I woke up this morning and saw the fires.
Sometimes in the light of heavy media coverage, I try to detach myself and remove the influences of the reporters and television stations. There are always more sides not being covered for every one side that the media reports on. But this isn’t about the media.
This is my heart reaching out to Lesley. The woman that bore the child who was lost to this tragedy.
Why to you specifically, Lesley? Because in this immediate moment your face is the face of every mother who is raising a son right now.
When we, as mothers, hold our son in our arms that first time it is a moment that cannot be put into words. A mother’s instinct is fiercely protective. A real mother would die before letting harm come to their child. In that moment of first contact there is a feeling of panic. Suddenly the world is a living breathing monster and we are the Slayer straight out of a movie charged with the protection of Earth’s most precious cargo.
Days go on, months go by, years push past. We go through trials and tribulations. Tantrums, battles of will, defiance.. And every day, we — the mothers — look into their faces and see the bright eyes of the infant we carried inside of us. Flesh of our flesh. Their heartbeat, our own. They pull away and we are left grasping at tiny fingers that have become the weathered hands of an “almost-man”.
We send them into the world and are confident that we’ve done all that we could…… didn’t we?
You are the face of every mother, Lesley — standing at the window and cursing that child. It’s an hour past curfew. Where is he, damnit?
He thinks you’re smothering him but three blocks away, a young man is shot dead. Another killed in a car accident because of a drunk driver. A teenager his age is missing 30 miles away, his car “left abandoned”.
You’re screaming at him because he thinks he’s a man. He stands there defiantly, chin held upward with his chest thrust forward like a lion. Yes..a lion. My lion who I fed, clothed, and provided for. My lion who I put my own life down for to keep the hyenas away. My lion who must now go into that jungle and earn your own scars.
He shouting, “You don’t understand!”
You’re right. I don’t understand. I don’t understand: violence just to be violent, opportunity wasted, why you don’t listen! why you are pulling away, why you won’t get out of here and be the Lion I raised — the KING of the jungle, not the fodder of the pride, why you don’t see how amazing you are…why are you hurting yourself! why are you in a hurry! Wake up, son….wake up.
The media fills the airwaves with pictures of your son smiling. You remember that moment. You could talk for hours about that day as if it were yesterday. Meanwhile everyone watching rolls their eyes and sighs because they’re playing this again.
Another photo..He’s so crazy. He is making that face and leaning into you. The same way he did when he was three years old. You smile. We (other moms) smile. We relate.
Next frame is the salt and injury. The video depicting him as just another street thug. The “judgement” because he threw down lyrics to a rap song. What boy hasn’t said things that would make their momma want to wash their mouths out?! The judgement is so heavy across the country you feel it. They judge you, your family, your values, your morals…your Lion.
Be still, mother. Do not let them take this from you. Push their voices and their judgement away into the universe. Breathe in deep, clear your mind, and find within you the child who you have lost. It’s not about the media, the lies, the judgement…this is about your baby. When the ashes fall to the earth again, you will have your moment to rise but right now this is about you and him.
I’m writing this to you Lesley because when others were burning down businesses after you and your family so courageously asked for peace — I would’ve been filled with rage — they didn’t come to you and put their arms around you.
You lost your Lion. The heartless jungle of animals took him from you. The jungle did. It is un-feeling, dangerous, and cold. The other animals have set fire to it in your Lion’s name but we know it is not to honor him. They are destroying his home, his memory, and any good that might have come from his death. The jungle takes, and takes, then takes some more.
There are no words of comfort. The grey ashes that dance and float on the acrid air of Ferguson are a symbol of the hope and loss that you, and all of us, have suffered. So I’m sending out a little flicker of light your way, hoping that somehow, someway …my spirit will reach yours.
A mother’s love does not know color, race, religion…a real mother ..one who is born and bred to hold the heavy invisible crown upon her head — sees only another mother who has suffered a loss that each one of us fears the most.
I will cry with you. I will mourn with you. In spirit, and in love I will embrace you.
It is my hope that anyone who has lost a son, friend, sister, brother, aunt, mother….anyone.. to violence — please — reach out to one another. You are welcome to post a name, a prayer, a thought to anyone you’ve lost to keep their memory alive. I’m calling out to mothers, especially, because we have to protect our children.