Jennifer Hudson's nephew found dead; every parent has imagined her sister's hell
I cried last Friday when I heard about the murders of Jennifer Hudson’s mother and brother. When I heard that her nephew was missing, I held out hope that he’d be found soon. When I read that a 7-year-old boy’s body had been found, I lost that hope. It’s been confirmed today – the boy they found was her nephew.
I keep thinking to myself “I can’t imagine … “ but I can. It’s because I can imagine that the tears come so readily. Thank God, I can’t know what it must be like for Jennifer Hudson to have lost her mother, brother and nephew. Thank God, I can’t know the hell of Jennifer Hudson’s sister, Julia, who lost not only her mother and brother, but also lost her 7-year-old son, Julian. For 72 hours her son was gone—not yet dead, just missing. For 72 hours before she knew for sure he was dead, she could only imagine, and try not to.
I’ve seen the TV news reports that show so many grieving Chicagoans. Like me, most of them never actually knew the family, so I know I’m not alone in my painful empathy. But I have a 7-year-old son, too. I’ve experienced those moments of immediate and extreme terror when the child who was right at by my side is gone. It takes just seconds for the adrenaline to flood a parent’s brain and fuel a crazed panic.
There was that one time at the mall when--for maximum entertainment value—Jack hid in a rack of clothes, laughing behind his hand while I spun around, calling his name. When his laughter overflowed his cupped hand and revealed his fine trick, my first impulse was to grab him and shake him, screaming “NEVER DO THAT AGAIN! NEVER! NEVER!” If I had given in to that impulse, and if I had ended up having to explain myself to a police officer, and if that police officer was a parent, I don't believe I would have been punished; I believe the officer would have nodded knowingly, sympathetically.
Last weekend we were at Sea World. We stood in line for 20 minutes with hundreds of other people waiting to ride the watery Journey to Atlantis. Then we lined up again to get some cold drinks. Then we returned to the Journey to Atlantis locker area to stand in line again before I could reclaim the purse I wasn’t allowed to carry on the ride.
When I came out of the locker area I saw my husband spinning in panic, calling our son’s name. Five seconds, maybe only three seconds, before Jack was back by our side, but that’s all the time it took for every imaginable horror to run through our minds.
With Jack's hand firmly in my husband's, we started off again for another exhibit. That’s when we saw the crying woman. She had let go of her 9-year-old son's hand 40 minutes earlier so he could stand in line and ride the watery roller coaster alone. She’d been standing there waiting and crying for 40 minutes. I'm sure that for 40 minutes every imaginable horror ran through her mind.
That's why so many of us cried again when Julia Hudson's son was found and confirmed dead: We could -- and had -- imagined it.