9:45pm. We come to sit with him when no one else does. Our conversations take place through the clouded plexiglass and over a phone line that reminds you, “this is a call from the Davidson County Detention Facility.” But we pick up the line, and we show up because that’s our role now. We will walk alongside him through this next chapter and offer what we can. All he really needs us to do is show up and be present. That’s all he ever really needed.