What was on 12-year-old Genesis Rincon's mind en route to the store for a cold soda Saturday night with her sister and a friend in Paterson? Maybe it was completing the task quickly so she could continue enjoying the night, perhaps watching post Independence Day fireworks paint the sky; or simply enjoying a family event at her aunt's house less than one block away from where the cruelest of family tragedies would take place seconds later? Maybe the movie she and her friends would be watching at a theater the next day, probably the popular Transformers? Or perhaps the cute boy she exchanged puppy love looks with earlier in the week at McDonald's.
Whatever her thoughts were they certainly did not involve being the target of a missile that would snuff all life from her brain and render the 12-year-old all but dead. In one of life's cruelest ironies, body organs can function for years via machines after the brain ceases working, and someone makes the gut wrenching decision to shut down the machines as one would shut off the bedroom light at night. That heartbreaking decision was made by her family on Monday night after exhausting the millionth prayer for a miracle that young Genesis would wake and say, “I Love You, Mama.” But that only happens on Hallmark movies. Realistically, Genesis' family agreed to have Genesis live on in a sense by donating some of her organs to people whose lives would be extended.
Parents aren't supposed to have face such decisions for their child, especially one so young that she has yet felt the joy of graduating elementary school. She hadn't shared her first dinner date at McDonald's with the first of her many bboyfriends. She was cheated out of a Sweet 16 party, a prom, a high school graduation and dreaming about college, careers and the true love she will wed.
Twelve year olds surely don't think about bullets destroying their brains. They don't think about their tearful moms, siblings and other family members desperately hugging their bodies, begging the Lord for the impossible miracle that will return the smile to their lifeless eyes that minutes before just sparkled with the fireworks of youth. Twelve year olds think they are going to live forever, not become the targets of wayward bullets and the subject of nighttime vigils and funerals in which memories bring painful tears.
This Friday, Genesis Rincon will be the “celebrant” of such an event in which her life will be recalled through tears, through anger, through spiritualism, through insurmountable amount of grief.
According to newspaper and TV reports, a 19-year-old turned himself in for allegedly committing the shooting, which thus far has been described as one that young Genesis was not the intended target. Now there is talk in the media that the alleged gunman claims he didn't do the shooting, which means a circus disguised as court actions by money grubbing ringmasters called lawyers.
So again, the inner city loses a child much earlier than life naturally ends. I loved and lived for those children in Paterson for the 14.5 years before heinous lies, disability prejudice and hateful incompetence by professionals whose titles would surprise you won out over honor, truth and love. I will be exonerated, and this piece is not about me.
No, it is about the loss of a 12-year-old whose death brought me to tears, as it did hundreds of others. The shooter needs every pound of punishment the law can slap on his back, not some legal wizardry by lawyers, whose scales are now measured by the dollars they can get from their clients.
This, too, is another story for another time.
No, this is an ode of sorts to an angel who received her wings way too early, just as several Paterson high school seniors were recently celebrated for their graduations by their parents clutching their caps and gowns instead of watching them march with their fellow celebrants to receive their diplomas because violence turned proud achievement into tragic farewells.
And there were other young victims here, there and nearly everywhere.
When, my Lord, when will our young get to enjoy the fruits of being youngsters without their lives being cut short and celebrated via a few memories many tears and candlelight vigils?
Genesis, Rest in Peace.
You didn't know me, but I'll never forget you. Rest in Peace.
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