Ten years after the family tragedy that nearly destroyed his life, Les Franklin is haunted by memories. “It’s the gray eyes,” he says, describing a vision that comes to him at night as he struggles to find sleep. They are the eyes of his late son Shaka, a 16-year-old high school football star who fatally shot himself in the family’s Denver home one day in 1990. “It’s seeing him lying on the table in the hospital with plastic gloves on his hands and a sheet up over him, a bullet hole through his head,” says Franklin, 61. “I see his mother laying her head on his chest and just sobbing, sobbing her heart out.”…
[Years later] Franklin has suffered a second tragedy…. Franklin and his second wife … found the decomposing body of his only other child, Jamon, 31, who had killed himself, possibly a week earlier by inhaling carbon monoxide fumes…. Jamon Franklin, who was living at home at the time of his death, had apparently never recovered from his brother’s suicide, which was followed just five months later by the death of the boys’ mother … from cancer….
Since [then], Franklin’s mood has swung between guilt and anger, self-doubt and despair. “I’m just trying to hang on,” he says … (Rogers and Bane, 2000:166).