So let it be written…
Just got off the phone with Eileen Mohan, and I’ve got goosebumps. You talk about grace.
Eileen’s son Christopher, 22, was one of six men who were shot dead in gang violence in a penthouse suite on the 15th floor of Whalley’s Balmoral Tower on Oct. 19, 2007. Mohan shared a suite with Christopher on that same floor and had she been home at the time, she likely would have shared his fate.
Christopher, and Abbotsford gasfitter Ed Shellenberg, 55, were innocent victims who accidentally stumbled upon a drug hit in progress. Edward Sousakhone Narong, 22, Ryan Bartolomeo, 19, and brothers Michael Justin Lal, 26, and Corey Jason Michael Lal, 21, were also slain.
Today marks the 10th anniversary of that horrific crime.
“It just seems like yesterday, you know,” Eileen tells me. “I don’t know what to tell you. It’s a world that I still can’t put into words.”
I respond, somewhat awkwardly, that I imagine it doesn’t help with guys like me calling her up, so many years later.
She readily pardons the media intrusion. “I know you all mean well so I don’t mind at all. Christopher should be here today, but he isn’t, so this is all we can do for him, right?
“I just came back from an early morning Mass, 8 o’clock, for him. I just kind of changed and had something to eat and I was going to head up to his resting place, to light some candles.”
Christopher’s resting place is at Valley View Memorial Gardens in Newton. “My memorial service is here at St. Matthews Parish. Every year, that’s where I have his memorial.”
“I have a Mass every year on this day. It’s not easy,” she says.
I recall visiting her in her home several years ago. Everything in her condominium spoke to her great love for her only son, from the shrine of photographs and mementoes of him just inside her door, to the tiny silver flower pin - a son’s gift to his mother - left on top of his Toshiba television in her living room.
“The one thing I miss is being called ‘Mom,’” she sighed.
She’s not living in the tower any more but still lives in the area. She has a nice little garden now.
“I want to stay around here until his case is all done and finished, and then I’ll see where life takes me,” she says today. “It just doesn’t feel like it’s 10 years.”
Eileen then thanks me for phoning her. “Thank you for always getting in touch with me on this day. Honestly, it means the world to me,” she starts. “Reporters like yourself, who I’ve developed a relationship with, whenever you call it gives me this lovely little feeling inside of me to answer the phone because I know you all care so much. Thank you for a beautiful ten years and strengthening me in my relationship with the press and with you and knowing there are people out there who care for justice, for Christopher, and his missing in this world. You all collectively don’t know how much strength you’ve given me, and hope, and trust that there’s still beautiful people left in this world.”
Back at you, Eileen. Some might consider my inclusion of Eileen’s above comments to be self-serving, but that is not at all my intention. They reveal what a wonderful person she is. When I last wrote about Eileen, I wrote that there are devoted mothers, and then there are Devoted Mothers, and that she resides somewhere in the second category.
She told me then that her Catholic faith has helped her cope with her loss.
“When Christopher was taken away, I questioned God’s miracle,” she explained. “I left church. My priest didn’t give up on me, and one day he came and sat down on the couch and looked at me and he said, ‘I have to be strong and I’m going to tell you this: God did not kill Christopher, it was men who killed Christopher. When they were killing Christopher, all the angels and saints and God in Heaven were crying with you, and they were ready to receive Christopher in heaven. So Eileen, shape up - get back to church, and start believing.’
“That opened my mind, it was so true that God didn’t walk from Heaven and killed Christopher and flew back - it was men who walked to the doorstep of my home, where I’m supposed to be safe and secure, stole my son’s life, and they expected to walk free from court. It wasn’t God. So slowly and surely, I’ve gone back to church.”
It’s my prayer today that God now paves Eileen’s way to a happy life. That tomorrow morning she wakes up, feels the sun on her skin, knows that something has changed, and that it’s a new beginning.
So let it be done.