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 several years.
 
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 their house.
 
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 stunned.
 
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 probation.
 
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, hurtful memories
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 star,
Your laughter cascading
from far away galaxies to my ears·
Then in early morning hours
I wake to silence and I dread
Yet another day without you.
 
God, hear me please, and hold my child.
 
Sterlene Donahue, July 25, 1995     
 
 

 


 


 
 

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