Tuesday, October 4, 2016

On The Death of His Son:Three Offerings

Bismillah ir Rahman ir Rahim,


               By Rufus West a/k/a Muslim Mansa Lutalo Iyapo

August 10, 2016

When a parent loses their child they experience a "something" that is more than just pain. It's unparalleled to anything one can imagine. Actually there's no word for it. It's just the worst feeling ever that has been, and continues to be, my daily experience. The only feeling that I can compare it to is the feeling I have right before I wake up after being shot in the head, knowing I'm going to die if I don't wake up at that very moment. That feeling is so novel in a conscious state and can only be compared to something that happens in a dream or a subconscious state. It's so horrible that I do everything in my power to wake myself up. To be clear, it's not the physical pain of being shot, but some unexplainable bad feeling that's somehow associated with

the cosmos of one's very existence on the verge of becoming nonexistent. I think it's a combination of extreme fear mixed with "something" that's more than just pain. This is just a microscopic percentage of what I

can compare to the feeling I experienced on July 1, 2016, upon receiving notice via "snail mail" that my beloved son, Richard West Gray, was assassinated on June 3, 2016. Not even the death of my mother 26 years ago to a seizure is equal in comparison to my reaction to losing Richard, and I was extremely close to my mother. (Needless to say, I have yet to find an experience parallel to the bad feelings 1 felt upon learning of her death.)

To this day I'm still trying to fill some of the gaps in my memory for the first 72 hours after receiving the news about Richard. What I am certain about is that I cried, no, I sobbed . When I was able to calm down from sobbing, a clinician would ask me to talk about him. My attempts to do thus would result in me breaking down again. I sobbed so much that first day that an inmate (who has never lost a child) commented that the reason that I cried so much is because I haven't cried in years. Pretty presumptuous on his cart. He couldn't see that the reason why I cried so much is because of the fact that my son was murdered. My tears for Richard don't start with my eyes. The tear start from my chest and, rises up to my eyes before pausing briefly at my neck' like someone's choking me so that I can't breathe.. My body trembles,and I'll make a noise to distract myself from that "something" more than just pain. At first I cried so much that my whole body ached, especially my eyes and head. As the days turned into weeks, however, I cried less frequent to where now I find myself crying when I look at his photos or when I ruminate on the fact that I will never be able to enjoy his physical presence ever again. I'm doing my best to try

to lock his death up deep within me somewhere because the feeling that cones with it has no cure. It gets so bad sometimes that I often feel like the only way to escape it is suicide. As Muslim, I know that it's against Islam to commit suicide and. that Allah's punishment will he severe. Yet, every so often I feel myself weighing its pros and cons. There's no pill or cure for what I'm experiencing. I just wish there were words that could articulate what I'm experiencinq on a daily basis.

No, I'm not going to kill myself. People walk past my cell every day, while some stop at my cell for one reason or another and they don't have the slightest idea of what I'm going through. If they were to ask me I would only tell them that I'm going through "something" more than just pain.

NEVER by Rufus West a/k/a Muslim Mansa Lutalo lyapo 7/20/16

The one thing that parents need to realize about making plans, is that whether they happen or not is completely out of our hands.

Time is a gift often taken for granted by those of us who live, it's only after, they're murdered do we regret not spending more time with our kids. Or telling them that we love them at least once every day, because we don't expect Allah to come and take our children away.

Presumptuously we believe that parents aren't supposed to bury their children, but statistically Black parents will more than likely bury their children. Especially if that child is a Black male aged 18 to 35, because the number one cause of death for him in this country is homicide. - At  the  hand  of  another with  the  same  skin color  who  doesn't  believe t hat Black lives matter. Because if he did - my son wouldn't be dead.

I never thought that I would be among those who were notified, that my beloved son named Richard West Gray had become a victim of homicide.

It never crossed my mind that I would be robbed of my vision, of a healthy father and son relationship with my son when I got out of prison.

I told myself when I get out that I'm never coming back to the pen, my first order of business was visiting my kids and grandchildren.

But all the things I've dreamed of doing with  my son for the past 22 years, will never happen and that's clear.

Never! That's clear.

