Woke up at 4am.
My head and heart pounding with the thought of the mothers waking up without their babies today.
Counting the minutes until mine would burst open his door and pad his eight and a half year old toes across the wood floor.
Usually - as parents - it's the opposite wish.
Just a few more minutes for me to sleep. To read. To eat. To daydream. To anything.
But, today was different.
I wanted him here. Now.
An ache in my chest for two hours.
So unbearable, I had to hold myself back from rousing him just to feel fingertips on my cheek (is it time to cut your fingernails?) and warm breath on my face.
Just to whisper “I love you” over and over like some seemingly magical spell that cannot protect. But, he needed to dream a little longer.
He deserved his peace and quiet before having to face another day in this country on fire.
So he slept.
And I braced myself.
At school drop off.
An absentminded question.
“Mama… I wonder why the police are here.”
The lie comes like breathing. “I don’t know…”
The truth stings my eyes and catches in my throat.
And like so many other parents performing this daily routine around the nation, my heart breaks a little more, as we collectively enter another day in America.
To my child... I'm sorry I am raising you in a country that can't get its shit together.
I'm sorry that the people in power care more about keeping that power than they do about your life.
I'm sorry that practicing for a lock-down drill is as matter of fact as taking a math test.
I'm sorry that the biggest fears you will have on your way to school aren't a skinned knee or even a stranger with candy, but rather gunfire.
What's the breaking point to say “no more”? And not "no more, it must end" because it doesn’t seem to ever. But, "no more... we're f*cking out of here."
We've been conditioned to internalize the notion that "it is what it is." But it doesn't have to be like this. There's always another way, right?
And that way could be to simply leave. Right?
I mean, what are we afraid of? ‘Cause let’s face it. This is pretty damn terrifying.
Eva Mireles, 44
Irma Garcia, 46
Uziyah Garcia, 8
Eliana “Ellie” Lugo-Garcia, 9
Amerie Jo Garza, 10
Makenna Lee Elrod, 10
Xavier James Lopez, 10
Jose Flores, 10
Navaeh Bravo, 10
Alithia Ramirez, 10
Alexandria “Lexi” Rubio, 10
Eliahana “Elijah” Cruz Torres, 10
Tess Marie Mata, 10
Rojelio Torres, 10
Layla Salazar, 10
Maite Rodriguez, 10
Jailah Nicole Silguero, 10
Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, 10
Jackie Jaylen Cazares, 10
Annabelle Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10
Miranda Mathis, 11
*Miranda is missing from illustration.