By Dylan Deprey
There is no bond stronger than a mother’s unconditional love. Even after the hugs and laughs, and tears and tantrums, when that bond is torn in a moment’s notice, seconds become hours and memories fade.
When a mother tragically loses her child, grieving becomes less of a step-by-step healing process and more of a mental battle each and every day.
As Mother’s Day comes with flowers and gifts, and barbecues and brunches, for a mother who has tragically lost a child, it was a day that held an achy happiness.
The Original Black Panthers of Milwaukee catered to five mothers who had lost their children in the community for the second annual Black Panther’s Mother’s Day Extravaganza. Antoinette Roberts, Leesha Love, Larticia Robinson, Carrie Scott-Hanley and Gwendolyn Thomas were all treated to a professional hair and nail makeover as well as a five-star dinner with the Black Panthers.
“I think it’s important that the queens know we are behind you 100 percent because we support you, we respect you and we will do anything that we need to just to be there for you,” said King Rick, Original Black Panther general. “I know in times like this, it’s heartbreaking and heart wrenching that we as a community cannot come together to solve the social and economic conditions that plague us.”
Every mother had a different story, and each had to live through the traumatic experience of losing a child to violence or neglect.
For the second year in a row, Angela Jackson volunteered her staff’s services at Naturally Naps Hair Salon (5804 W. Forest Home Ave.)
Jackson said she enjoyed helping out in her community. She added that Naturally Naps Salon participation in the second Mother’s Day Extravaganza was a total no-brainer.
“Just because I am where I am doesn’t mean I can’t be there for them,” Jackson said. “I want them to be happy because I can’t change what happened to them, but I can give them something for one day.”
Several of the mothers met with the Courier before the event to share their children’s story and describe the struggles of keeping a calm headspace after losing a child.
The mothers agreed they were set back when the Black Panthers reached out to them, but felt grateful for the opportunity.
“When I read his e-mail, I cried,” Robinson said. “It touched me in a way.”
Robinson lost her 19- year-old son, Devante Reed, to gun violence. Reed was gunned down on his mother’s front porch and died in her arms. She said she still has his bloody t-shirt unwashed because it was still a traumatic experience.
Roberts lost her son, Kindell Jefferson-Roberts, when he was only two-years-old. While extended family member were downstairs supposedly be watching her son, he was playing on a bunk bed and accidentally fell while coming down.
“When you sit, and think, it’s really a blessing,” Roberts said. “Some people are not able to help someone else, and this is helping us mother’s feel a little better about our situation.”
Roberts said as the years went on the loss was just as familiar as the day her son passed.
“Every year it gets harder and harder because it’s like another year that he’s not here,” Roberts said. “Just the fact that back-to-school shopping will never happen and prom preparation is out of the question. I won’t have his grandchildren, I won’t have a school picture, I won’t have anything.”
Love said that even on adventures with her 3-yearold son, who was a spitting image of her son Justin Evans Jr., the sadness and loss remained close.
Evans Jr. was only 6-years-old when he was struck by a stray bullet.
“Everything you do reminds you of your child you just lost,” Love said.
She said that even after fun trips with her son, like going to Chuck E. Cheese, the sadness and loss crept through cracks.
“I would just sit in my car before I pull off and think, ‘I just had tons of fun without my child,’ and it’s not the same anymore,” Love said. “For my baby, not to be able to play with his older brother like he used to, brings me to tears.”
Having listened to the mother’s stories, tears were met with subtle laughs and encouraging advice.
“You queens are so strong because I can’t even imagine what you went through, and I bow to you,” Rick said.
Though the road to healing was a rocky one, the Panther’s ensured that for one day, the loss these mothers felt hurt a little less.
This story is dedicated to all of the mothers who have lost a child, Justin Evans Jr., Audrey “Tu Tu” Scott, Kindell Jackson and Devante Reed.