Years ago, Jay taught Anita Franklin, a young nursing student. It was apparent to him even then that she had a bright future ahead of her.
And she did. She became a wonderful nurse. Years after Jay taught her, I met Anita as we were all teaching nursing.
I taught days and Anita taught evenings. Our overlaps became a joyful regular meeting. We talked about many things and we prayed together about the world around us.
In due time we went different directions in life. Neither of us could have predicted the world to come … and that the soft spoken, nurturing nurse and mother would become a vocal non-violence activist.
Anita’s son took a short cut through a park one night on his way home. He was killed, not as a designated target, but as a victim of violence around him.
Anita was devastated, but rose from the ashes of grief, determined he would not have died in vain. She forgave his killer. Her mission became to prevent anyone else from feeling the pain she felt.
She campaigned tirelessly to stop violence. In one of her most poignant speeches, she said, “We used to ask kids what they wanted to be when they grew up.” She then recounted asking that same question of a child today. His answer was, “Alive. I want to be alive.”
She said her mission was to get people to live in peace so they would not have to Rest In Peace.
Anita wrote a thank you to Jay not long before her unexpected death of a heart attack. She thanked him for believing in her so long ago. She told him, “You are a part of who I am today.”
After Anita’s death, a mural was placed in the park where Anita’s son was killed. Today, as the world is still reeling from the senseless killings in Texas, I felt the need to go to the park.
And so Jay and I went. The sun was shining. There was a gentle breeze. The playground was waiting … swings, slides, hop scotch patterns … but no children.
It was the same time of day Anita and I used to pray. And so we did again, joined by The Spirit that says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Here is the link to a remembrance of Anita.