A senseless death.
A mother’s unending love.
Martin was a father of five and ran his own music production company.
No matter how late he’d work into the night, every morning he was at his parents’ door, looking for coffee and conversation with his mom, Elsa. They’d talk about their nights, their plans for the day. She’d tell him to be careful, to come back for dinner. He’d ask after her asthma. Don’t overdo it, he’d say.
One day, back in November 2016, he told her he planned on getting a haircut — a little sooner than he usually went in for a trim, but he was heading into a busy stretch and wanted to get it out of the way.
A few hours later, Elsa got a call: Someone had shot Martin outside the barbershop.
She rushed to the hospital, only to soon find out that Martin had died from the gunshot wound.
For two months Elsa was numb. Then one morning she woke up, made coffee, and went to see her son. It has now become a daily ritual.
On a recent visit, with a small silver thermos in hand, she stands by the tombstone with double hearts at Greenmount Cemetery and tells Martin that she’s going to a march against gun violence in a few days. She had special T-shirts made with an image of Martin playing baseball just for the occasion.
She gently pours a little coffee over his grave, then wipes his and his cousin’s markers clean as she does every day (short video below). “He always liked things tidy,” she says of Martin. His cousin is buried next to him, also the victim of a shooting.
She saves the last sip for herself, and then she leans in to kiss his gravestone.
“Te amo,” she tells him. I love you. “Dios te bendiga.” God bless you.
And then she grabs the thermos, looks up into the gray spring sky, and tells her son she’ll be back tomorrow.
As I noted, it’s a sad, but beautiful story that I came across in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, written by reporter Helen Ubiñas.
And unfortunately, one that is not unique.
But with the right laws and policies, we can work towards ensuring that moms and sons will be drinking coffee together in a kitchen, and not a cemetery.