The first time the home room mother called I didn’t even hear the phone ring. The second time I sent it to voicemail. I figured I could get back to her later since this was the last time the kids were seeing their Mimi before we left to head back to Oklahoma. Shortly after, I received a text message. It said:
“I just wanted to let you all know about the death of one of our kids’ classmate. Malik was beaten to death by his stepfather last week. He was in Ms. Taylor’s class. I just wanted to give everyone a heads up before school starts.”This was not the text I was expecting to read. Not at all! I’m not real sure what I was expecting but I assure you this was not it. I was unable to contain my shock and I exclaimed, “Oh my god!” Of course, then those sitting near me wanted to know what was wrong. So I, being one of those people that lack the gift of tact, share the text with the table including my children. Unfortunately, I would have shared this with them even at Disney World on the Tea Cups because, hey, that’s life. I’m not good at sugar coating things.
For the next hour, my kids go about their business playing ski ball and token launchers. Everything seems to be normal.
Later when we arrived back at Paw-Paw’s house, things got real. Part of me hoped that the homeroom mother was confused and was just going on a false rumor but upon going to the KSWO website I found more reality than I was able to swallow. What I discovered was sad and it built up a sense of hatred for this man, Lancey D. Ray, pictured here,.
My son came into the room and we talked about it. I can only imagine how hard it was for his young mind to process this. The thought process in charge of making the connections between his friend and his parents and the fact that the kid was beaten to death by one or both of them must have been confusing and terrifying. Those were the people that were supposed to protect that boy, not end him.
My son went on to tell me about a time Malik came to school with bruises on his face. He had told my son and their other friends that over the weekend his family was play fighting. Another time, my son said he came to school missing a fingernail and he said he had smashed his finger in the door.
After he read it, he cried a little and asked me why Malik’s dad did that to him. I told him I didn’t know for sure. What was I supposed to say to him? I have no idea what would possess someone to beat a child to death, to lose control like that. After awhile, I walked my son back to his room and tucked him back into bed.
After we made it back to Oklahoma, I read more about the horrible crime on KSWO. I found that Ray was accused of beating Malik with a leather belt and a cutting board that day because he wouldn’t eat his lunch. What’s worse was when it was released that the mother, the boy’s own flesh and blood, had also broken a piece of wood over his backside that same day.
At first, I must admit, I assumed mom, Denise, was a victim too. However, I do not think it excused her for allowing her child to be beat. First off, the step father was a soldier in the army which means he was gone frequently between deployments and trips to the field. She had the chance to escape that house with her children. Yes, there were two other younger children in that home, 5 and 6, which are now in protective custody. Thank goodness!
It also concerns me that no one at the school was aware of this. I mean, my son and his friends...10 year olds, noticed bruises. Why didn’t an adult?
Later, he told me that he disclosed all the information about the bruises and the missing fingernail to the counselor. He said that the counselor’s told him that they would have to turn the information over to the police. The counselor met with me to let me know that there was a small possibility that my boy would be asked to give a statement and possibly testify in court with my permission.
It is really alarming what happened to Malik. I never had the pleasure of meeting him. Even though he lived around the corner, he was never allowed to play when my son went to call on him. My son said Malik was a good student and one of the top readers in the class.
My son’s last memory of his friend was the last day of school before winter break when Malik said, “Happy birthday!” and handed over a bag of popcorn he didn’t want. “It’s not my birthday.”, my son says. Then he says Malik said to him, “Well, take it in case I don’t see you for your birthday.” Later, my son would ask me if I thought maybe Malik knew he wasn’t coming back.
The poor kid has been having his sleep disturbed by dreams. He says sometimes he sees Malik in his room. Sometimes he says he dreams of him. He’s woken up a few times very upset and I have had to sit with him on the sofa trying to comfort his heart with soothing words and a listening ear. It’s not fun and hope fate gives me a break in loss for a while so that our family, especially my boy, can heal. The year 2010 was very sad for us with my husband’s grandmother passing away but it was even more difficult for my son with the passing of his friend. Hopefully, 2011 will be less trying.
The following is poem I have shared with my son. I found it after Maw-Maw died and it help to ease some of the pain in my heart. Being agnostic, I don’t necessarily believe in heaven or hell. I do believe that energy is constant and whatever is inside of us, I guess in a sense it’s your soul, it becomes one with everything else. As for the organic part of you, it too becomes part of everything else as in ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Are we clear? Yeah. I didn’t think so. Anyway…here’s the poem.
His Journey’s Just Begun
Don’t think of him as gone away
His journey’s just begun
Life holds so many facets
This existence is only one
Just think of him as resting
From the pain and tears
In a place of warmth and comfort
Where there are no days or years
Think of how he must be wishing
That we could know today
How nothing but our sadness
Can truly pass away
And think of him as living
In the hearts of all of us
For nothing loved is ever lost
And he was loved so much.
RIP Malik Ray.
Your friend misses you.
Hopefully, I'll be able to do a brief update in March when Lancey D. Ray goes to trial and I hope that Denise Ray doesn't get out of going to trial as well. We'll have to wait and see.
An update can be found here.