I didn’t hear the news right away, and I was glad I’d already woken up, sipped on strong coffee, roused my boy out of bed, made him a plateful of eggs and readied him for his summer camp play. He played Buffalo Bill, wore a fake fur vest from my closet. He was full of adrenaline and he left me kiss him goodbye as he leaped from the car, excited.
All of those everymorning things happened while another woman in Aurora, Colorado was engulfed in her own grief. Another woman is always suffering the incomprehensible loss of a child while we are going about our daily lives, smearing out the sleep from our eyes, the tangles from baby hair, the mess from diapers, the leftover sandwiches from lunchboxes, the gray rocks from dirty pants pockets, the visible tomatoes from pizza, the tears from faces of children of all ages.
That’s the damnedest thing about living through a crisis yourself: other people get to go on with their days, their kids, their inconsequential worries while we are left gashed open.
My eyes scanned the screen from one breaking news article to the next about the man who sprayed gunfire into a movie theater. And then I could only see one thing: the image of my own body laid over my son’s like a shield. It was a horrible thought, but it was an instinct, just as most of us would react if we’d been one of the mothers in that room or any room where rage has been unleashed.
I had to write that image, and the words that came forth became this, “A mother’s meditation after another senseless shooting.” It is a poem, it is a prayer, it is some way to connect what I think mamas feel in the midst of the unthinkable.
I sent it out across social networks as I do links to my own posts, but this time as a way of whispering that meditation again and again. Maybe, I thought, enough focus on what we do for love will blur the hard edges of the pain we feel in sympathy, in empathy, in surviving.
Something humbling happened. It was shared and shared and shared. My phone dinged with texts from other mothers. There were a few emails. I am not a person with millions of followers or readers, which makes each response even more impactful. We, women and mothers and people pausing in their day, were gathering around in solemn stillness, if only for a moment, if only through a link. Our connection is a web that perhaps will extend cosmically, spiritually, vibrationally, intentionally to the mothers who escaped last night with their babies in hand and those who feel the air where their children should be.
Mothers, I want you to know that yes, as some Facebook statuses and thoughts have read, the world is sad and cruel. But there is so much more than that, and much of it rests in what we’d do to protect our children, what we feel when another mother cries.
Mothers, fathers, grandparents: What are you meditating on today?
Read more of Jessica’s adventures as a single mom in the city at Sassafrass.
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