Today I was surprised. It took so much effort to stay focused on work while I waited for my Mom to wake up from surgery. I have been sitting in hospital waiting rooms since I was 15 years old, I should be used to it by now. But I barely got anything done today. At first I couldn't figure out why.
We've been through a lot, me and my Mom. It would be disingenuous to paint some sort of perfect mother/daughter relationship. We don't have that. But despite all of that, I love her. She will always be my Mom. Even as I am holding with care my anger, hurt, disappointment, and grief over the mother she never was, I also hold with care the love, compassion, gratefulness, and joy for the mother she was and is to me now. Carrying all of those polemic emotions, it still didn't occur to me until bedtime what the tears were really about. I only understood it, because earlier at dinner with a good friend the topic of the murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO came up. Much like I couldn't understand the heaviness of my heart in the hospital, I have been unable to understand the deep sense of heaviness I feel about Ferguson. Tonight, thinking of my Mother (who is recovering well) in the hospital and reading stories of what's happening in Ferguson, it finally hit me. No matter how old I get, I never get accustomed to the threat that she will die. Intellectually, I know it. I know that one day her body will succumb to it's diseases. I know I will get the call and I prepare myself for it - even as I know you are never really prepared. I know it is fact my Mom will die. That doesn't stop my heart from aching, saying no not yet. Please, not yet. Even as I am angry with her for past hurts and wounds, I love her. And something visceral screams, I can't make it without you, please don't leave me alone in this world. Please don’t go. Please don’t leave me alone.
|Mom and Me, around the same ages in our lives.|
So it is with Ferguson, with Mike Brown, with Terrance Franklin, with countless others. I'll never get used to their deaths. Like my Mother, like you, like me, like every human walking this earth, these were not perfect people yet they were someone's family, they deserved to live just as much as you or me. I’ll never get used to the feeling of presumed criminality. I’ll never get used to the feeling of our children being hunted by the police. I’ll never get used to the terror I feel in my heart when the police stop me. It’s not in my head—it’s a real and present danger. We don’t complain about the police, complaining is something you do when you’ve paid for a meal that doesn’t turn out right. We are crying out for our lives and the lives of our children. We are saying, “Don’t Shoot,” and our souls are saying please stop killing us, see that we are human and we deserve to live. We are crying out, as we have for centuries, declaring the most basic human instinct: we want to live, our life is a gift and it is not yours to take away. We did not get used to slavery, we are not used to imprisonment, and we will not get used to being shot at and constantly hounded by the police. It isn't right and it doesn't have to be. Like no one is, we are not a perfect people, but we deserve to live. Our lives are not yours to take, not yours to judge, not yours. Our lives are not yours, our lives belong to us and we are human. At some point like Gordon Parks talked about there is a choice of weapons...and only some will choose words.
There are no easy solutions to this. If we can believe in and feed the promise of our children, instead of feeding the idea that they are a threat that will help. Help us and let's help each other feed instead the idea of the promise of our children and each other, of their beauty, theirs and our humanity. Ideas are powerful things. Whether you do it with a gun or just an idea that we are dangerous or somehow so different from your own humanness and imperfections Stop. Killing. Us.