Finally cobbling together enough donations from folks at Church of the Reconciler and other friends, I headed to Edwina’s yesterday to buy her a mask to use with the CPAP machine her doctor prescribed. For the past two weeks, Edwina has had trouble sleeping and spent last week sitting up in a chair all night instead of lying down in her bed. Every time we talked, I could tell Edwina was exhausted and just plain tired of not getting any rest.

As I pulled up, I saw a cluster of teddy bears piled on the lawn of the apartment building next to hers.

“What’s going on with the teddy bears?” I asked as Edwina climbed into the car.

“Oh, Miss Rayan!” Edwina exclaimed. “That where that man shoot that poor little baby and his mama! Said he heard some voices in his head and he come up and shoot ’em as they walkin up the steps.”

The baby, a toddler about to turn three, died at Children’s Hospital a short time after arrival and the mother remains in serious condition at another hospital.

“It was all over the news,”  Edwina continued. “They was showing the apartment building, and I told my son I hope Mr. Tim [the owner of Edwina’s building] don’t think we up to nothing bad.”

This is the second time in a month that tragedy has hit home for Edwina. On March 3, a shooting at a motel in the Birmingham suburb of Homewood killed her cousin’s son, 17-year-old Jvonte Hines. Edwina told me the shooting was gang related, and “police standed all around at the cemetery seein if any of the men that did it come to the funeral.” Turns out that Jvonte’s brother was also killed a couple of years ago in a gang-related incident. Edwina now sports a t-shirt with Jvonte’s picture and a memorial message.

Edwina has told me many times before that she won’t go out after dark or allow Aubrey to step outside “cause that when the shooting starts.” Though I know the violence scares her, she sent me a text today thanking me for the mask and the blessing of a good night’s sleep amid the turmoil. “I sleep like a baby, Miss Rayan,” she wrote.


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