Gwen Baxter talks about the pain of losing her son, Larry D. Harper

Gwen Baxter and Larry Harper Jr
Gwen Baxter and Larry Harper Jr.

Mother’s Day is the holiday of holidays. It’s easy to understand why. Most of us have mothers and we love them. We know that if it were not for them our lives would be different. We are grateful and appreciative and we take this day to honor them.

This most recent mothers day weekend has gone down as one of the most bloody in Chicago’s recent history. It has been reported that there were 49 shootings with seven fatalities over the mothers day weekend. This constant violence is affecting families all over the city.

There is a population of mothers who are riddled with pain and hurt throughout the year. Unfortunately, the shootings continue to grow in Chicago. Many families have been affected. A number of mothers are left alone to deal with the darkness of loosing a child. If they are not the mother of a “high profile” child ,their voices are not heard. We wanted to give these mothers a voice and an opportunity to speak about their child. Our hope is that this helps the healing and that someone will be moved to help stop the senseless killing.

We spoke with Gwen Baxter, the co-founder of Sisterhood about her personal loss. Below she shares memories of her deceased son Larry D. Harper and a message to everyone about the pain of dealing with loss:

My name is Gwendolyn Baxter. I am the president and co-founder of Sisterhood. My son Larry D. Harper, Jr was killed a few days before Christmas 2003. Larry was very mature for his age and had always thought of himself as my protector. I had been a single parent ever since Larry was 3 years old. He loved entertaining people and playing practical jokes. He would buy all types of gadgets, and play tricks on people. He worked as a maintenance man for a management company, and was engaged to be married. He has four children and was raising his son from a previous relationship, along with his fiancée’s daughter. Larry enjoyed spending time and traveling with family. He was my traveling buddy. Whenever I traveled, I could count on him to go with me and help with the driving.

What people don’t understand is when a mother’s child is taken away from them violently, no matter what age, it devastates her whole life. It takes away her joy for life and although there may be other children left behind, that mother still cries out for the one taken away. She experiences sleepless nights and emotional breakdowns; sometimes she may endure guilt of wondering if there could have been something that she could have done to save her child — if she could’ve … would’ve … should’ve. … She is often taunted by the fact that she was helpless in saving her child’s life.

People say time will heal the pain, but that’s not true. Time only allows you to live with the pain and hurt. When a child is taken away violently, sometimes we go into a dark place, not able to live life the same anymore. Sometimes we have a mental funeral, and more often we have emotional funerals, every birthday, holiday and memorial day we have a funeral in our hearts and minds. People tend to think that once the funeral is over, and the sympathizers are long gone, everything is OK, but they don’t understand; that’s when the real emotional rollercoaster starts. No parent is ever the same once they lose a child to violence.

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