William Moten’s family has suffered a tragedy few families face, but from this experience, Moten is making it his business to let other people know there are strengths and ways to help get through both grieving and loss.
It was July 10, 1999 when a boyfriend entered one of his step-daughter’s home in Atlanta, and shot her, her sister, and four of his step-daughter’s children at about 4 a.m.
They all died in the house that day, except for one grandson, who after being shot in the arm, “played possum” to keep from being shot again, and escaped to hide in a closet where he was so terrified he stayed there for four or five hours.
When the mailman came that day, young Santonio Lucas decided to leave the closet and find help, Moten said.
“This child had to step over the bodies of his mother, his auntie, three brothers and a sister that day,” Moten said.
Santonio made his way to Moten’s house just down the street, where he ran into the house screaming, “They’re all dead!”
The gunman had shot each of the victims once, some twice, in the head and then turned the gun on himself, committing suicide.
Moten, who now lives in Talladega, took his family’s journey through grief and shock and has compiled a collection of poetry and short stories that he hopes will help guide others through tragedy.
For Moten, the key is his faith in God and the assurance of Jesus Christ that this earthly place is not all there is.
“We’re just passing through this place,” Moten explains. “And God knows everything.”
The thing we needed to be able to do was comfort each other after it happened, he said.
“He killed them, then he killed himself,” Moten said. “Who are you going to be angry at? Certainly not God.”
So Moten shares his belief that there is another place, that this is a temporary home on earth, and that being on this earth is not forever.
“Our real home is with the heavenly father, and your real home is where you spend eternity.”
Moten titled his book “It is Just Before Dawn,” with the subhead, “We’re Just Passing Through.”
Moten said he’s been writing poetry for many years now.
Below are a couple of Moten’s favorite poems from his collection:
“Just Before Dawn”
The evening is far spent
the night has just begun
our work is not finished it is just before dawn.
Have we used our time wisely as we walk under the sun will our deeds betray us gladly it is just before dawn.
Have we wasted our time has the battle of life been won are we shivering in the darkness
it is just before dawn.
Are we ready for that light
that shines brighter than the sun
we are in the last days
the darkest hour is just before dawn.
He will come like a thief in the night
we have been warned
brighter than day all in his glory
It is just before dawn.
“Just Passing Through”
I awakened one morning in a place called life
It was a strange land
Intelligent, curious and vulnerable
God had made me a man.
The grass was green and the sky was blue
The reality of a God was becoming so true
It was all so beautiful, what else could he do
Except cause him to know that he was just passing through.
As the sun changes shift with the early morning dew
And everything grows old that once was new
Time will prove again and again that everything
Having life is just passing through.
The ways of mankind and the things that they do
Suggest that men are miracles, still, they’re just passing through.
While many are called, the chosen are few, just passing through.
This is not our home, we are just passing through.
In his piece titled “ I Understand,” Moten writes of his wife Lovie’s approach to coping with losing two children and four grandchildren in such a violent and shocking way.
“Lovie is speaking out with the help of our pastor and counselor, Apostle James S. Prothro,” Moten writes.
“With his assistance, she has become strong enough to speak about her inner struggles. Through counseling, she has begun reaching deep into the hidden place of her heart and she is working to free herself of the anger, hostility and rage that she is experiencing from the loss of our children. Recognizing that the negative feelings that she has kept bottled inside have served as a canker to destroy her from the inside out, she is now fighting back.”
Moten also writes of one of the most important battles Lovie has had to conquer.
“The need to forgive the perpetrator of her pain is one,” Moten writes.
“This, she has discovered, is most essential for her survival. Read and enjoy her comments. And pray for the both of us.”
Moten’s book is available by calling the Xlibris Corporation at 1-888-795-4274, ext. 7879 or visiting www.Xlibris.com or by contacting Moten at 256-589-5980.