A Mother’s Love, A Son’s Regret: The Lost Letters (Revised Version)- Excerpt

 "A Mother's Love, A Son's Regret" (Excerpt)
By. Corey Porter

As a child, I was disrespectful. Words like shut-up, you make me sick, and I hate you had become included in my daily vocabulary. I would often tell her she was annoying. Showing off while my friends were present for laughs, as I would say to her, "get out of my room!" I felt empowered, grown, cool which is everything a teen wants to feel like.
I would often forget her birthday. She never reminded me, so I treated it like it was just another day.
I don't know what made her so annoying to me. Oh wait, I remember. My mother would always try to correct or change me. She would say, "Don't hang around this person, or don't hang around that person." The lectures were never-ending. My mother would say, "Don't smoke this, or don't drink that." She would ask, "Did you do your homework? Did you fill out more job applications today?" It was a dream of mine that one day I wouldn't have to hear her voice every morning, nagging and complaining.
She would always leave me notes on the refrigerator, reminding me of everything I thought I already knew. She would write, "Do the dishes, clean your room, take out the garbage, LOOK FOR A JOB; I Left you $10 on the kitchen table."
My mother would also sign "Mom Loves You" and encourage me to read Exodus 20:12. 

I knew it was a scripture, but I never opened the Bible to see what Exodus 20:12 read. I thought the Bible was for old people.
I never reciprocated my love for her. I'm sure she knew I loved her.
I mean, I am her son, right? She had to know my love for her.

Now what I'm about to tell you changed my life forever. At the time, I was 19 years of age, driving with some friends I had known since elementary school. 
One of my friends in the car told us about someone who owed him money for the weed he had sold them.
 He was saying, "When I see him, I'm killing him!" 
We laughed it off and never thought anything else about it. We were just some immature teens with our whole lives ahead of us.
We arrived at a stop sign next to a gas station. One of my friends driving with us says to the other friend, "Is that the kid who owes you money? He's standing right there!"
"Yeah, that's him! Let me out of the car," he said. 
We all sat in the car with excitement, thinking we were about to see a fight.
My friend walks towards the kid, never saying a word. He pulls out a gun and shoots the kid once in the head. "BANG!!!!!" The kid falls to the ground. Blood began flowing out of his head, mouth, and nose. My friend runs back to the car, yelling, "Drive! Drive! Drive!" It was pure chaos in that car. Everybody was yelling and screaming, except for me. 
I was speechless. No words would come out of my mouth. I was in shock.

The driver of the car was now driving 80 mph, running red lights, and stop signs.
I told them, "Let me out of the car!"
I walked for 3 hours, crying profusely. Police were driving throughout the city frantically. The sound of sirens was the only sound you could hear. "He murdered that kid," I kept repeating to myself.

When I finally got home, my mother was lying on the sofa watching the news.
My eyes were now dry but still red from crying.
My mother says, "I'm so glad you're home. A young kid was just murdered by the gas station." She covered her mouth, shaking her head as she watched the news reporter at the scene of the crime. "I feel horrible for that young man's mother," my mother softly said to herself. I began to walk up the stairs towards my room, and my mother says, "I see your eyes. Don't bring that garbage into my house!" She assumed my eyes were red from smoking weed, not knowing I was crying.
I stayed in my room the entire night.

I felt scared and nervous as my stomach rumbled. I knew someone had to see us drive away from the scene. My gut told me that it was only a matter of time before the police found out who killed that boy.

It was 3:06 in the morning when I heard the repeated banging on the door. Bang! Bang!! BANG!! "Open up! It's the Police!" 
My mother grabs her house robe and runs to see who is banging violently on our door.
"How can I help you, officer?" my mother nervously asked.
One of the 6 police officers who were standing on our porch asked, "Ma'am is your son home?"
"Yes, what is this about?" my mother asked.
"Ma'am, your son was involved in a homicide," the police officer replied.

The scream that my mother let out was like a sound I've never heard. It sounded like agonizing pain. The pain of a heart breaking into too many pieces to repair. I caused this hurt and felt ashamed.
The officers handcuffed me and led me to the police car, where I was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

I was held in the county jail for 6 months before my trial started. Those were long anxious months. While in the county jail, I remember seeing my friend who was responsible for committing the murder.
He was charged with second-degree murder as well. I remember him saying to me, "Don't snitch. If we all keep quiet, we'll all go home." I agreed, and I never saw him again until our trial.

After 6 long months of waiting, I finally had a trial date. The trial took a week, and my mother was there every day. She spent all of her savings to get me a lawyer. I appreciated her. I mistreated my mother most of my life, yet she was the only one in the courtroom there to support me. I felt ashamed, and I didn't deserve her love. I've told her I hated her. 
I've told her I wished she were dead.
I've disrespected her in so many ways, and yet she sat in that courtroom just for me. She told me time after time, "Don't hang around this person or don't hang around that person." "Don't smoke this, or don't drink that." At that moment, I could hear all her warnings clear as I sat with my life in the judge's hands.

The verdict was in. "GUILTY!"
 My so-called friend who actually committed the murder implicated the rest of us for a lesser sentence.
I was sentenced to 15 years in prison for a murder my friend committed. My mother was broken. I was selfish. I never knew my actions would cause her so much pain.

Weeks would turn into months, months into years, and my mother would visit me every weekend. She would bring me money for the commissary and boxes filled with my favorite snacks.
Each day, another letter would arrive at the prison for me. It would be my mother encouraging me to stay focused and out of trouble. We would play spades and UNO every time she would visit. Photos of us laughing hung on the wall of my cell.
As we ate chips and microwavable sandwiches, we would imagine the day I left this dreadful place. I watched my mother's hair turn from black to gray as years would come and go.
One day, when she came to visit me, I said, "Ma, I love you more than life. I'm sorry for being an ungrateful, horrible son. I've put you through so much pain and sorrow because I was too stupid to listen. 
I don't deserve the love you have shown me my entire life. Forgive me, Ma. Please forgive and forget all of the horrible things I've said to you.
I love you, Ma."

She replied, "I forgave you a long time ago. You see, son, I only wanted what was best for you. I only wanted you to become the best person you can possibly be.
I never wanted to annoy you or make you angry, but I will never stop being your mother. I will never stop telling you what is right and what is wrong. I love you, son. If it took 10 years in prison for you to recognize what true love looks like, then It was all worth it."

On May 23rd, 2003, I was released from prison after serving 13 years. I was 32 years old. My mother was standing there as I walked out of that prison with her arms open wide.
That small old lady with glasses and white hair never gave up on me. Now I know what Exodus 20:12 said in the Bible.

"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you."- Exodus 20:12

I eventually went on to graduate from college in 2008 with a creative writing degree. The day I walked across that stage was the proudest day of not only my life but my mother's as well.

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