I don’t normally do personal. I don’t particularly like to share in that way. Prose. Poetry. Short story. Those are mediums I use to entertain but, tonight, I don’t write to amuse you. Tonight, I’m going for full transparency.
For the people who know me well–a handful of individuals, my family and my kids–I’m not an emotional person. Steering clear of heartfelt and meaningful has been my modus operandi, but not tonight. Tonight, I feel. And I feel deeply.
After the Orlando massacre, I’m not ashamed to admit, that I had to decompress. I had to go several days without reading or watching the news because I so deeply feared. Feared for myself. For my safety. For my life. So paranoid in the days that followed, I constantly found myself looking over my shoulder. Taking my kids out shopping or on errands, I wondered–more than ever before-what others saw when they looked at me. I didn’t sleep and, when I did, nightmares plagued me. I avoided grocery shopping and anything else that would call me to leave the safety of my home though, even there, I felt far less than secure. But tonight, these last few days, my anxiety has been disproportioned.
For a parent, there is no greater threat than that directed at one’s child. For me, it is my child for whom I fear. For his safety. For his future. For his life.
I found myself–like so many nights before–wandering into his bedroom, his dim nightlight glowing faintly in the corner. Our family dog–his faithful companion–curled by his side and him, my beautiful son, sleeping so contentedly. So unaware of the dangers of the world. So disillusioned to the state of life around him. In his eyes, everything is peace and calm and happiness. But isn’t that the way the world should look to a child? Never mind the carnage. The blood and the fear. The violence and hatred.
My son always sleeps so soundly which is a marvel to me who’s suffered from sleeplessness for more years than I can account for. But, lying beside him, I find such comfort. Comfort that can nowhere else be afforded to me.
I climbed into my son’s bed and held him in my arms. Flipping his pillow, wiping the sweat from his brow and, in his ear, whispering to him that I loved him. Never once in my youth had I considered that I would ever love another more than myself but, I do and I tell him this.
‘You are my heart,’ I whisper quietly to him, careful, so as not to wake him. ‘You are my soul. You are beautiful and kind and smart and sweet and you are loved. More than you’ll ever know, you are loved.’ Tears bead down my cheeks adding to the moisture in his hair and I kiss them away as tenderly as though they were his own. ‘Please stay safe,’ I beg of him, though I know he can control this no more than any other of the black men who’s lives have been stolen from them. ‘Please be careful and please stay safe,’ I say again; a useless entreaty, but I make it nonetheless. I kiss my son once more, thoughts of what so many others must be feeling tonight–what countless others have felt before–tearing into my heart.
Every life lost once belonged to someone. Was loved by someone. Was nurtured by someone. Every life, every heart, every tear shed, is felt by someone. But, tonight, these silent tears are my own. This broken heart–though it cannot know the true depth of those lost lives–grieves. We all belong to someone. We are all loved by someone. Please open your eyes and see more. See beyond yourselves. We are all a part of this world.