Letter to an Unfit Mother


*This is an article from the Winter 2024 issue of Combat Stress

This letter was written to the alcoholic and drug addicted mother of a newborn infant, killed as the direct result of his mother’s substance abuse. The author is an Ohio police officer. This letter is riveting, revolting and heart-searing in its message. It is written anonymously because this infant death is still under investigation as a homicide case.  

The Editor 

Dear Unfit Mother, 

It has been a month since we were forced to meet on your lawn on that cold, dark winter night. I say forced, because knowing what I know now, it would never have been my desire or choice to know you. The circumstances surrounding our introduction were among the most vile, sadistic, and nauseating moments I’ve experienced as a human or as a police officer. In those seconds, I was thrust into a part of hell that I had not known before. 

What my eyes saw, my ears heard, and my hands felt continues to play in my head on repeat like a movie I’m unable to turn off, but that no one else can see. You were undeniably drunk, and I doubt you have these same vivid visual souvenirs that could only be sold at the gift shop at the entrance to hell itself. However, if I don’t have the luxury of forgetting the sights, smells, and heaviness of your dead son’s body in my hands, I would like to ensure you don’t either. I want you to remember every single day, in detail, how your inexcusable choices directly led to the death of your baby boy. 

You treated him like an option and an inconvenience. You stole the breath from your defenseless child who hadn’t yet had the opportunity to inhale any of the joys of life. Stealing is what you are known for, but this time, the price of what you stole cannot be set high enough. How you could place so little value on someone so precious disturbs me, and always will. No penalty for this theft will ever equal justice. It will just have to do. 

You tossed a fading human life at me in that front yard…one that you created and failed as a mother to maintain. If I had not caught him, his tiny lifeless body would have hit the driveway, delivering the final death blow to his already trauma-spattered face. When my hands grasped and supported his cold, limp body, I could not believe how something so small could create a sensation so indescribably heavy throughout my entire body. My police officer brain took over control of my hands as I began to assess what my human brain did not want to absorb. 

Then, I did what you seemed incapable of doing. I looked directly at him. I looked into his small innocent face, the image of which will continue to appear in my mind and dreams for the duration of my life. I gazed into his lifeless eyes and knew he was dead. I moved my hand to support his head and open his airway, even though I knew he was beyond help. The blood and other fluids flowing from his nose and mouth onto my hands painted a sickening picture and told the story of the horrific abuse and neglect that took place in your house. His tiny limbs flopped heavily toward the ground as I took him out of the hands that caused his death, then transferred him to the hands that I hoped would bring him back to life. You and I both watched as the medic doors swung open and I ran toward them with your son to give him one last chance at life. 

Your useless wailing overwhelmed any other sound on the street that night. After your son was no longer in my arms, I turned my attention to you. I didn’t know at the time all that I know now. I tried to give you the benefit of the doubt, but the alcohol I smelled told a different story. There was more blood, but it wasn’t yours. I held you while you shrieked. The kind of shriek that only comes from a mother who has just come to terms with the death of her child. I was kind to you and treated you with respect and dignity, despite how you so casually threw away your son’s. You refused to accept responsibility and you even had the audacity to blame me for killing him. You tried to hit me, kick me, and bite me as I attempted to restrain you from climbing into the medic to take back your son’s cold, stiffening corpse. You sat on the sidewalk and clung to my leg as you wailed. Your own family came to the scene and instead of directing their anger at you, the source of this tragic chaos, they chose me and other officers on scene to be the recipients of the racial slurs, threats, blame, and curses they wielded.

Hours of misdirected fury was my prize for choosing to show up on your family’s worst day. I want you to know that no matter how much you curse me, or blame me, God knows the truth and you WILL answer for it. I know I did everything in my power to save your baby from you, and prevent any further harm to you or him. Can you say the same? 

The only good that you’ve done for your child is spare him years of being raised by a mother who doesn’t love anyone as much as she loves herself. You spared him a life of coming in second to alcohol and drugs. You spared him a life of waking up every day in a house unfit for even animals to reside in. You spared him a life of constant abuse and neglect that he would have most certainly suffered. Lastly, you spared him a life of looking into the eyes of a woman he would call mama but would never receive true unconditional love from. I want you to know I believe he is truly better off in heaven than with you in your self-constructed hell. 

As I watched your substance riddled brain come to terms with what was happening and harsh realities began to set in for you, it was clear you were mourning for yourself more than your baby. When the crime scene tape went up, you began to panic. Suddenly, you began to communicate your desire to die and in my head, I wanted to let you. You cared so little for other people’s lives, why should we work hard to preserve yours? It’s my job to offer a piece of hope and a plan to help people struggling in these situations, but this day I was unable to feel true compassion for you. Even as angry and disgusted as I and my fellow officers were, we maintained control of ourselves, and got you the help you needed and for that I say, “You’re welcome.” 

I want you to know that your baby did experience true love and compassion, but it wasn’t from you. You threw him away like trash, but the ones you curse held him like the treasure he always was. Human life always matters and should always be protected. I hope in his last moments that your son knew his worth and felt cared for. What a terrible privilege it was to hold the shell of your son’s body as his soul went home. 

I hope you feel the weight of your choices, and the unchangeable consequences that follow. I hope you are charged criminally for what you chose to do, but more importantly I hope you are never granted the privilege of bringing another human life into the world again. You will always be undeserving of the title, “Mother.” 

Combat Stress Magazine

Combat Stress magazine is written with our military Service Members, Veterans, first responders, and their families in mind. We want all of our members and guests to find contentment in their lives by learning about stress management and finding what works best for each of them. Stress is unavoidable and comes in many shapes and sizes. It can even be considered a part of who we are. Being in a state of peaceful happiness may seem like a lofty goal but harnessing your stress in a positive way makes it obtainable. Serving in the military or being a police officer, firefighter or paramedic brings unique challenges and some extraordinarily bad days. The American Institute of Stress is dedicated to helping you, our Heroes and their families, cope with and heal your mind and body from the stress associated with your careers and sacrifices.

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