Quamari was the smallest in his class, but his friends would come to him for advice and listen to him. He was teaching me dominoes the day before it happened.
We spent the whole evening playing. He kept saying “Let's play just one more game.”
I should have played one more game.
I got the call as I was walking through the front door. My daughter said “Mum, Quamari has been stabbed!” We got in the car and went down there. It was really cold that day. One thing that sticks in my head is there were loads of people but there was a dead silence. Then Quamari said, “That's my Mum!” You wouldn't have thought he’d just been stabbed. He was telling me not to worry even while he was on the floor, and in the ambulance, he told me to put my seat belt on.
At the hospital they couldn't believe he'd lost so much blood because he was still talking and singing. Your son is a character, the nurses told me. The doctors were positive and enthusiastic. They were going to operate and hopefully everything would be all right.
You wouldn't have expected what was coming next. Suddenly the nurses weren't as upbeat - they must have known. I thought, whatever’s happening, we'll deal with it. Then I looked at the surgeon’s eyes. He didn’t have to say anything. I could tell. I remember everyone screaming, and that set off everybody outside.
Every one of his friends and all my relatives were there. Younger kids and older people were crying. Everyone had their personal grief. I remember thinking “I can't lose it now, I've got to stay strong.” There's a lot of people I had to think about, especially my daughters and my grandkids. I don't even know if I cried that day.
Within five minutes of being told, I called my Auntie to tell her he was gone. That was the hardest thing about that day. I had to compose myself to deliver the news. It was hard because I know how close she was. Although she's my Auntie, she treated him like her son, so in Quamari’s eyes, she was his second Mum.
Although I'm his Mum, it felt like I was informing the Mum that she'd lost her son. She was crying and begging me, “No it can’t be, please tell me it's not true.” She was crying for a long time. It was hard because I had to hear her expression of what I was feeling inside.
I said I need to see Quamari there and then, but I couldn't see him for weeks. They needed to do forensics, the autopsy and so forth. When we got to the morgue and I saw him, it hit me. He looked like he was sleeping. I even recall asking "Did you see him breathe?" like it could be a mistake. But it wasn't a mistake. Leaving him there was very hard.
My Auntie and my Dad were my safety nets. I needed them to be there so I could express the emotions I was feeling rather than holding it back. So I could have my turn to scream, to break down, to cry and let go. And so I could let Quamari go.
It can be hard to make the call to say someone is involved in knife crime, especially if it’s someone you know or love. But it’s so much harder if you don’t. It’s almost as bad to lose a child or a friend to prison as it is to lose them if they’re killed. Either way, they’re going to suffer as a result of knife crime.
If you have information about knife crime and want to remain anonymous, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers. Their service is available via phone and online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Calling with information about knife crime may feel hard. But there are harder calls.