My son Prince would have been three years old today, if his father had not murdered him.
Prince was born on July 1, 2011. I remember the day he was born as if it was yesterday, but sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago. The first time the doctors put him on my chest, his big brown eyes looked directly into mine. I was meeting him for the first time, but it was as if I had known him my entire life.
For those who do not know my story, Prince was murdered on October 20th 2012 when his father drowned him during his fourth court ordered unsupervised visitation when he was only 15 months old. Two weeks after my son was born, I learned that the man I thought I loved was not at all the man he had portrayed. After fleeing his home with my two-week-old son, I began the hardest fight of my life in Family Court.
Currently, my son’s father (whom I call “Lucifer” or “Luc”) is awaiting trial for capital murder in Prince William County, VA. In addition to the medical examiner ruling that my son died of drowning, the police discovered that Luc took out over $580,000 in life insurance on Prince before killing him.
Living Well After Tragedy:
I have often heard that the best revenge is a life well lived. This seems especially true when an angry psychopath who seems determined to tear out your soul is the source of your pain. I would be lying if I didn’t admit to you that this sort of “revenge” was part of what got me out of bed in the weeks after my son’s murder. I should also admit that I have had my fair share of days when getting out of bed was plain impossible.
Just the other day, while I was dropping off my daughter in the church nursery, a kind woman asked me, “Are you happy?” She asked me this with tears in her eyes as she remembered the mornings when my son would bounce into the room, ready to play with the cars and eat cheerios with the rest of the children. While I responded with a simple “yes”, I thought about her question for some time afterward.
“Am I happy? Or am I still just trying to be happy as some sort of revenge to exact upon my son’s killer?” I thought about this for the better part of the day, and I welcomed the reflection that this question caused for me. As I went through the day, I realized that the reason I choose to be happy has changed since those initial days after my son was killed. I am now happy, but my happiness is now for my son, despite his killer.
I have a good life, but I will always have a hole in my heart. The conflicting emotions of being capable of happiness, but at the same time feeling a nagging pain is something I have found hard to explain. It is possible that only those who have faced such a tremendous loss could understand.
Several months ago, my father was talking to a friend about what happened to my son. He explained it well when he said, “It is like there is a huge stain on your carpet, and no matter how much you scrub the spot – it never goes away. You can put furniture on top of it, but you will always know that it is still there.” There is never going to be a day when I think what happened to Prince is okay. The hole in my heart is never going away, just like that permanent stain on my father’s metaphorical carpet.
If losing my child didn’t put a hole in my heart, I am not sure how healthy a person I would be. If someone had asked me in the days after my son was murdered if I thought I would ever be happy again, I would have said that happiness was impossible. Now, I would tell that same person that happiness can live along side of sadness.
On this day, I choose to celebrate my son’s short life and his important legacy. Since my son died, I have spoken to many parents who have lived and continue to live through tremendous pain and tragedy. Many of them tell me that my story is the worst that they have ever heard. I still hold firm, however, that pain is relative. Mine is no worse than the next person – it is just a different kind of pain.
Before my son came into my life, I was consumed by my “first world” problems. I spent a lot of time being unhappy about things that now seem completely trivial. Since my son, I think I am a happier person for having known this sort of tragedy and for having known how it feels to hit rock bottom. I have also become the type of person who believes that many times what you think is someone else’s problem will eventually become your own.
Lately, many people have asked me why I continue this blog now that I am no longer in the throws of a custody war. There are several reasons I continue to write. I continue to write because:
…I promised my son that I would finish the job he started, and continue to raise awareness about Civil Rights abuses against children in our country.
…I want to spread hope to other families in crisis.
…I want to be a part of the change, so that no other child has to suffer the way my son did – and that no other parent has to bury his or her child the way I had to bury mine.
Happy Birthday Mr. Prince:
Prince only lived to celebrate one birthday aside from the day he was born. I am so thankful that I took him to the beach, and let him play in the sand on his big day. On his birthday, I remember he woke up in a great mood. He wasn’t walking yet, but he loved to crawl. One of his favorite things to do was to crawl down long hotel hallways and greet all the other guests. We spent a large part of that day following Prince down halls, and watching him beam with happiness.
This year, I am taking my daughter to that same beach. I would give anything to have Prince here with us. As I am sitting on the beach, I will try to imagine a world where there aren’t people who kill their children. In that world, my son would still be here. I will also try to imagine a world where all people care as much about children as I do. I will imagine what things could be like if everyone stood up against the gaping holes in our system that continue to fail our children.
This world I imagine is the world I want for my daughter.