By Lakhram BhagiratKwesi LawrenceThere is an indescribable pain associated with losing a child. It is one that many try to describe but fail. The pain envelops your entire body and weasels its way into every nook and cranny. It makes every breath taken feel as though thousands of needles are piercing your body.But as a parent, how does one move on after losing a child?The answer to that question is yet to be found by the millions seeking it.For almost 13 years, Venice Sam has been searching everywhere for that answer and it seems as though she will be searching for the rest of her life. Part of her world went dark on Sunday, July 31, 2006 when her son, Guyana Police Force Special Constable Kwesi Lawrence was shot and killed.He was just 19 years old with a full life ahead. Though his death was an accident, the loss had a profound impact on the family, particularly his mother, with whom he was very close. The Guyana Police Force said that Lawrence was on a Joint Services operation in the backlands on the East Coast of Demerara when he was accidentally shot by another rank who was cleaning his M-70 rifle.“I miss him every day, because he was the best of the pack. He was very loving and when he would wake up every morning and give me a hug and kiss and then say ‘Mommy, I love you’ and would always do everything I ask,” Sam says as she reminisced on the memories of her son.She said her son was shot to his hip and bled to death en route to the hospital. As a mother, she felt every imaginable feeling when she heard he had died. The light just went out and never came back on. Sam, to this day, is still coming to terms with the loss of her middle child.Being a part of the Police Force was always the end goal for Lawrence and helping him get in to the Force was a task his mother undertook. She was the one who filled out the application, took him to interviews, and even took him to his first day of training.“He always wanted to become a Police Officer. As a child growing up, he was always a quiet person, he was always willing and he would kind of look up to people that was like Police or soldiers and he always heard me saying that I like military work. He always said when he grows up he wanted to be a Police or soldier.“When they eventually called him, he was so excited and he said ‘Look, I am going to be a Policeman now and when they see me, they gotta respect me’. He imagined himself in the uniform.”Lawrence was still undergoing training at the time of his death, and because of the crime situation at that time, he was called to join one of the several operations to catch criminals who were wreaking havoc on the country. He was very eager to fulfil his duty to his country and protect citizens with the full support of his mother, who had also been part of the Force but had resigned.She remembers the day she received the call informing her of Lawrence’s death. She describes it as one of the toughest days she has had and one that she wishes on no one.She was at home with her family when the phone rang some time around 02:00h on August 1, 2006. She answered and it was a friend who lived a short distance away. The friend, who was part of the Neighbourhood Policing Group, asked to her to immediately pay her a visit. With shaky knees, Sam made the approximately five-minute journey and when she arrived, the friend sat her down.After she stopped shaking, the friend asked that she call her mother which she did.“I know it was something about death, but my mind did not run on Kwesi. So when I called my mother she told me that Kwesi get shoot and he dead. I dropped the phone and I ran back home and I told my husband and his siblings. I try to describe what I feel, but unto now I can’t do it. I cannot describe how I feel about his death or how it affects me. I am still trying.”After that call, later in the day, the Police Welfare Officer contacted both Sam and Lawrence’s father and invited them to talk about what had happened. But nothing mattered to her, because at that time she was grappling to accept the reality that her child was now dead, mere days before she would have celebrated her birthday.The entire family felt the impact of his death, because he would usually aid in managing the household as well as send his siblings to school. With that revenue gone, the hardships were there, staring the family in the face. His siblings had to start taking up jobs to make ends meet and aid in putting themselves through school. It was a heart-breaking time for the family, because Sam was there watching them going through the motions and there was very little she could have done.For two years, she worked with local race car driver Mark Vieira as his cook and he would help her with purchasing school supplies for the children. However, she felt that it was time she gave back, even though she had very little, and continue the dream of her son, so she applied to become a Neighbourhood Police. But at that time there were pressing vacancies for SEs in the Force, so she was re-enlisted and has been serving ever since.“Kwesi loved to sing and I miss that about him. He was loving and the others would say he is my favourite, because he was mannerly. He was kind. He was the best of the pack. To see him dead so young is something that breaks my heart, but life goes on. He is in my memory and always with me,” she says referring to the fact that she keeps his photograph in her wallet with her.Sam has another son who is preparing to join the Police Force and despite the tragedy, she is full steam behind him.
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