It was a few hours before dawn on February 19, 2015 when Tawna Sterling, mother of two young men, was awakened by an unexplainable gut feeling.
Almost immediately, her phone began to ring.
It was a call from a frantic friend telling her that her 21-year-old son, who lived with his girlfriend and two children, was gunned down at his home in Yallahs, St Thomas, just minutes away from where she was living.
“Mi hold mi belly and bawl out Jesus Christ! Mi period come down pon mi same time! I can’t even explain the feeling; not even childbirth pain never do so,” Sterling told The Gleaner as she recounted the painful details of the unforgettable Thursday morning nearly two years ago.
Javar George was shot in the head and upper body while at home with his then two-year-old son, his daughter who was only a few months old, and the mother of his children.
His mother explained that upon hearing the news, she stopped by her other son, who she said was the closest person to his brother.
“When me reach, him did already hear. Him hold him belly and bawl. Him say: Mummy, mi can’t go around there. I can’t manage to look,'” she said.
Sterling relayed that her elder son who lived in proximity told her that he not only heard the gunshots but felt each one.
“Him seh is like him know seh a Papa (as George is called) dem a shot, like him get a connection,” she said adding that the two were best friends.
Sterling recalled her experience at the morgue when she went to identify her son’s body.
According to her: “People were talking about mi son get 20 shots, and how him marrow fly. I tried not to listen or to hold any conversations with them.
“When I went to the door to look at his body, mi get frighten and turn back. I started trembling, asking God for strength.
“When they took off the sheet off him, I shouted, ‘Jesus Christ! See him blue chain deh!’ He was wearing a chain that he never took from around his neck. It was still there.
“I just wanted to hug him, but the doctor said I couldn’t touch him. Papa was sleeping clean and peacefully, nothing like what people had described.”
Though the ordeal was nothing short of agony for the grieving woman, Sterling told The Gleaner that she would not defend her son if he was involved in illegal activities.
… ‘I worked hard to keep them off the street’
“From him dead by the gun, him wrong. I worked hard to keep them off the streets. They work hard, too! Dem hand middle rough! They’ve been fishing from them very young. If mi did hear seh him drown a sea or something hit him off a bicycle on the road, then it would be different, but man come a yu yard come kill yu? No, man,” she said, adding that she was happy the children and their mother weren’t harmed.
Sterling shared that one contributing factor to crime in Jamaica is retribution.
“I don’t tell my grandchildren nothing bout gunman kill dem father. I tell them he was in the wrong company and show them how important it is to stay off the road and focus in school.
“Parents need to set examples. They should be real. You can’t tell the children that mek them dedicate them life to getting revenge. Don’t paint a picture of innocence! Lies lead to more victims,” she warned.
And almost immediately, Sterling zoned out.
When she was able to speak again: “I really miss him. I feel like mi nuh have nobody to love me. He was the one who would say, ‘Mummy, how yu look so good today?’
“The children are hurting too. The baby cry for comfort and his son will say things like: ‘Mi want mi father. If he was here, I would get love.’ Papa was a loving and emotional boy,” she said, before zoning out again.