This Mother's Day, I will go to church and spend time with my mother and my son, Calvin.
Calvin and I will reflect on the fun times he had my other son, Casson Xavier "Biscuit" Evans, who was killed in a drive-by shooting when he was only 3 years old. We will talk about how they interacted and what Casson would be doing if he were with us. We always conclude that, given the strength he demonstrated during his short life, Casson probably would have been in college with a full scholarship to play football.
And I will think about the man slated to spend the rest of his life in prison for Casson's death. He was a 14-year-old boy at the time of the crime. He recently asked if I will fill the role of mother in his life and I have agreed to do so.
Casson died on December 21, 1995. There had been shootings the night before in my niece's neighborhood in Denver and I had gone by to pick up her child. Casson was sleeping, so I left him and Calvin, who was 6, in the car with two older cousins — one 17 and the other 22. I had been inside only briefly when I heard gunshots. Casson was shot in the crossfire. He was dead within minutes.
Three children were arrested and held responsible. Raymond and Paul were 14; the driver, Damien, was 15. Both Raymond and Paul were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Four years ago, Raymond sent me a Mother's Day card. That card included a letter in which Raymond apologized for what happened and asked me to take on a mother role in his life. It was years before I was able to respond to that most difficult request.
Nearly a year ago, Calvin and I met with Raymond, whom investigators concluded fired the shot that killed Casson. He is now 33. We were the first participants in the pilot restorative justice program at the Colorado Department of Corrections. Raymond had to demonstrate accountability for what happened, genuine remorse and a willingness to repair the harm that he has caused. For us, restoration could come only through him answering many of the questions that had haunted us for years.