Margaret Washington talks about losing her princess.

May 10, 2013  By Jarvis DeBerry, | The Times-Picayune

"Helping Mothers Heal prepared me to go through this whole ordeal. Still 2 and a half years after losing my baby, I  still need the support and encouragement that this group gives. Currently I am being trained to be a facilitator of the Helping Mothers Heal group."

I got her when she was 3 months old. My son was about to complete his fourth year at Dillard, and I told him - I was a divorced mother - I said, "You're gonna get a little sister. You've always been the prince. I've always been the queen, and now we're gonna have a princess, and I want you to treat her that way."


As an adoptive parent, you take extra concern regarding the well-being of your child. Mothers will take a little liberty when the child goes out there to play, maybe not look back to see because they figure they're safe, but an adoptive parent is going to keep watching because you don't want anything to happen to this baby.


It was to be my granddaughter's sixth birthday, but at 7:10 in the morning the police came to my door. The female officer said, "Are you Margaret Washington?" I said, "Yes. What has happened?" I'm thinking a car accident or something because, see, my daughter was supposed to be at Dillard, in the dormitory.


My world turned inside out. I try not to be too emotional, but I just started whooping and hollering like somebody had hit me on the head -- because it was disbelief. And then I get the story: that she's 12 blocks or more from my house with somebody that I don't know who is not a student. That just even overwhelmed me more.


When you hear about people being killed, young people, the first thing that comes to mind is that it's a male. But here you have gone to visit your boyfriend. You're just in the room visiting. There's a knock on the window. The boy responds, and bullets start flying.


The system is not a fair system. I have been to court six times. Motion for hearing. Motion for discovery. Sometimes the detective is not there. Sometimes the D.A. is not there. Then the next time, he doesn't have a public defender. So everything has been rescheduled and rescheduled. We are true victims in the whole process.


I don't look forward to Mother's Day. I didn't look forward to it for about 16 years because Mother had died, but I went through the motions of going to church every Mother's Day. This Sunday will be a little bit different, but I'm coming because my church has been there to sustain me through the loss.


Memories? Unless I become Alzheimery, they will never go away. So we just have to cling to those things and try to do what we can for others. The other thing is that Chanda (Burks) and I have gone to schools to try to talk to some of the children. You know we try to tell them, "Stop the violence."


If you got a friend that's not really your friend or something tells you maybe I shouldn't be with Johnny or James, listen. Run away, because if we don't tell them, who's gonna tell them?