By Lynda King
— As the anniversary of the fatal shooting of my love nears, I again reflect on all that was lost.
We had a 5 year plan, by then both of us would be retired and we would begin the new chapter of our lives. We were about 2 1/2 years into the plan. He was working in the oil fields in South Dakota, putting all his earnings away for retirement, while I was in Washington State, already retired. We saw each other when we could, but mostly settled for talking on the phone. We had the rest of our lives to be together.
I was at the Oregon Coast with my daughter and 3 of my grandsons for the weekend. When I returned home, there were several messages from his sister in Montana – please call ASAP. He had driven to his home town, Great Falls, to visit family. He was shot and died while at the home of a friend. Although the shooter was immediately taken into custody, there was never a clear motive. He was unarmed and unthreatening. The closest “label” would be home invasion.
I called him Montana, as that was all I heard when he introduced himself to me at a Halloween party. “Hi, my name blah, blah, blah, Montana.” He was beautiful inside and out, a gentle giant, part little boy, part responsible man. He soon became a very important person in my life. He became my future.
And then, he was gone, along with all of our plans. No growing old together in Depot Bay, his favorite place in the world. No trips back east to visit my siblings. No driving Route 66 in my Mustang convertible. All of our many dreams gone in an instant.
Montana’s violent death haunts me. I have struggled to find a way to pay homage to him while denouncing the gun violence that has gripped our country and took him. Nothing I looked into seemed to fit. He was gentle and very easy going whereas I am a New Yorker, more of an in-your-face person. I felt that I needed to find a way to protest, but it had to be a way that he would have been proud of, would have participated in if he were here.
One evening during the news I watched a piece about volunteers carrying little boxes that represented the folks dead or wounded by gun violence. They carried thousands of boxes, and that represented a mere fraction of those people. Soul Box Project is a fit for me. I’m not in anyone’s face, I’m not screaming out my anger and frustration during a protest, I’m not telling people what to do. I’m simply telling them what’s happening. And doing it Montana’s way.
When I testified at the trial, I told the judge that the shooter had taken away Montana’s life. And that he had taken away my future. I’m working with Soul Box Project to help prevent that happening to anyone else.