God's Path

Sometimes in life God sends us down paths that at first we may not understand. That is exactly what happened to me.

On June 25, 1989, our 19 year old son Brian was brutally murdered by an acquaintance for a few dollars for gas for that acquaintance's car.  Brian had gone out that night with this particular person, they were going to a carnival.  I always had a very bad feeling about this person and didn't want Brian going with him.  Brian's words to me were "don't worry Mom, I will be home early, I love you."
Those were to be the last words that he would ever say to me.  He was brutally murdered and his wallet was taken from his body possibly as he laid dying. I remember laying in bed tossing and turning waiting for Brian to come home.  Brian would always call if he were going to be late.  I dozed off and had a dream that Brian and I were at Disneyworld in Florida and we were on "Its A Small World Ride" our favorite. When we got off the ride Brian walked away from me and as he was walking I saw two woman dressed in long white dresses one on each side of him walking with him. He never looked back and I never got to see the woman's faces.
Were they Angels? Was God preparing me for what was about to happen in our lives?
Looking back I think that is what happened.
Anyway, I woke up and sat straight up in bed and felt like a bolt of electricity had gone through my body. I looked at the clock and it said one a.m.
I had a very sick feeling that something bad had happened to Brian.
The next morning two policemen came to our door.  They told us that they had a young man in Lynn Hospital and we were to go there and ask for two detectives. I asked them how they knew it was Brian and they said that he had a class ring on with his name engraved in it. I asked them if he was all right and they said that they couldn't get a response from him. They knew that he was dead but wouldn't tell us. Duane, my husband, and I went to the hospital where we were told that Brian was dead. They told us that he had been murdered.  I told them to get Paul, the person he had gone out with that night.  I knew that he had murdered Brian.  After the wake and funeral, we received the death certificate and the time of death was one a.m., the time that I sat straight up in bed.  It took the police 18 months to finally arrest Paul.  They never found the murder weapon, nor Brians wallet. In that 18 months that Paul walked the streets he would sit across the street from our house and laugh at us and other family members whenever he saw us. He figured that he was literally getting away with murder. My husband and I became our own detectives and haunted the Police.  Finally there was an arrest and conviction.

Only someone who has lost someone to murder knows the hate, rage, anger and pain that you go through.  I felt that anyone in prison was human garbage, and the scum of the earth, and I hated anyone that committed murder. I prayed so hard to God to tell me what he wanted me to do and the path that he wanted me to go down.  It is very easy to let hate and anger run your life, and
I didn't want that to happen to me. I started a support group in our area, Parents of Murdered Children, and ran that for about 3 years.  I knew that doing that wasn't really helping me.
 I needed to move on and asked God to tell me what he wanted me to do.  I was led to the prison system. I went in there with a lot of hate, pain, anger, and rage, and I was going to confront men who murdered and really let them know how there victims families felt. I was going to let all my hate and anger out on them. Well, I did that, but something strange happened as I listened to there stories.  Of course there were some who said that they were not guilty, some who blamed the victim, and some who I felt were truly sorry and remorseful. Most of the men I met with had committed murder. I figured that I was going to hate all of them for what they did.  I can honestly say that I hated what they had done, and the pain that they had caused their victims families, but for some strange reason I didn't hate them. We talked, got our feelings out, and even cried together. The path God led me down seemed very strange to me and turned a lot of victims against me, and also made my family think that I had completely lost my mind, but it was actually the beginning of my healing process. I became an activist against the death penalty, and
saw it defeated by one vote in Massachusetts a few years ago.  I have traveled to Philadelphia to speak against the death penalty. I believe that only God has the right to take a life, and besides I would not want someone killed in my sons name.  Although most of the men I met with will probably spend the rest of their lives in prison, I feel that in a strange way we all got something
out of our meetings and perhaps they were able to heal a bit. I went into the prison system  with hate, rage and anger and come out a very different person.  A person that has let go of the hate, rage and anger (the pain will always be there), and now have a sense of peace in my life because of it.  I would never have pictured myself meeting with murderers, people I thought were human garbage.  But I have remained in contact with a lot of the men.  They send me cards every Christmas, Christ's birthday, with a letter or a little note, and always let me know that I am in there prayers.  I always tape all my Christmas cards to the doorway or wall in my living room and also put the cards that I get from the prisoners on the wall, my husband calls that section where the prisoners cards are "Phyllis's Con Wall. Yes, God led me down what I think was a strange path
for a mother of a murdered child, but who am I to question him.


Phyllis Hotchkiss

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