What happens when good people stay silent?
Forty-six years ago Sunday Inez London chose life and gave birth to Bridget C. London, a beautiful baby girl. Everyone who met Bridget was in awe of her and many commented that she looked like a “little doll” including myself. At the time of her birth, I was six years old and try as a might I couldn’t play with this beautiful doll (although I was into Tonka trucks).
We had a large family due to my mother choosing life 12 times. She brought into this world nine boys and three girls. Having a big family wasn’t uncommon back in those days. I quickly realized that Bridget wasn’t a doll but flesh and blood. She was a human being, a gift from God, the daughter of Inez and Marshall London, and our baby sister.
Our family was introduced to loss early on. My brother Percy died at birth. I am sure this had a lasting effect on my mother. It is not natural for a mother (or father) to bury their children; for in a perfect world we would outlive them. It is a mixed blessing that my mother did not have to bury yet another child. I am uncertain if her heart could have stood such a loss. I often think about how Bridget’s murder would have affected my mother.
My mother had so much hope and love for her children. Although my mother loved us all, we knew Bridget was my mother’s heart beat, and Bumble Bee (second youngest) was the blood supply. There was something about the babies of the family that were near and dear to my mother’s heart. As for the rest of us, we helped to keep the blood pumping through her veins.
As, I sit and think about Bridget’s murder and ponder the “what if’s” of this tragic loss of life … my thoughts stay on my mother and how she would have handled it. What if her faith wasn’t enough to sustain her? Would it have become a double loss for us? We are talking about a mother and her child. What if she was still here on this earth?
Would she have sat back and watched the people of Brookhaven go along as if Bridget wasn’t her flesh & blood? What if there was the heartbroken, tear-streaked face of a distraught mother — my mother, Bridget’s mother — standing before the news camera seeking justice for the murder of her child? Would someone out there who knows the killer(s) have come forward to help bring closure to our family?
What if she had responded in outrage over the fact people are covering up for the murderers of Bridget? Would the community and the law have done more to find the culprit(s)?
What if she visited the police station every week since the murder and demand justice for the precious life that was taken? Would she have thought the initial handling of Bridget’s murder investigation was done without bias and all hands on deck?
Various scenarios play in my mind as I ponder these questions. Unfortunately, I have no answers for any of these questions. But I do believe that I must address this situation in the way that my mother, Bridget’s mother and the rest of our siblings’ mother may have responded — that is with strength, determination and the will to see justice being brought to those who murdered our baby sister Bridget.
My mother always stood on her “Rock” — God. Her faith was always steadfast in believing that he would, could and did see her through any and every situation. Life wasn’t easy for my mother but through it all she held on to her faith. I can’t honestly answer the question if her faith would have been enough to sustain her. I thank God she didn’t have to witness the innocent murder of her baby, Bridget, by a bunch of cowards.
But I do know that my mother would never have sat back and allowed the injustice to continue. She would not have allowed anyone to treat Bridget’s murder as if didn’t matter. Bridget’s life mattered. It mattered to her parents. It mattered to her siblings. It mattered to her children who were left motherless — unnecessarily. It mattered to her extended family and her friends.
My mother is not here to speak for her baby daughter. However, I am. I will not rest until all who were involved in the murder for my mother’s child are exposed. I will not rest until justice is served and the cowards are exposed.
Outrage is an emotion that I think my mother may have felt, as I have felt it many days since Bridget’s murder. However, I am going to take those feelings of outrage and turn them into something useful — justice for Bridget.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ But conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but because conscience tells one it is right.”
I ask the question, “When are the cowards going to step forward and do what is right?”
As I continue to think and reflect on my mother, I ask myself, “What would she think about how I am handling Bridget’s murder?” This question and the murder of my sister have left me with countless sleepless nights — with emotions that sway between hope and disappointment. Hope that the people are going to do what is right and come forward and help bring closure to Bridget’s murder.
Then I read about people who are helping in hiding the suspect(s). Some of these people are close to our family and know us well. They actually attended Bridget’s funeral. This brings me a lot of disappointment.
My mind tells me to sit back and allow God to work. But, my heart tells me to fight. I am a person of much faith but I can’t just sit back and wait. God knows me better than I know myself. So he is not surprised by my strong will to see justice done. My mother is not here to fight but I am. I will FIGHT!
I leave you with three final quotes from MLK on which to ponder.
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
I pray something in this letter pulls on someone’s heart to finally bring closure to our family and silence the cries of our mother from the grave.
Sharon London, formerly of Brookhaven, is the sister of the late Bridget London.