Two years ago today, my husband’s son was murdered in Las Vegas. The following is a copy of the impact letter I wrote to the judge for her consideration in sentencing the man who killed him.
I offer this today to Steven’s memory and for those of us who share in the loss of our children. God sees all things. Nothing escapes His gaze or His righteous judgement.
I am addressing the untimely death of my step son Steven, who was forever taken from us in an act of rage, and outright murder.
Steven was my husband’s son who I met when he was about 9 years old. He was playful, curious and strong, and grew to be an astonishingly handsome man whose looks were striking. His death has created a huge hole in our hearts and also in our lives. Every person within a family has a special place that is only for them. That place is filled by the many ways of who they are. It is not a place filled by great social or societal accomplishment, but in small things that are shared, fun things, silly jokes that no one else “gets”, curious things, the things of laughter and of tears, of struggle and of resolve in things learned, in growing and growing up, things that only touch families. Why? Because we know of each other and are known by each other, creating the intimacy of family that God had in mind when He put us together. When a person is taken from their family that place is forever lost, the family is not what it was while that person was alive and it will never be so again. It has to reform, but is it forever broken. We are broken. The place that was Steven is now empty; it is a giant hole of nothingness and it will never close.
Steven will not be in the car that pulls into the driveway. When our phone rings his voice will not be heard on the other end. There will be no more well wishes on birthdays and holidays. There will be no more food fests and curiosities shared in the kitchen. He was a son, a brother, an uncle, a cousin, and he was a friend. He was a big brother to my two daughters, especially my youngest – Jessica – who grew quite close to him just before her own death. Steven will not be here to continue to inquire as to how I am in losing her, his condolences are forever lost. His memories that he shared with her and of her will never again be repeated in my ear. In a sense, the loss of her is renewed to me in his death, in his absence. I will not see the blazing intensity of his eyes looking back at me in “those” conversations we often shared of life, of faith of relationship. As for the future, there will be no grandchildren, no “little Stevies” to run around and carry on and remind us of Steven, his strength, his great looks his beautiful heart and smile.
After his death we met with some friends and neighbors there in Las Vegas who knew him. Every one commented on his helping nature, his great heart, that he was always around to help others despite his own problems or needs. We found those stories greatly encouraging because that was the Steven we knew too. For him was formed the motto “Always had a heart to help others”. We also met with a member of the police department, a field officer, who talked with us about Steven and assured us he was truly trying to work out his problems.
About one year before his death, Steven was diagnosed with Bi-polar. That diagnosis explained to us the suffering that he experienced in his lack of focus, the extremes in behavior, his ups and his downs. It explained to us why he could never just be who he was, or recognize the simple fact that he was hugely loved, a part of a very large family who nearly moved heaven and earth to help him.
He began treatment and medication and for the first time we saw his focus, his desire to grow, a new ability to work in gainful employment, to settle, to begin to understand on a new level our love for him and how important he was to us as a family member. We saw a deeper relationship forming between us, longer conversations of encouragement shared on both ends, of love, courage and support. We had a hope that had not been there before. A hope that was lost the day he died. So again, all that Steven was to us, all that he could have been in the years to come was taken away forever.
How do I explain to you the impact of the loss of a child? It is my second time around. Truly, there are no words good enough, nor paper long enough to express that loss, that grief. It is a loss that will never end, as it is renewed every day upon waking. It is to wonder if why my own heart beats, or why it is necessary to draw in one more breath. How can I possibly go on without that life, that person I once knew who used to look at me, talk to me, laugh with me, and even argue with me? Yes, I miss that too! It is a loss that is lived out every moment. The excruciating pain that is felt lessens as time passes, but it never heals. The emptiness from the hole in all of our lives, and in our hearts that was Steven will always be there. No one can take it away, no one can fill it – ever.
When I have tears and grieve over his death, they are not just for me, they are for the entire family. The grief I feel is for my beloved husband Steve, it is in my knowing first hand the horror of losing a child, the pain, the loss, the endless questioning of “why”. It is in looking in his eyes and knowing the heart that I love suffers as I had suffered. I cry tears for him because I completely understand, I feel it with him, I walk it out with him every day. The grief is for Steven’s mother Kathy, whose own grief sent me to the floor on numerous occasions, again, knowing firsthand what she felt the shock, the horror, in our first conversation over the phone, more tears than words. Grief shared of our lost son…her son…their child…Steve and Kathy’s…their heartbeat. It is the initial shock and horror continued with the repeated loss, grief, tears of others, people who I love and who love me. People who loved Steven now with a loss that will never end.
When the Lord said, “You shall not murder” He did so in His great wisdom. Life is His to give and His to take. He knew the endless suffering that would come to families, to those who love and who are loved, at the hands of a murderer.
Your Honor, I thank you for your time and consideration.