Empathizing with Trayvon Martin’s Parents

Everyone has probably heard everything they want to hear about the George Zimmerman trial — the jury’s verdict, the devastation of Trayvon Martin’s parents, the protests.

Who among us will ever know the truth of what really happened?

Only two people know the truth, and one of them is dead.

So many unknowns.  Here is where I empathize with Trayvon’s parents on a very personal level.

In September 1994, my firstborn nephew was 42 years old. He was a husband, father, son, brother, nurse, farmer and all-around good person. He was going about his day doing chores at the farm he shared with my brother, his father. His folks were out-of-town on vacation, and he had gone to feed the livestock and check the barn and house. Ordinarily, he would have taken his 11-year-old son with him but it was the first day of school and well, we do have our priorities.

There had been hints to his brother that someone was stalking him. He even indicated that his brother should not be surprised if the police called one day to say he’d been murdered.

That Labor Day weekend all he had suspected came true. It is still hard to think about. A mob-style murder with too many bullet wounds to count. Hopefully, instantaneous death. Gone from us forever — all the roles he filled now void of his contributions.

It took months to extradite the suspected murderer back to Tennessee from Louisiana where he had been in hiding, and then ensuing months of trial preparation. Finally, a trial date was scheduled. A jury was selected. Opening statements, testimony of witnesses, rebuttals, closing arguments. Finished.

The jury returned a not guilty verdict.

This even after the defendant shared with his wife and two teen-aged sons his plans to kill my nephew. The law said his wife could not testify against him. His wife did not want their sons involved in the trial. Likely, any testimony by these three persons would be refuted as hearsay anyway.

Much like Martin and Zimmerman, there were only two people who knew the truth. And one of them was dead. No evidence at the scene pointed directly to the defendant — no evidence of tire tracks other than my nephew’s, no fingerprints, no footprints, no gun was ever found, without a gun the ballistics at the scene were worthless.

I still find it difficult to put into words how it feels to lose a family member in this way, and then live with the knowledge no one is paying the price for that life evaporated by violence.

Yes, my heart goes out to Trayvon’s parents. I know something of how they must feel. However, our judicial system was designed to work the way it does. When the jury has spoken, the trial is over. But the pain of loss never stops. It lives on in our hearts and memories for a very long time.

These are our stories, our memories.

Q4U: Do you have a story to share today? Feel free to share it in the comments. I love hearing your stories.

19 thoughts on “Empathizing with Trayvon Martin’s Parents

    1. Linda, thank you for taking time to read this post. I appreciate your comments and the affirmation that the hidden things will one day be understood.

  1. Amazing: parallel stories and one so close to your heart, Sherrey. It truly makes the words “Healing by Writing” come to life. I saw Trayvon’s parents in a TV interview yesterday and was touched by their loving spirit in spite of it all. Like you, they must have a strong faith to carry them through. Being the victim of injustice has to be a hard cross to carry.

    1. Marian, “parallel stories” so accurately describes what I was attempting to share. I saw a bit of that same interview and was struck by their ability to speak so calmly and with love. Thanks for your understanding and your words of comfort.

  2. Sherrey, your heart is so wide and deep. And posting this story at this time is one way to reach out to a family that millions of us in America are thinking about and caring about. Thank you. Your ability to empathize helps others do the same. Now to do the work of justice in any small way we can.

    1. Shirley, your words are generous and appreciated. Justice is such a simple act, beginning with teaching our children to be kind and respectful. Yet it seems somehow our country wants to be more judicious but have become too busy with self-interests. Perhaps the President’s comments today and newspaper articles like the one you shared will be a good beginning. I hope so.

  3. This is such a sad story, Sherrey. My heart goes out to you and your family. And like you and your nephew’s case, I feel we will never know the real truth about the Martin Zimmerman. Hopefully Karma will intervene one these days.

    1. Madeline, there are some things in this life about which the truth will never be revealed. Perhaps that is for the better in some instances. Thank you for your kind and gracious words.

  4. How sad, Sherrey. As the jurors found in the Martin/Zimmerman trial, their hands were tied by the law. In the M-Z case, it appears both parties were guilty of foolish acts that tragically left one dead and one in a prison of his own making the rest of his life. Sadness for all and all who watch, and how painful for you to see this and relive this terrible past experience. Lack of justice is an added injury.

    1. Linda, how good of you to stop by and share your thoughts on this post. Justice is a powerful figure, after all she holds in her hands the balance of this country’s people. Somehow we seem to struggle with understanding the justice held in the hands of the people.

  5. Oh Sherrey – what a terrible thing to have happen. You are right, in both cases only two people know the truth (one of them being dead). No matter what happened in the Martin case, two parents are hurting. They’ve lost a son. They want answers.
    Yet as you say, the justice system has spoken. We don’t always get it right, but I believe we have one of the best systems in the world.
    I’m sorry for the loss to your family.
    Blessings,
    Joan

    1. Joan, thanks for stopping by and reading. In so many other countries and places, the lack of justice is enormous. We are blessed to live where we at least have the system we do have.
      I miss you and your writing. Do hope you’re enjoying a relaxing summer. Blessings on your down time!

      1. Thanks, Sherrey. I hope to get back into the swing of things soon. Summer has been a relaxing time for me – just what I have needed.

  6. Thank you for such a moving post and I can’t begin to imagine the devastation for your family. As I live in the UK I don’t know anything about the case that you mention but I presume it has been hot news over there.

    1. Jade, yes, it has been hot news and news I have tried to avoid, but in this day of media hype and so many ways to have the news delivered, avoidance isn’t easy. I appreciate your taking the time to read and comment.

  7. Hi Sherrey, thank you for visiting my blog and inviting me to read your post. What a terrible crime. I can only imagine your devastation and disappointment and that of the Martin family as well. It’s got to hurt to have a senseless crime like this go unpunished. The only consolation is that the Ultimate Judge will eventually have his say. Hugs to you dear friend.

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