Dear other mother,
I cannot fathom the depth of your grief and confusion. Nor can I understand the nuances of your story, what made it a better option to take the substantial risk to leave your home and come to foreign land with your child instead of living in the home you’ve known. I cannot know what you experienced.
I do know that hearing your story breaks my heart open. Part of my brain wants to protect myself by not imagining our positions reversed. By halfway mentally acknowledging your pain without experiencing any myself. But you don’t have that option. This grief is your life. When I try to picture having my two-year-old or four-and-a-half-year-old taken away from me in a place where we are not native language speakers, without being told how to find them again, I know that the sadness I feel in merely imagining fails to meaningfully compare to your reality. All it provides is a crack to let empathy pour through. Empathy without complete understanding seems better than no empathy at all.
I hope you find your child. I hope that the agencies holding you both find a way to work together to make it happen. Since there are many people on the ground working from their hearts to help, I hope some politician has the will to give them the tools to expedite the process. I write to my elected officials every day; so far the answers are platitudes with no action, but I promise to keep telling them that I, their constituent, demand that they be better and hold people accountable to the facts of the situation. Because facts still exist. And the fact is that you do not know where your child is. And that is unacceptable.
I don’t know your story. I don’t know the details of why you came. I can’t understand the depth of your pain. I believe you and your child belong together. I pray for you both. I’ll keep writing to those with whom the buck stops.
I can barely stand to imagine your pain, which is, after all, the literal least I can do.
“There is more to life than the perfunctory, mechanical, aspirational day-to-day vibe. Behind it all is a passion that gets you up in the morning or keeps you up at night. You let the gifts inside of you pour out.”
Today I had the privilege of conversing with Rabbi Micah Greenstein at Temple Israel. I have always admired his ability to look beyond religion to express spirituality, philosophy and ethics. His opinions and beliefs about our city are inspiring. It’s been a rough few days, and he expressed, more elegantly than my circular thoughts, ideas that have been going through my brain about where we go from here.
All this to say, today I had a conversation that gave me pause and hope. It was a gift.
That girl looks so much like my girl.
I recognize her curls and her reaching hand.
I know her pink shoes.
What I thankfully don’t recognize on my own girl’s face is the fear.
Since I’ve first seen the picture, we’ve all learned more about the girl and her mother. We know parts of their story and that they were not separated. But they could have been. And so many were; that’s where I find it tragic. And kids are under foil blankets and playing behind fences and living in tent cities without their moms and dads. And they are kids.
They are kids.
How can that be controversial?
They are kids.
It’s been a year since I posted here. Despite starting a writing group (that has morphed into the lowest obligation book club imaginable), I haven’t done much writing at all. What I have been doing is reading, which has been even more reckless than usual–jumping from sociological studies of how race and class influence southern identity to YA novels that take 18 hours to finish to fiction by my personal literary heroes (Lauren Groff, I’m looking at you).
There are so many things that are about to happen. Which, as those of you with chronic anxiety know, is one of the worst states of being. That which is about to occur is so much scarier than that which is occurring. All these projects and deadlines and life events converge in September and October. I can do so little about them now, except prepare by making lists and DIYing a pickle barrel (for work–seriously). What I can do is read and sink into vast oceans of words that take the other thoughts away.