There's an image I can't get out of my head.
It's of a mother silently sitting beside her 15 year old daughter's body as it lay in the casket. The girl's life was violently taken in a drive-by shooting just a week before her 16th birthday.
Just eleven months after her 10 year old brother was killed in an accidental shooting.
Words are unspoken.
Tears fall freely and frequently.
I observe this scene unnoticed from the back of the mortuary and my heart breaks for her.
I want to snap a photo to memorialize what is happening but, this is her moment. Her last one ever with her daughter. I respect that. I won't desecrate it. It won't ever be shared on social media to be liked or go viral.
So I etch it into my memory to never forget.
I will always hold on to this memory so I can retell it to the gang involved young men whom I mentor. I hope they can empathize with enough with this mother's grief that they reconsider the grief they cause their own mothers.
I will share this episode with the parents who are disengaged in their kid's lives in hopes they can vicariously emotionalize the pain and emptiness felt by this grieving parent enough to be more active and present is their kid's lives.
Selfishly, I will revisit this moment when I have those difficult days and weeks and clients which make me question my purpose. I will remember the raw emotion I observed in that quiet funeral home and be reminded why I have willingly stepped into this profession which is filled with lives that have very little hope and so much pain and few success stories.
I will be able to overlook the critics, the haters and the naysayers who promote their politics, rhetoric, wallets and least importantly, their egos over the lives which are affected by these preventable tragedies.
I am a simple man who has lived a complicated life. The lessons I've learned from the experiences I've been through and the challenges I've conquered have helped me develop a philosophy that life is meant to be lived at a level better than average.