A spontaneous urban memorial sprang up outside the convenience store where Raphael Ward was shot last month. His friends left balls, a bat, stuffed toys, candles, flowers -- the toys of a young person not far out of childhood. People wrote messages of grief and solidarity on the wall in sharpie, as high as people could reach, around the corner to another wall.
The wall was painted over some time yesterday. We've cleaned "RIP Sadonte" (his nickname) off our car. Most of the things left in his memory have been removed. All that remains is a box, set up on its side to shield a dozen tall memorial candles from the sleet.
The incident leaves me with an ache in my heart and a chill in my bones.
I ache for Raphael's friends and family, and most of all, for his mother. I ache for the families of the Sandy Hook children and for the family of Hadiya Pendleton. I hear that as of February 1, 1280 more people have died from gunshots in the US since the Sandy Hook shootings -- that's six weeks -- and I ache some more, and my heart starts to go numb.
I fear for my own son, who lives in a world in which a dispute among teenagers can so easily escalate into deadly confrontation instead of ending in a fistfight.
We must have an end to this plague on our nation.