Our Last “Huggin’ Lovin’” Time

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In the summer of 2012, I was awakened by a phone call at 4:00 in the morning that changed my life forever.

Calls made at 4 a.m. are usually not good news. My friend Anna, the mother of Bruce’s best friend, was on the line. She was hysterical and crying, I could hardly understand what she was saying. “Cheri! Come to Acacia Street now! Something happened,” she choked. Acacia Street was inside our village. I was still asking for an explanation when the line got cut.

I was a single mom with two wonderful sons. Bam, my eldest, was 20 years old, and then there was my bunso (youngest), Bruce. He was a funny, cool, and kind kid with a big, big heart. He was tall for his 14 years — almost six feet — yet I’d call him, “Baby Boy!” and he’d answer, “Mama Girl!” He had an exceptional sense of humor. He wore his hair with wild curls, decked his face with the best smile, and gave me hugs that never failed to brighten my day.

As my Bam and Bruce turned into teenagers, I saw less of them. They started to have their own plans and hung out with friends more. But it was OK as long as we’d have our “huggin’ lovin’” time. I’d usually jump onto Bruce’s bed and he’d wrap his long lanky legs around me and hug me tight. Then Kuya Bam would join us and I’d have the two most precious people in my life in each arm, hugging me and giving me sandwich kisses. This was heaven for me and I could die a happy woman right there.

But that morning, there were no happy thoughts. My heart was pounding hard with fear as I quickly got up, dressed, and headed out the door. I tried calling Bruce’s cell phone but I couldn’t connect. The night before, he asked me if he could sleep over at a friend’s house and I reluctantly agreed.

As I approached Acacia Street, I saw a commotion at the sidewalk. I parked my car and hurried to the site that was surrounded by cars, a few people, and a yellow tape that said “Do not cross,” the kind I only see in movies and tV crime scenes.

I walked towards the sidewalk and I saw my Brucey lying face down and unconscious on the pavement. It was every mother’s nightmare. He had a big bloody gash on his forehead and his nose was bleeding too. I also noticed his hand was severely bent and dislocated. I didn’t want to move him so I sat beside him, caressing his arm and wondering how many days he would be con ned in the hospital for this.

I looked to the left. More blood. And a lifeless boy on the pavement. It was the best friend of Bruce. To the right, there was another body — also a friend of Bruce. Further to the left I saw a crumpled car squeezed between a wall and an electric post.

I learned that there were four boys in that car, my Brucey and three of his friends, two of whom were brothers. They were driving home after hanging out, lost control, and crashed into a wall and an electric post. All four boys were hurled out of the car and onto the pavement.

Before I knew it, we were all in the ER. Family members of all four boys wailed as they paced the oor, others hugging each other. As the doctors tried to bring the boys back to life, I watched in silence as another medical team worked to revive my Brucey. A few minutes later, the doctor stopped. He looked at me and shook his head. The nurses stepped away and I walked towards Bruce in slow motion. A lady who was a hospital sta told me with a kind smile, “You can talk to him. He can still hear you.” I went to his lifeless body and whispered in his ear, “I love you, Bruce, I love you.”

I thought to myself, is can’t be happening. I couldn’t believe it. I never imagined a tragedy like this could ever happen to me and my boy. Why Bruce, why the brothers, and why were four precious lives taken away so soon, all at the same time? Bruce was the youngest at 14, his best friend was 15, and the other two friends were just 16. So many thoughts ran through my mind.

I couldn’t even cry. I was still in shock. My eldest son, Bam, finally arrived, and when I told him his brother was dead, he shouted and punched the floor. He broke his hand in the process and I hugged him. Then we hugged Bruce.

It was our last “huggin’ lovin’” time.

*This excerpt is taken from From Mourning to Morning: Your Partner in Grief and Hope by Cheri Roberto.

Featured photo from Unsplashed.com.

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It’s a tragedy that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. But it has befallen you. Death has taken your loved one, and your life, and your heart is shattered forever. Everything, everyone, places, events, and the
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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Teri

    my tears fell unchecked… ty for the lovely story.. for bravely sharing your sorrow.. God bless you more

  2. Robert sorsaia


    Thank you for your story. Please know my heart and prayers are with you. Please know Teri you will see him again in heaven please know he is always with you. You are a great mother. He is protecting you and watching over you and your other son and family. Your son is with Jesus Christ how do I know because god promised us. We are his children I know you want him wit you and your other son God has work for him he is praying for you and me. This I know keep his memory alive always. Again we will see him again. Know this talk to him always ok. God love you and your family you are in my prayers always please pray for me. Peace Robert S.

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