Teen Memoriam Stories

Robert Harsh

We believe in forgiveness... We also believe that justice should be served to protect the safety of our communities. It’s certainly something Robert believed.

It was the night before Thanksgiving, November 22, 2017. After family prayer, my 19- year-old, Robert, tired from working since early morning, gave us one of his famous hugs and went to bed, looking forward to watching the Thanksgiving Parade the next morning. My husband and I made pies and then went to bed, never dreaming that Robert, hungry for a hamburger, would walk to McDonald’s about a block away.

We got up in the morning to the smell of roasting turkey; I had so much to be grateful for! As my husband was getting the TV ready for the parade, a news bulletin came on about an accident the night before, just around the corner from our house. A man was hit and killed by a drunk driver speeding through a red light at 94 miles per hour. We hoped it wasn’t someone we knew. Rob was a ballroom dancer and we knew he’d want to see the parade numbers, so his dad went to wake him. He wasn’t there. We didn’t worry at first; maybe there was a neighborhood football game. We called and texted – no reply.

The time to leave for Thanksgiving dinner with our daughter came and went. We called our seven other children, asking them to pray for Robert. My husband called the police and gave a description of Robert. Finally, the police knocked on our door and told us that the young man who was killed in the hit-and-run the night before was Robert; they hadn’t found any ID or they would have contacted us earlier. They assured us that witnesses saw Robert push the crosswalk button and wait for the light. He did everything right. The woman who hit him didn’t stop, but fled the scene.

We only knew one source to turn to, so we said prayers in our hearts, and felt a measure of peace. We also felt strongly that we should make a statement to the local news channels to let the driver know we forgave her and held no ill will. We knew she’d made a poor decision to drink and drive, but she didn’t purposefully mean to kill our son. We also believed in the law, and that justice should be served to protect the safety of children in our communities. As good citizens, this is something we should insist upon. It’s certainly something Robert would fight for; he detested injustice and stood up for causes he believed in.

Robert had a hug and a good word for everyone! Since Robert’s death, many have told us of his innumerable acts of friendship and caring. He graduated with honors and when his name was read at his graduation ceremony, the cheering was loud and long. Robert loved his family very much. He was – and continues to be – a mighty influence in our lives for the better.

Despite the pain when we pass the crash site, I am grateful to feel Robert’s nearness and love. Our faith continues to bring us peace. We believe in forgiveness… we also believe that justice should be served to protect the safety of our communities. It’s certainly something Robert believed. The driver is in jail awaiting sentencing for her prison term. She is only in her twenties. Her decision to drink and drive not only cost the life of Robert, but will cost years of her life as well. Something to think about.

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