Immediate h/t to this diary, inspiring me to share this story with you all. The question of guns and gun-violence in this country is personal to me, and I feel compelled to share what I am able to.
In 2005, a two year old boy named Nyquest Golden from Syracuse, NY was shot in an allegedly gang-related shooting. According to reports, a bullet shot into his home entered his back and exited through an eye. Suffering permanent paralysis and irreparable brain damage, Nyquest's impoverished family had no choice. The boy became a ward of the State of New York, living for years in a county-run nursing home.
I met Nyquest a few times over the last few years in my occupation. I cannot say much more than that which is already publicly available information, but I can say how heart-wrenching it is to see a nine year old boy crippled, irrevocably brain-damaged, living in a nursing home. Fed through a tube, unable to speak, living, but not alive. A boy with no family, no one left to love him, and yet a story with a good ending.
In 2005, in what police describe as a gang-related shooting, gunmen opened fire on a house on Wall St., in the city of Syracuse, NY. Inside the house, two year old Nyquest Golden suffered a gunshot wound to the head. It entered the back of his head and exited through one of his eyes. Nyquest was rushed to the hospital where, amazingly yet tragically, he survived.
Nyquest's injuries and subsequent disabilities were severe, too severe for his impoverished family. With multiple health issues requiring constant management as a result of his injuries, Nyquest became a ward of the State of New York. Since his release from the hospital, Nyquest lived in a county-run nursing home.
Five years later, in 2010. 20 month old Rashad Walker, Jr., sat in his car seat in his father's minivan.
Not a week before, a 19 year old Henninger High School basketball star Khiray Blue was gunned down in a car on Interstate 81. Khiray was fatally wounded. His family donated his organs.
Rashad Walker Jr., at 20 months old, was shot in the head in retalation for the death of Khiray Blue. Rashad Jr., died at the hospital a few days later.
Nyquest lived for seven years in a government run nursing home. For seven years, brain damaged, mute, paralyzed and plagued with health issues, Nyquest's only family were a dedicated few public servants. I recall fondly every time I met Nyquest. I have generally little good to say about nursing home staff, but every time I had the privilege of meeting Nyquest, the love of the staff for this boy was palpable. Every time I met him, it broke my heart, but at the same time, filled it. Nyquest was truly golden to everyone who met him, from the underpaid and underfunded civil servants at the nursing home to the wonderful people at our local pediatric hospital. Everyone who met him loved him, including me.
So it should come as no surprise that late this year, Nyquest Golden found someone who could truly take him in as family. This November, a 67-year old anonymous single mother adopted Nyquest. This, a woman with five other adopted special needs children, at an age almost all of us would think is time to settle into peaceful retirement, decides to take on this oh-so-special case and give a child a family he never had. I do not know that Nyquest even has the cognitive presence to realize this gift for what it is, but my instinct is to believe that he is happy.
Guns and gun violence, and all the politics surrounding them, are quite personal to me. I have seen, first hand, the destruction they bring. It angers me to see the physical destruction a bullet can cause, but as a professional, it is entirely clinical and impersonal. It is the survivors, their hardships, and the emotional hardships of the families of the victims that truly inflame. I have seen in raw terms the destruction a bullet can cause to the human body, but it is nothing compared to the raw grief that same bullet causes in those of us that survive.
We can easily victimize the dead, because they are dead and do not feel anymore. We all too often forget the victims that survive, and all of us out here that are tasked with caring for THEM, we feel pain too. Then our families feel the pain we feel for the pain the families feel.
Thus one person is killed... but we are all wounded.