CLINTON, NC (WBTV) - Life is a bit slower in Clinton, North Carolina for Bob and Elona Clark. The couple has lived in the small Sampson County town, about four hours from Charlotte, for over a decade now. But the memories of their son Sean still run through their minds constantly.
"It's just like a piece of a pie that's not there and you have to work around it," Elona said.
The Clark's missing piece can be seen just about everywhere you look inside their home. Sean's bright smile cannot be avoided. While Bob says he's learned to cope better with Sean's death, it's something a parent will never really get over.
"It's easier now than what it used to be. But you're not going to get over it. It's there. It's something that happened and you just have to deal with it," Bob told WBTV.
3,653 days have come and gone since officers came to the door with the very worst of news. Sean and his partner Jeff Shelton, both CMPD officers in the North Tryon division, had been ambushed and shot while responding to a call in the Timber Creek Apartment complex.
"Bob said 'Well, how bad off?' and I stood up and said, 'He's dead' and he was. You just knew? Yeah. I just knew. I can still see him when we went to Charlotte and got to the hospital. I can still see him laying on that. I can see the band-aid they put over him," Elona said.
While Sean is on their minds a lot, they try not to give the same attention to Demetrius Montgomery, the man responsible for their void. He's currently serving a life sentence in a prison not far from them.
"I got the address and I was going to send him a card. But I haven't done it. Just to tell him I hope you're enjoying your holidays and your vacation because I'm sure missing part of mine," Elona said.
As for forgiveness?
"You ain't never going to forgive him. No. He took something that he had no right to. So, no. There's no forgiveness," Bob said.
Every year on the anniversary of her son's death, Elona comes back to Charlotte and visits the place where Sean took his last breath. Bob stays at home.
"That's something I haven't been able to deal with yet... That's just my way of coping," he said.
But comfort does come when they get to see Sean's two sons.
"The oldest one looks just like him. Spitting image. Acts just like him too," Bob said.
When you lose a child any sense of normalcy goes with them. But Bob and Elona get by clinging to days when their hearts and family were whole.
"Things he said, things he did. They're right there. So you don't lose that. Because all you've got it the memories so you've got to keep it alive," Bob said.