                      NOW I KNOW
by Rufus West a/k/a Muslim Mansa Lutalo lyapo 7/1/16
A wife who loses her husband is called a "widow." A child who loses his parents is called an "orphan." When a parent loses their child to gun violence they're called ... there is no name for it. Of all the words in the history of man, there is no word to label a parent who loses their child; who has to bury their child.
Writing this caption my pen ran out of ink, unexpectedly  like your life ran out of time.Pausing for extensive periods in the middle of praying to break down in tears. The pain is too much! Why does this kind of torture exist? This pain - just when I thought I could start praying again the pain breaks me down again! Allah I'm holding on to Your Rope for dear life, because right now I'm definitely considering ending my own life! I know Muslims aren't supposed to kill themselves .... I feel like I'm already dead! I Feel Like I'm Already Dead! I FEEL LIKE I'M ALREADY DEAD! My heart shattered, pieces everywhere. Everywhere there are pieces - like glass. Bloody trails left by my hands trying to collect all of the pieces. Trying to collect myself. Trying to get a hold of myself. These photos of you in a casket don't even look like you! I don't recognize you at all! I need confirmation. Insha Allah I'll have somebody make some calls.
My body is weak. I'm a weak man trying to be strong. When I lift myself up a couple inches I just collapse back into the wall. I wish I could be this wall: hard, cold and just lifeless, As I write this I'm thinking for the first time about the coward(s) that killed you. Had to "ambush" you, so that let me know that you had something about you that made this coward(s) know that he had no win without ambushing you. It's still no consolation.
Every time I see parents on the news, crying over their child being killed, I would try to empathize in order to articulate to people why we need to stop killing each other, NOW' I KNOW!
I wrestle with the contradiction of not wanting anyone to ever experience this pain with wanting the coward(s) who did this to you to experience this with every child they have! I know that's not Islam.
I remember when you and your brother were just babies. Twins, not even a year old yet. I was wearing a red Adidas hat. Your mommy handed you both to me one at a time, I didn't know how to hold no baby. You two were my first born. She kept scolding me, "Watch their heads, Roofy!" I didn't know what I was doing, Here I was trying to maintain a so-called gangster, thug-type posture while trying to cuddle ya'll in my arms simultaneously. Both of ya'll were clearly vocal in letting me know that this ain't no "Diamond in the back - sunroof top - diggin' the scene with a gangster lean" situation. Like everyday – I had been in the streets all night. The next thing I know is that I'm being awakened by your mommy lifting one of you off of my chest, and then the other one. I hadn't realized that I had dozed off. Ya'll had fallen asleep on my chest. I told your mommy I had to leave. Before 1 left she told me that she took a picture of us sleeping and that it was the only time that she saw me look peaceful. My mentality, however, is I need to get out in them streets. When she let me see the photo, as much as I tried to play it off, I knew that she would never get that photo back. And she didn't. I ended up losing that photo a few years later, but it's permanent in my mind's eye as lucid as if I can touch it with my hands.
I remember when your mommy would take ya'll for a stroll in the stroller while I would be in my element running the streets. I would see ya'll during the daytime, or your mommy would hunt me down during the daytime. She would try to convince me to get off of the streets, to no avail. We'd depart. And then at night she'd come looking for me with ya'll. My homeboys in the 'hood would tell me, "Man, you know your baby momma is out here with kids looking for you?" I'd go looking for ya'll but she'd always find me first. She'd tell me that she needed to make sure I was o.k., and on many occasions she would bring me a styrofoam plate of home-cooked food just to make sure I was eating "real food" and not junk food. I would take turns holding you and your brother, and then I would send ya'll home so that I could get back in them streets.
You was 4 years-old when I got locked up. Twenty-two years of watching you grow from a distance through photos and letters. Twenty-two years of telling you that? Insha Allah, I'll be home soon if I get my case overturned or get paroled. You gave me a grandson. A grandson! A sign indicative of the fact that not only am I getting old in years, but also indicative of the fact that you're no longer that baby who fell asleep on my chest that day or the baby wheeled around in a stroller by his mother looking for me. It seems like I just blinked and you went from a baby in a stroller to giving me a grandson.
At first I wanted you to be like me. But after I embraced Islam and then matured into manhood I realized that I didn't want you to be like the pre-Islamic me. I wanted you to be better than I was by avoiding negativity and creating positive alternatives/opportunities for yourself. People who don't grow with you are unable to witness your growth in maturity. They only remember who you were and what you were by their last memory of you. This is what I was up against. Parenting from prison is one of those things that you'll, never know how well you did until it's all over and it's the end. Well, I will never know how well I've done because some coward(s) robbed me of that opportunity.
I feel like I've failed you because I should have been there with you instead of in here - in prison. As your father it was my obligation to support you by making decisions that would allow me to maintain a consistent physical presence in your life. I admit that I didn't do that and I am deeply sorry for fleeing from my responsibilities as a father. Quite frankly, I didn't even know what my responsibilities or priorities of a father were because it wasn't until years after my imprisonment that I grew out of boyhood into manhood that I knew what a man was. Children must not have children; only men and women because the child is the one who suffers undeservedly. You didn't ask to be born.
Killing myself right now would be a selfish act because my life never belonged to me once I had children. I have three kids left. Furthermore, it's against Islam. I never want to go through this again, Insha Allah I never will.
I am literally stuck in a physical void right now. I don't know what to do from moment to moment, so I sit here on this floor writing you my thoughts as they come, frequently pausing to wipe my tears off the pages or reflect on a memory.
Insha Allah I will have a future. I'm unable to clearly picture any future. All I know is I need to stay alive so that I can get out of prison ASAP. I need to look after my grandchildren, my remaining children, and people who love me. My inability to focus is preventing
my ability to strategize right now. I need to get out of prison. (Allah help me get out of prison!) One thing about asking, though, is there's a chance for denial.
There's a hole in my heart. Damn it hurts!
I know your mother's pain has to he excruciating as well. Your twin brother is also hurting but I hope and pray that he doesn't doanything vengeful against the coward(s) that could result in his death or imprisonment. Your other siblings as well are experiencing a lotof pain as a result of your death. Insha Allah I am going to find out who assassinated you. Allah already knows.
Well, it's 9:00 a.m., July 2, 20161 I've been writing pretty much since last night. I should probably try to get some sleep but my whole body hurts. Yawning every 30 seconds only exacerbates my headache and eye ache.
This sure is one Ramadhan I'll never forget. Insha Allah you are in a better place. I ask-that-Allah will protect you and keep you safe. And Insha Allah we will see each other in Paradise.