Speak Up: ‘Don’t let this happen to another family’

By Jessica Cross

How does a mother begin to express what the death of her child means? The impact is has on her life? Her children’s’ lives? An impact that doesn’t go away in five years…10 years…15 years? There are sincerely no words for watching that casket lower slowly into the cold ground…that was one of many of the worst moments.

Caleb was a beautiful, bright, young man. He lived life to the very fullest. He held no grudges and had no animosity towards others – including that night he was shot. His voice was accidentally recorded as the first responders questioned him, “who did this? Who did this to you?” His response to them was, “It doesn’t matter. It’s over.”

I’ve lost 6 children. I’ve miscarried 5, one of which is buried in the same, small, family cemetery in Texas that Caleb is.  Sorrow has attempted to plague my entire life, but I assure you I serve a God that is a great God, who carries all my sorrow and all my pain. Who has blessed me with beautiful, vibrant children, both here on earth and above in heaven.

Caleb’s loss has been and continues to be both horrific and unfathomable. I would give anything to hug him and hold him in my arms one more time. I’d give anything to spend those afternoons with him in my office, with me working and him trying to help… I’d give anything to not purposefully drive up that alley every day…the same one I drove up that night to meet the ambulance with my son who was bleeding to death… I’d give anything not to look over from my work’s back door, every single morning, less than 40 feet from me, to not see the place my child was shot and killed. There are so many things in this life we don’t want. But it is our choice to linger in the past, or to move forward and cope.

I refuse to have PTSD…so I choose to drive up that alley every single day. I refuse to have sorrow or depression, so I look to that place my child was shot, and acknowledge there was a great life that lived there; an amazing life, full of love and peace and acceptance of others.

But there are still effects on our lives for all of this. There are questions why. There is confusion that lingers. There is frustration that the state of New Mexico allows anyone, no matter of age, to escape from deserved consequences by declaring PTSD, difficult childhood, unfortunate circumstances, or any other excuse.

The taking of another person’s life is quite considerably, by any reasonable standards, the ultimate crime and should call for and demand prolonged, serious rehabilitation.

I am displeased with New Mexico legislation as a whole. New Mexico has some of the most lax laws. I am displeased that a person can receive a more severe penalty for abusing an animal than abusing a human. New Mexico law is pitiful at best. This state is a perpetrator’s best friend and a victim’s worst nightmare. One thing I would love to see, are the statistics on rehabilitated “youth offenders.” I want to know the percentage that “re-offend.” I would love for New Mexico to prove to me its “system” of rehabilitation works and, if it does, why isn’t ever other state in the US following along?

My sorrow will be, if this happens to another family in the future, no one will have stopped this from happening again. I sincerely do not want another mother, wife, brother, sister, or loved one to ever walk this road at the hand of this young man. I sincerely don’t want any other person to walk this road…ever.

Editor’s note: Jessica Cross is a family nurse practitioner and the owner/operator of Main Street Medical Center in Red River. Her son, Daniel Caleb Williams, was shot and killed April 19, 2015.

Teen who shot Caleb Williams to be detained until age 21