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Reflections at the end of the year my son, MJ, was killed

3.26. 2018 Written By: Michele Miller Sharp 1,623 read

Michele Miller Sharp wrote this piece Dec. 22, 2017. Her son, Michael (MJ) Sharp, was killed in March 2017 while working as part of a U.N. panel of experts investigating conflicts that have been ongoing in Congo since the mid-1990s.

I vividly remember the moment you were born, my dear son. You weren’t breathing because the umbilical cord was wrapped tightly around your neck. You were blue. However, it didn’t take long for your lungs to fill with precious, life-giving air, and you cried out as if to say, “I’m here folks. Watch out, world!” I remember looking over at your worried father and saying, “John, you have a son.”

From that first day, when I placed you to my breast, I knew you had a vigorous personality. Each day was one to find adventure, with something new to discover and learn. But you also had a kind and sensitive heart. Those characteristics continued to describe you for the 34 years of your life.

You were always such a joy. Yes, I truly mean always. You had a brilliant mind. But it never was something you flaunted. Your kindness and sense of humor and adventurous spirit are what drew people to you. It was, however, what kept us as your parents on our toes, trying to keep one step ahead of you to make sure you were adequately challenged.

Because you learned and mastered things so quickly and then became bored, I often prayed God would instill in you a call that would challenge and fulfill you. And when you finally did find that passion for working at peacemaking in places of violence and suffering, we could only support you. We celebrated you and your call. And most days I’m able to be grateful for all you were able to accomplish and all the lives you touched for what truly matters.

However, I admit there are days my mother heart just wishes you had been more ordinary. That you wouldn’t have had that keen mind, caring heart and passion for reconciliation and justice. Because then you, my dear son, would still be with us. You were killed because of the purposeful work you did.

My heart aches with the pain of your absence. Your presence in our lives was such an integral part of each of us, and what a gift you were. As parents we invest so much in our children, believing that investment will continue to contribute to the world long after we’re gone. That is the natural order of life.

So, at the end of 2017, I don’t know what to say of our experience of loss that has brought any revelation or insight. I only know that the pain of your loss is overwhelming. My mother heart continues to lie in pieces. I know those pieces will someday be patched together, but it will never look or be the same. I will always love you. Know, without a doubt, I was blessed to be your mother.

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One Response to “Reflections at the end of the year my son, MJ, was killed”

  1. Wayne Burkhart says:

    Thanks to Michele Miller Sharp for her remberance of her son M.J., who died in a faithful and exuberant work in the Kasai region of the Congo.

    Donna (Beachy) and I feel the closeness of experience, the pain and wonder and joy of parenting a son who lived exuberantly in the Kasais.
    Our son Topher was 5 in Mbujimayi and Kananga in a more peaceful time but died back in the United States of the tragic results of mental illness at 22. (Christopher’s brother, born in Tshakaji in 1979, sings the hymns of faith in Halifax.)

    My note is a prayer of faith for John and Michele and for each of us in our fateful lives and especially now for our dear African faith people as they live through this war and seek to rebuild their “homes with love and laughter filled.”

    “God give thy wayward children peace.”

    Wayne Burkhart

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