October 22, 1970 - September 15, 1991
- This beautiful child was mine
just for a short time. I guess when someone enriches
your life, teaches you about love and commitment, and loves
you unconditionally as this child loved me, then forever would
have been too short a time. I know that he waits for me
and is in a better place, but I am still here and I am still
without him, so I am still in pain.
- Texas came to live with my
three daughters and me when he was 16 years old. I met
him the year before when he was with my nephew who was helping
me build a fence on my property. I didn't think too much
at the time - he was just a skinny kid and after that one day
of work, I didn't see him again for several months. To
make a very involved story less so, Texas had dropped out of
school and needed a job and a place to stay. My Dad
called and asked if he (Texas) could work for me and stay at
my house to help him get on his feet. I said he could
stay for three months, but after that amount of time, he
should be able to get his own place.
- Upon his arrival, I informed
Tex that if he got out of line, even looked at one of my
daughters wrong, or didn't work, then he was out. He
agreed to my terms, but he had an attitude about it all.
I didn't know at the time, but that attitude was a veneer to
protect him from all the hurt and distrust he had endured in
his 16 young years.
- Texas was a good worker and I
never had to tell him twice to get up and get ready for work.
He rode to and from work with me. The first several
weeks we rode together, the only discussions we had pertained
to the job or we would squabble over who had control of the
radio. I noticed that he kept a close watch on my
interaction with "the girls" (my daughters) and he
observed more than he talked. Soon, though, he loosened up a
bit and we chatted on the way to and from work. He
started asking the girls questions about the school they
attended and what the kids around Katy, Texas were like.
I was making some observations of my own and I realized that
Tex was letting his guard down bit by bit. One day, Tex
and I had the day off and when the girls came home from
school, we were standing in the laundry room talking about
their day. I had one arm around Stephanie and one arm
around Kelly and we were laughing about something or other
when I noticed that while Tex was watching us, he was moving
very slowly, closer and closer. He seemed to be totally
caught up in the moment. Finally, I turned to him and
said, "Texas, do you need a hug?" and he said,
"Yes ma'am". I held out my arms and when he
stepped into that embrace, he stepped into my heart. My
arms enfolded him and I fell in love.
- It was then and then only
that I came to know about this child of my heart and where he
had come from.
- Texas' biological mother
killed her fourth husband in front of Tex when he was four
years old. She was high on drugs and shot the man in the
neck. Tex testified against her in trial and she was
convicted of murder and sentenced to TDCJ (Texas Department of
Criminal Justice). Tex was 'sentenced' to foster homes
for the next ten years. Occasionally, he would live with
his maternal grandfather, but for the most part, he was
shuffled from one foster home to another. He never knew
his biological father, but he had a half-brother and
half-sister somewhere around Dallas that he had not seen for
- When he was 13, his mother
got out of prison, but she didn't contact him for nearly a
year after she was out. She had met a man at the halfway
house where she was paroled to, and they moved in together.
It was afterwards that they found Tex and brought him into
- From what I was told by Tex,
it was pretty rough. He and his stepfather didn't get
along well and punishments could be pretty brutal. When
he was 14, the stepfather beat Tex up and threw him out of the
house. He lived in the woods and slept in abandoned
houses or with friends until my nephew befriended him.
That's how he ended up with us.
- The following school year,
Texas wanted to enroll in school. I had to fight to get
him admitted, but we made it and soon he and his
"sisters" were riding the bus together every day.
He settled into our home quite comfortably and before the
school year started, he asked if he could call me
"Mom". That was just fine with me, but when he
decided to tell people that I was married to the girls' Dad,
divorced him after my oldest was born, had Tex in another
"marriage", divorced again and remarried the girls'
Dad, I put my foot down. The next year, though, he
approached me about adopting him. I had already
considered that option and told him I would be honored to.
We started the proceedings.
- The second year of school, he
began an English assignment about his life with, "I was
born when I was sixteen years old to Sterlene Donahue."
I told him how good that made me feel and told him that I
truly had given birth to him - in my heart.
- The next few years sailed
along quite well. He was there when my oldest daughter
was married. He was still there a year later for the
birth of my first grandchild. He was there when I broke
my back and neck in a car wreck. He was the first person
I saw when I woke up after surgery in the hospital. I
was there when he fell in love with Amy. I was there
when he graduated Katy High School in June of 1991.
- September 14, 1991,
Tex called me and said he was going to go to Simonton, Texas,
to the rodeo. Simonton is a small town south of Katy,
Texas and every night during the warm weather, they have a
small rodeo followed by a dance. He wanted to know if I
would go along, but since I was still in a body brace, I
declined the invitation. Before we hung up, he said,
"I love you, Mom." I replied, "I love
you, too, boy."
- At 12:35 a.m., I was on my
knees saying my prayers. My daughter, Stephanie was
asleep in the king-sized bed next to me. She hadn't
slept in my bed in years, but she just decided to that night.
I got into bed and had just dozed off when the phone rang.
It was a friend of Texas', John Matthews, and he said, "Sterlene,
don't get excited. Tex has been shot."
Confused, I said, "Shot? Where?" (meaning where on
his body) and John said, "In the parking lot at
Simonton." I asked where Texas was and he said,
"He's being life-flighted to Hermann Hospital."
Well, I know you don't get life-flighted unless it's serious.
I told Stephanie to "get up, your brother's been
shot." I called Amy, his girlfriend, and they were
getting dressed to go to the hospital.
- My parents drove us because
of my body cast and the ride to the hospital seemed like an
eternity. We beat the life-flight helicopter to the
hospital and we were ushered into a small room to wait.
Soon the room filled up with Texas sisters and brother-in-law,
his beloved Amy and her Dad and brother. I kept asking
the hospital employees how he was, but all they would say is,
"It doesn't look good." I sat praying,
"God, just let him breathe one more breath. He's
strong, he can make it. Please, God." I decided to
go check and see what was taking so long. When I walked
out of the room, I saw that the hall was lined, literally with
25 - 30 people, friends of Tex and their parents. I was
- When I got to the area where
the doctor's were working on Tex, a life-flight attendant
grabbed me and tried to make me sit down. I was
determined to find my son and tried to pull away. A
nurse saw what was happening and told him, "leave her
alone - don't you know her son just died?" That's
how I found out that my precious son was forever gone. I
felt like my soul had been ripped from my body. I didn't
know there could be such agony; a pain so intense that it hurt
physically. I turned and went back down that hall and as
I passed, I couldn't speak. I just shook my head as I
passed and as I did, I could hear the sobs behind me. I
walked into the little room, looked at my family and Amy; they
were sort of half-smiling, expecting me to say everything was
o.k., but all I could say is, "He didn't make it."
I'll carry Amy's scream and the sounds of that night's anguish
with me to my grave.
- Two days later, I buried my
child, my heart. Two years later, the man who shot and
killed my son, pled guilty to murder and received ten years
- Beautiful child,
I held you, comforted you,
- Delighted in you.
- The twinkle in your eye,
- A smile on you lips,
- The sound of your voice·.
- All are precious,
- That I fear will dim.
- God mourns for me,
- But cannot comfort me.
- The son weeps with me,
- But Angels rejoice
- Your presence.
- And some nights I dream
- of you racing through
- The heavens,
- Leaping from star to
- Your laughter cascading
- from far away galaxies
to my ears·
- Then in early morning
- I wake to silence and I
- Yet another day without
- God, hear me please, and
hold my child.
- Sterlene Donahue, July
times since July 31, 2000