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You Are Always On My Mind, Part II

I saw the kids a couple times after their father and I broke up. I saw their grandmother sometimes when I would walk past her house on my way to work. I moved to Wisconsin for a dumb boy then in with my parents a couple months later. Dumb boy ya know. Soon after, my dad and I drove to Phoenix to get my stuff from a U-Haul. Stuff that my old roommate was holding onto for me until I could get down there to pick it all up. She was pawning my shit for drug money and her half brother called me to let me know. When my dad and I got there, I was so thankful to the police for blocking her from going in the truck until we got there (32 hours). We got the stuff I really wanted to keep and left the rest. We figured we'd go to Tucson and I'd show my dad where I had lived the last two years. It was a good visit. A lot of fun catching up with friends. I didn't think to stop by and see the kids. Regrets now of course.  I did the drive again with a friend of mine that April. I can't imagine driving across the country now but clearly I was ok with it back then.

ED TO ADD: In my writing of this, I got emotional, I blanked on an important part of this. Important to me. (This is why blogging about emotional stuff is hard for me. I block hurtful things out and vividly recall other equally shitty things that I wish I could forget) While I was down there with my friend, visiting, having a great time, I wondered why Donovan's grandparents house was for sale. I was sad that I couldn't pop in to see them. I didn't really give it another thought. I wish I had.

In April of 1996, I opened my mail and saw a news clipping from one of my friend's daughters. I thought it was odd she was sending me an article about a little boy who died. Strange yes? I started to read it and when I got to his name, my world screeched to a stop. I'm pretty sure I screamed, I know I fell to my knees. I don't remember a lot of that day. My chest still tightens up when I think about it. The pain is so real even 15 years later. I wrote a letter to his father, telling him that if he needed anything at all, to please call me. All I knew was that his girlfriend was arrested. It said nothing about him. I was all set to mail it when I got a phone call from another friend asking if I had heard about this child's death. Yes, I had gotten a news clipping on it. She filled me in on the newest information. How his father knew what was happening. He had been arrested right after her. I never sent that letter. My legs went out and I could do nothing but cry. I got the number for the reporter who was following up on the case and talked to him about it. He told me things that broke my heart.

This child, this innocent child, had been abused over a two year period. He was locked out of his house, overnight, had to sleep in the dog house, literally. He went to the neighbor's house. He was four years old. FOUR. Told the neighbor he was locked outside all night. She took him to his house. She was told that he must have followed his dad outside when he left for work. He spoke up and said no, he was locked out, all night. The neighbor did nothing. She left him with that woman and went back to her house.

At first all I could think was, why didn't his grandma take him in? If she had known what was going on, she would have taken him away in a heartbeat. Sadly, his grandma had passed away from cancer 4 months before Donovan passed away. (I like to think he's safe in her arms now, never to feel pain again)

He had a CPS file that 396 pages long. THREE HUNDRED NINETY SIX pages. I'll let you picture that in your head. An emergency room doctor said that if he died, it would be on CPS because they were doing nothing to save him. NOTHING.

I've been told that a couple days before his death, in the hospital, one of her kids said to him that he needed to tell the truth about what happened, that he was pushed. He was so afraid of her that he lied until the end. He died April 26. Five and a half years old. Brown eyes, big as saucers. Cute as a button. So sweet, so loving. A short life, ended so brutally.

She blamed all that she did on her abusive childhood to which I say fuck you. You can't use that as an excuse. A grown ass woman can make choices. She chose not to abuse her own kids. She chose to cause great bodily harm and DEATH to this child. The judge didn't take her excuse either. She was sentenced to 60+ years. She requested from the judge that she be allowed to legally change her name before serving her time. The judge said no and I like to think she was saying you get what you deserve from the other inmates. Inmates who don't take kindly to baby killers. Inmates who don't mind telling you, showing you how they feel about that. I immediately loved that judge.

His father was sentenced to 40+, if I recall correctly. He also married her. After the trial. After she was found guilty of murdering his only son. He married her. Said he loves her so much. MARRIED HIS CHILD'S MURDERER! What. The. Fuck?

I was down in Tucson while he lay in the hospital dying. I feel so much....guilt? I don't know what the feeling is but he was in the hospital. Fighting for his life. While I was down there. How was I to know? I couldn't have known. I can't change the past. I just wish that I had known. I wish that I could have said goodbye. I wish so many things were different with this......shit. I know it's irrational to have guilt. Doesn't mean I don't feel it all the time when thinking of him.

So when I hear of child abuse happening, I always think of Donovan. I think of him everyday anyway but more so when I hear of others suffering the same horrible fate that he did. The Penn State tragedy is so horrific that I get nauseous thinking about it. Can we all agree to step in? If you see something happening, DO SOMETHING. If someone had just stepped in, bombarded CPS, the Attorney General, the Police, every single day, I like to think that he would be alive today.

Donovan meant so much to me. He still means something to me. To my family. To my friends.

Thank you for loving so openly, fully and vigorously. You are missed and loved oh so much.


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