A long time ago my family was involved in a lot of negative things. These negatives have left many of my family members and me scarred and afraid of drugs and the problems they bring. Afraid of gangs and the lives they take, not necessarily in deaths, but with mistakes that change people’s lives forever.

Early one morning, nine years ago.

I awake on my parents’ bed. I am swept from a deep sleep from a conversation between my mother and father. I crack open my eyes to see my father rushing to pull on his clothes and my mother sitting motionless on the bed, a frantic tone in her voice.

Due to my drowsiness I can’t decipher what they are saying. My father flees the room. My mother remains inert. I stay still trying to comprehend the situation.

Soon I hear noises coming from outside of our house. I leap from the bed and hurry to the window. When I peek out I see a man dressed in all black pointing an M-16.

I have seen guys like this before on TV, chasing bad guys. But the sight of a pointed weapon just feet away fills me with fear. And it freezes me.

My mother shouts and pulls me away from the window.

I hear the guy with the automatic weapon shout, “Come out with your hands up. We have him in custody.”

I think, “Who’s him?” And, “Who are they talking about?”

My mother holds my sister’s hand and leaves the house. I look over our driveway and I see the person I love so much, the “him in custody” with a look of sadness and terror on his face.

That image is burned inside my brain. I am unable to erase it, though I’ve tried. That one frozen image carried with it the promise of a massive and inexplicable change that was on the way.

But often I look back and examine that image. That frozen moment in time. And yet it changes as I grow older and mature.

Now, at 17, a senior in high school, a good student, a star football player, I ask, “Was it all for the good?” And, “What if I had chosen the same path, the wrong path, my father took?” And, “What if the same gangs and drugs that took my father away had taken me to the similar places, to a similar fate?”

I feel as if I am meant to make a difference. To break the chain. To follow a better path.

Although these thoughts roam freely in my mind, I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like to grow up with a father beside me.

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