During the sentencing of the man who killed her son, the mother of Nick Haverland gave an victim's impact statement that seemed to move many people in the packed courtroom.
Susan Haverland described her 20-year-old son Nicholas "Nick" Joel Haverland as her touchstone, alter ego, inspiration, challenger and conscience.
She wanted the community to know what kind of man her son was and why his loss impacted so many lives.
Nick Haverland had many dreams and inspired to do great things, his mother said.
is curiosity and vivid imagination let him see nature and science in ways that were unique, she told the judge.
She proudly remarked that her son was accepted into the prestigious ethno-botany program at the University of Hawaii.
"He was going to find a cure for cancer in the rain forest," she told the judge.
Singh, 50, was sentenced to 15 years to life on Wednesday after he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
"He brought a light to our lives that we never knew could be possible. He fulfilled my deepest dreams - the ones that for years I dared not to dream. And now, I have no idea how I'm going to get over losing him, Mr. Singh, you took that from me."
Adding, "How do you say goodbye to the son that fulfilled my deepest desires and loved so wisely, so simply, and so purely? What do I do with Nick's hopes and dreams? His future? Our future as a family?..."
Outside the courtroom, I asked Ms. Haverland if I could post her victim impact statement on my blog and without hesitation and a smile, she said "yes, I would love that."
To read the entire victim impact statement click below:
Susan Haverland's Victim Impact Statement
"I am Susan Haverland. Nicholas Joel Haverland was my son. My firstborn. My touchstone. My alter ego. My inspiration. My challenger. My conscience. The best thing that ever happened to me.
It took me years to get the confidence to be a mother. I had a premonition that something bad would happen to my child. After much soul searching and therapy, 18 years after Jim and I came together, Nick was born. He was our miracle. We loved him instantly, and nothing about that changed, ever. He brought a light to our lives that we never knew could be possible. He fulfilled my deepest dreams--the ones that for years I dared not to dream. And now, I have no idea how I'm going to get over losing him. Mr. Singh, you took that from me.
I keep waiting for him to come home. It's time for him to come home. I keep waiting to hear him burst into the room and say, "Mom, I just saw the most amazing thing!" Invariably, it was something wonderful. To Nick's dying day, he never failed to call to share his latest discoveries and revelations. They were illuminating and life-affirming. But the calls don't come anymore. And I am lost. Because of you, Mr.Singh.
How do I say goodbye to the son that fulfilled my deepest desires and loved so wisely, so simply, and so purely? What do I do with Nick's hopes and dreams? His future? Our future as a family? When he died, Nick had been accepted into the prestigious ethno-botany program at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. He was going to find a cure for cancer in the rain forest. Ethno-botany, tropical surroundings, and a clear vision of how he wanted to change the world. There is nothing nobler than that. Nick did have nobility about him, an interest in the little guy and a deep moral compass that guided him to many important causes. Now we are left to grieve what might have been, instead of celebrating the milestones of his life--career, marriage, children. We cannot celebrate those moments with Nick because of you, Mr.Singh.
We are not alone in our grief. Nick leaves behind a younger brother who also is the best thing that ever happened to us. (When it comes to children, you can have two favorites.) Griffin shared that awful night in May with us. He is now without his beloved brother, his touchstone, his friend. Mr. Singh, how could you rob my son of his only brother?
Nick was also a beloved friend. Here are a few of his friends' remembrances of him from a classmate: Some days, I see a bicyclist and a tiny part of me hopes that when I pass him, I'll see your face. And it hurts a little more every time I don't. You were 100% one of a kind, Nick, and I know that I will never meet anyone as truly genuine, kind and honest as you. But I'm so blessed to have known you for the years I have.
From the troubled young boy living next door with his grandparents: Living next to Nick is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. I go over to his house to see what is new. He shares all of his knowledge with me. One thing that I love about Nick is that he loved me as a brother. He was always somewhere where I could hang out with him. He always had a smile and he knew what I was talking about.
From one of his professors: Nick would have made a great professor one day. He was so kind to his fellow classmates, so enthusiastic in sharing his knowledge and so perceptive when he asked questions or made comments. His passion for living and learning was remarkable.
From the mother of one of his friends: Nick was the first young man to give my daughter the gift of companionship. How fortunate she was that this first friendship was with such an amazing young gentleman. My daughter's friendship with Nick brought new meaning to and indeed changed her life. I grieve and my heart aches for your unbearable loss...Yet I rejoice in the uncommon life Nick lived, the worth of his deeds and the power of his dreams that will be the seeds of inspiration for my daughter and so many others whose lives he touched.
