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The Day Innocence Died

Updated: June 29, 2008, 1:25 PM ET
By Michael Weinreb
It's true, what she says about the graves. I went to see them not long after I heard Lonise Bias tell an incredible story to a group of South Carolina high school students: While witnessing the burial of her son Jay, she looked down and realized she was standing on the grave of her eldest son Leonard. I had assumed it was a rhetorical flourish, a metaphor crafted for effect by a guest speaker who was getting paid to whack some sobriety into a roomful of spaced-out pubescents with self-image issues. But then I drove to the cemetery, in a suburb of Washington called Suitland, and I trudged up a hill, and I found the markers, a couple of rectangles blotched with age, stamped into the dirt and rocks and tufts of grass. And it is true -- there is perhaps a foot of space between her boys. They are, quite literally, resting side by side.

The graves, tucked together like this, are a stark testimony to the complexity of Lonise Bias' grief. It is impossible to comprehend the hellish depths she has plumbed, and it is equally difficult to see how she emerged with such palpable vigor and determination and self-assurance.

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