Autumn is coming. I can feel it in the early morning air that frames the day’s heat, a crisp tingle that chills the sunrise. I can see it in the leaves beginning to fall from the trees in our yard.
This time of year always brings a very old memory I would like to forget of a boy on the cusp of beginning. A boy with an easiness to his smile, a boy racing toward adventures which await a boy of nearly 13. His photograph shows the sweetness of his smile looking out at a world that waited with who knew how many wonders.
He had worked so hard to be ready for his Bar Mitzvah, and to be as good as his older brother had been two years before at his coming of age.
He and his friend and classmate at Oakland Technical High School, Frank Oznowicz, were involved in puppeteering, making their own puppets and writing scripts for them. Frank would later be associated with Jim Henson of the Muppets, doing the voice of Miss Piggy and others.
The boy stayed home from school that morning with a cold, and his mother ran a quick errand to the corner grocery. Exactly what happened that morning we’ll never know. There was a gun in the house and the boy alone. He probably thought it was unloaded. It wasn’t. By the time his mother arrived back home, he was dead.
That death caused not even the smallest disruption in the rhythm of the days that structured our lives. One small boy disappearing from the face of the earth did not create a large emptiness in space.
I won’t belabor the statistics of gun deaths. You’ve heard them all and so have I. And by hearing them too often they become yet another accepted peril. We have to end the tragedies that the click of a trigger can create.
I realize that I may hear from those whose advocacy of firearms is a rationalization rooted in antiquated constitutional rights and the need for self protection.
When morning comes the weapons of their survival are slipped back into drawers or stuck up on closets, maybe loaded, maybe not, until the night comes again—or until a child’s hand reaches out.
The truth is sad, simple and undebatable: An entire family died that morning and a gun did it.