From another friend: Nick, thank you for sharing your music, your hiking trails, your knowledge, and your ideas with me. I had some of the best conversations I'd ever had--and probably will ever have--with you. I am a better person for having known you. Thank you. Thank you for believing in me. I'll miss you.
From his beloved clarinet teacher: Nick - beautiful soul, generous heart, wicked humor, stellar intellect, bottomless curiosity, brilliant light, "buggy" beyond belief, passionate and honest. You are now part of the Nature you loved. Thanks for sharing the music of life with me. Such a brilliant light!
From a close friend around the first anniversary of Nick's death: It was 366 days ago that we lost such an amazing person. A tragic loss for those of us who had the pleasure of knowing you, an unknown disappointment for those who hadn't met you yet, and an unforgettable, unforgivable accident for the entire society. 366 days ago today, I felt more pain than I have ever experienced before. Fell to my knees, beyond tears, alone in the school parking lot. 366 days now, you've been living among the animals and nature of your dreams. As for myself, I have spent 366 days informing others about drinking and driving. You are still changing the world!
Mr.Singh, you took from each one of these people, and so many more, a special person in their lives.
Nick wanted to change the world, and now he cannot. I wanted Nick to change the world, but what I am left with instead is the most hideous memory of my life: arriving at the scene of the accident just after the police had placed a sheet over his body, pleading and pleading with the police to just let me lie down beside my boy as the life flowed out of him. That's all I wanted to do, to hold him. I wanted to whisper in his ear that it was okay to go if he needed to go, that we love him beyond words and forever, that he was a wonderful person and a wonderful son and an amazing friend.
But the police wouldn't let me--the crime scene needed to be protected.
Mr. Singh, you killed my beloved son and denied me my last moments with him. You killed my beloved firstborn son and denied me my last moments with him.
By the time we were allowed to touch Nick for the last time, his flesh was cold. Cold. No parent should ever have to experience that. But because of your reckless actions, Mr. Singh, Jim and I had to.
I have looked for signs of remorse in you but I see just the opposite: you stare at me in court as if trying to intimidate me, and while you were out on bail you haunted me in the hallways. Not a glimmer of compassion or remorse to be found. Even to the letter of the law--two speeding tickets while you were out on bail? What kind of human being drives recklessly after already causing such mayhem and damage?
No, the only time I saw any emotion on your face was when you were walking into court to enter your guilty plea. Tears streamed down your face. Tears of self pity, nothing more than self pity.
I hope you are in prison for a long time.You need to reflect on the irreparable damage you did to my family and to the other families you hit that awful day in May. You need to reflect on the irreparable damage you did to the young man who was riding with Nick that day. You need to recognize the deathly consequences of your callous actions. I have no pity for you, but I pity your family. They are victims too.
Because of you, my premonition of something bad happening to my beautiful Nick came true. Slowly, and with a lot of help, I am struggling to ease my fear that the other shoe will drop at any moment. My life will never be the same. My family will never be the same. Nick's friends will never be the same.
You took from all of us a life filled with love, learning, curiosity, empathy and wisdom. And you took from Nick the opportunity to live the life he dreamed of, on a planet he loved so dearly. The only comfort I can find is in words that Nick wrote when he was 16 years old. He was asked to write an essay called "This I Believe," and he chose to write about our favorite family spot in the Sierras, the place where Nick was christened and where his ashes now lie:
"One cannot say their life is complete until they have experienced firsthand the wonder of nature. I believe that the ancient pocket meadow clinging to the face of the dome is an altar, and the snake within, a priest. I believe the dark, cold water of the deep ground-out stone pools is holy and that the only baptism I need is from here. I believe that the lichen on the rocks is the only scripture I need to know. And that the glowing slashes from the ancient glaciers are my stained glass. I believe that the waterfall at the end of the dome is an organ that never stops playing. I believe the universe consipires to make this place holy, for at night the stars burn bright and meteors streak the sky. I believe that the bears keep to their side of the river because they know what this place is. I believe that the frog in the crack of stone is a monk and his stone is a monastery and that he sings psalms every night for all to hear. I believe that regardless of how much the faithless vandalize it, this place is a temple. No matter what force tears through it, this place is my mosque. This I believe: nature is my religion and this place is my cathedral."
The words of a 16-year old, allowed to live only until he was 20. They comfort me because they communicate Nick's deep sense of appreciation for the life he lived in the few years he was with us. Imagine what he could have accomplished had he not been killed by you, Mr. Singh. This is what we have lost.
Dec. 7, 2012