I got the telephone call that every mother fears. It arrived on a Friday afternoon in June 1995. Only an hour earlier I had talked to my son Michael on the phone. He and his friend Mikey had finished cleaning their bikes, got their fishing gear ready, and were setting out for one of the first adventures of the summer. I told him to have fun, and he replied, “Love ya, Mom.” I did not know that those lovely words were to be his last to me.

The call came at 4:15 PM, from Mikey’s mother, saying that Michael was being rushed to the hospital by ambulance. He had fallen from a makeshift swing the boys had built and had hit his head on a concrete abutment. She also said, “It doesn’t look good.”

When I arrived at the...

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