This April 22, 1993, at 7:30 p.m., “between dog and wolf”, this moment when the night comes to make the sun disappear. This moment when the fauna that roams the streets of Frogtown, a popular district northwest of Dallas, also changes. It’s the hour chosen by Sharlene to try to find methamphetamine, this drug which allows her to forget reality. But at the bend of a street, she comes across Jason. She knows it’s not her dose that she’s going to find, but the problems. The man is one of her dealers and she owes him a lot of money.
He asks her for her due, the tone rises, the blows rain down. Sharlene fights back, but Jason needs his money. Unleashed, he grabs her by the hair, takes out his knife and decides to settle his account definitively. When the police arrive on the scene, the young woman lies in her blood, lifeless. She leaves behind a 15-month-old little Mariah, whom she had with Donald Lucas, a loser like her, who will now have to take care of the little girl alone.
“When I was 12, I learned that my mother had been killed for money and that the culprit was in prison”
“Until I was 7 years old and my father was imprisoned, my mother was absolutely absent. She was no longer there, my father never spoke to me about her, I had no memory of her” , explains Mariah, 30 years old today. When her father finds himself behind bars, the little girl is placed with her maternal uncle and aunt. A life-changing change. Freed from the chaotic existence that her father made her suffer, still high, still between two houses, still penniless, the young girl grew up comfortably.
“My aunt used to say that my mother loved to sing and dance. That she loved to dress me in frilly dresses. And then, when I was 12, she told me that she had been killed for money and that the culprit was in prison.” In 2010, at the age of 19, Mariah became a single mother of a little Chase. Then, she meets the man of her life, Cody. They married in March 2012. Their son Dylan was born in November of the same year, and a little Harper completed the siblings in May 2014.
“Every day I spoke to my missing mother. Her killer was also on my mind”
“Every day I spoke to my missing mother about this family she will never know. Her killer was also on my mind. I had learned from my family that his name was Jason Clark, but I had not never researched the details of his trial or his sentence. I was too traumatized”, says the young mother. But in November 2015, life changed its position. “I had my wisdom teeth removed, which resulted in infection and severe septic shock. I was rushed to hospital and put in a coma. My heart stopped, but the doctors managed to save me. When I woke up, I realized how short life could be. I felt it was time to face the traumas I was carrying around. I had to face the murderer of my mother.”
In June 2016, after taking a month to write it, she sent him a five-page letter. A month later, Healing Dialogue and Action, an organization that links victims and perpetrators, explains to him that Jason has received his letter and that he is not authorized to answer him before the end of his detention. But after twenty-three years spent behind bars, Jason Clark will soon be released and he would like to meet her. “Immediately, I knew I wanted it too,” admits Mariah.
“When I saw Jason, all shaking, with tears in his eyes, I hugged him”
In December 2016, the ex-convict and the orphan see each other for the first time. “Standing behind the door, I was shaking with nervousness, recalls Mariah. Twenty-three years earlier, my mother had been murdered, and I was about to find myself face to face with her killer… I took a I took a deep breath and opened the door. He was sitting there shaking and had tears in his eyes. Without thinking, I walked over to him and hugged him.” During a three-hour discussion, Jason tells her the details of the drama. “It was a relief to know what had happened. He apologized to me, telling me that he had learned a lot during his incarceration.”
A week later, convinced of the validity of his forgiveness, she invited him to dinner with her husband Cody and their children. “Since then, a true friendship has developed. We see each other several times a year and call each other often. Forgiving Jason and helping him forgive himself has brought true peace to my life…I will forever cherish our friendship”, concludes the young woman whose orphan’s heart is now appeased.
Mariah and Jason Clark © INSTAGRAM BE.A.LIGHT.IN.THE.DARK