In loving memory of my eldest son, Donald Nicholas Bush
I remember my little boy, my perfect, beautiful little boy, handed to me on a cold blustery New Year’s Eve, 1972, in Ashland Oregon. It was 12:00 noon on the delivery room clock as I heard his first cry. The Dr. clocked him in a couple minutes later, after cutting the cord and whatever else he did before turning to look at the clock.
I remember my little boy, screaming day and night in misery for his first few months from what turned out to be an allergy to milk. If only I had insisted on following my intent to breast feed him. Others feared he would starve. Mom, never let anyone interfere with your God given Motherly instincts!
I remember my little boy so proudly taking his first steps. I remember his first haircut, his first tooth lost, his first bicycle, the first fish he caught.
I remember my little boy, the first time he named all the letters on his wooden blocks and read the word “hot” on the hot cocoa can on the countertop. Two years old! I was amazed.
I remember my little boy, standing there, holding his little brother’s hand – on the porch of the farm house we rented after moving to Sandpoint Idaho in 1978 - lunch bucket in his other hand as we waited for the school bus, his first day at school – a good Christian school where he would receive an exemplary education, to prepare him for service to good in the world. So afraid, he and I, of what lay ahead. I cried all day, for the loss of my little boy, and a loss it truly turned out to be. Never send your precious little ones out into the world – even a “good Christian” world – for their education. As the Bible teaches, train them up yourself, for as the tree is bent, so it grows. Once they step out into the world you have little say in how they grow. Mom, no one can teach them as well as you can.
I remember my little boy – my sweet, innocent little boy - 12 yrs. old, interacting there in the front yard of our home – (our “single parent” home – a nice 14’x70’ with fireplace, big yard, deck, trees and tree house, close to his school and my work) – interacting with a couple of other boys his age. My sweet innocent little boy - I didn’t recognize him – the swagger, the sneer, the tough talk. That can’t be! When he came in the door, my sweet innocent little boy was back. “Hi Mommy!” Big eyes – innocent – o.k. – well- that must be how little boys communicate – I don’t know – I believe him – I trust him – I love him – his lies, his manipulations, don’t sink in until much later. Even burnt residue in a spoon doesn’t register. I have no knowledge of drugs or any reason to suspect that’s what caused the fire in my house. All I know is he is out of control. Don’t leave your precious little ones alone while you go to work. Take the damned welfare, prostitute yourself in a loveless marriage, whatever it takes to be there to stop the drugs from stealing their souls. Mom, no one can protect them like you can.
I remember my little boy, eyes big as saucers – standing looking out the big window as I drove away – visions of C.P.S. taking him away – my house on fire- drug deals going down in my yard while I’m gone to work – merchants in town – “We won’t press charges for shoplifting this time, but keep him out of our store”. Boss at work, “No! He cannot come by here after school anymore”. Threats from C.P.S. to take him away. OK – OK- OK- I get it – I get it- I get it – out of control – house on fire – he’s accustomed to his Dad’s discipline, no respect for me - I waited too long - Dad is his only hope. Eyes big as saucers in the window – I cry all the way home. Never send your precious little ones to another, thinking they can do a better job than you can. No one can LOVE them as well as you can.
I remember my little boy – across the table – Edgewater Restaurant – snow flurries blowing outside the windows reflecting our images and the candle on the table. He has ordered the most expensive thing on the menu – no worries – I’ll figure out how to pay for it after he has gone back to Dad’s – for now, he’s here with me and I want him to have a memorable Birthday dinner. He’s talking – telling me he “collects souls” – I ask, he explains, I still don’t understand – creepy 13 yr. old stuff – he’ll grow out of it – a phase – I tell myself. He wants to walk down the beach. It’s dark - It’s snowing! We’re not dressed for walking in the snow. No! He pesters and pesters and something cold crawls up my spine. I get up – it’s time to go home. Something sinister, evil hanging around here – time to go! Later, in Spring, walking along that beach – near the Edgewater - with a friend who tells me this place – a grove of trees with huge flat rocks and boulders is where the local Satanists gather for their rituals and sacrifices. A cold chill and I remember – my little boy – across the table.
I remember my little boy, growing into a man. I remember how proud he was when his twin babies were born. He loved them more than life itself. So many memories…
I remember my little boy, the man – calling to say he wants to start his life over in a new way –coming to Arizona (been saying that for years, between months of no contact as he descends back into…lifestyle choices)- but now, bus ready to travel – departure delayed to add slide out that Carol wants – too late for Spring departure – stuff to sell, put in storage, will be here in the Fall. I remember my little boy. Shot and killed around 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, the 12th day of October, 2021. Two shots from a drug dealer, one in the abdomen, one in the back, both fatal. He died face down, alone on the cold ground. He should have been here, with me. I await a pinch of his ashes… to place in his baby book… along with his hospital bracelet, a lock of hair from his first haircut, his first tooth lost, his first report card…and some Mommy tears.
I pray for his soul…feel some confirmation that he is in good hands…he has completed his mission in this world and gone on ahead. We will meet again.