In one hour, the following things happened:
- Jamie's father-in-law called and had the cell phone numbers of Julian's father and of Julian's stepmother. He got them by talking to the medical examiners and funeral home. Sometimes it's good to be a chaplain.
- Julian's stepmother called me and we talked for a few minutes. She let me know that the family still wants to talk to me about Julian's final seconds, and that there was a community meeting tonight at the high school to discuss safety. I promised her I would be at the meeting and would see them there.
- Courtney Lavala at Houston's NBC affiliate, Local 2 Houston, called me to let me know about the school meeting. She also wanted to interview me about my experience and my feelings and reaction to living in this neighborhood. I declined the interview but she still went through the neighborhood and talked to some people. In particular there was one really hot chick with her two kids, and the hot chick said some really good stuff about coming together and saying no to violence. Yes, the hot chick was my wife. The kids were filmed playing in the yard and loved seeing themselves on the 6 o'clock news.
After that I finished some things in the office and then headed to the YMCA for a workout, which felt great. Then I got home just in time to spend some time with the kids before going to the community meeting.
The meeting was positive and well-attended (maybe 300 people?), although of course the media focused on the one idiot heckler who showed up. After it was over, Jamie and I got to spend about 30 minutes with Julian's family, just walking the school halls and listening to their cute and heartbreaking anecdotes.
They gave us t-shirts with Julian's picture and the DOB and date of death. Below his picture were the words, "I'm still alive". Last week he burned a CD of music for his sister, and that was the title he gave the CD.
It was a big day, and a very good one! We're really starting to get the sense of our neighborhood standing up and supporting the school, the kids and the local public service staff. Why can't we ever seem to get it together unless something terrible happens first? I guess for the same reason we don't really clean house thoroughly until company's coming over.
At least it's happening now! In the past 48 hours all local graffiti has been removed, three illegal dump sites have been cleaned up and some street lights have been fixed. If only we could keep this kind of attention to this stuff without continued tragedies.