A Letter to My Son After a Mass Shooting

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Dearest Felix,

It’s been 48 hours since the deadliest mass shooting in US history. As your mom, I want to shield you from this reality. I never want you to know about such violence, such tragedy.

But also, as your mom – I need to be the one to talk to you about this.

Sometimes – unbelievable tragedy breaks out in the world and we do not know why.
Sometimes – one’s own pain and anguish translates into mass destruction like this.
When this happens in the world – you will see fear emerge. We start to fear the other; we fear what we do not know; we fear public places and political leaders-and most of all we fear our neighbors.

I do not know how we find security again after such a horrific event, but I do know that only love can overcome hate, only light can overcome darkness.

My dear child, as you grow and learn and experience the world- I pray that you remember to know and love your neighbor: your gay neighbor, your Muslim neighbor, your black neighbor, your Asian neighbor, your homeless neighbor, your mentally ill neighbor, your NRA member Neighbor, your green party neighbor, and everything in between.

By know your neighbor – I mean learn his mother’s name. Understand what he loves, and what he fears. Figure out where his passion is and what hardships he’s faced.
Remember that all of your neighbors are human beings as well – trying desperately to navigate in this broken world.

Remember that we are all in this together, and that we belong to one another.

Never forget the vulnerability and tenderness within your neighbors.

Always remember that every person you meet is made in the image of God – therefore they are an opportunity to know more about goodness and grace.

Knowing and loving your neighbor will not stop tragedy in the world – but it can stop your fear. It can stop the temptation to draw lines between insider and outsider, good and evil, sameness and otherness – and this will begin to heal the world.

I love you with all my heart, darling. And each of your neighbors has a mother that loves them too. Or they don’t – all the more reason to show them compassion.

I long for you to be safe, secure, confident, courageous, but most of all compassionate because the world desperately needs your loving heart.

When the dark times come – remember my voice. Remember how much you are loved. Remember that every human being deserves the same love. Be that love in the world, because that is where the healing begins.

I believe you will be someone who can make a difference. The bright light of your soul gives me hope and times like this.

Love, Mama

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Soft, Warm Things- A Cat Obituary

Phoebe

 

+Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is a dwelling place, And underneath are the everlasting arms…

 We lost our cat Phoebe last night. We found her curled up in her own bed- we hope she passed peacefully in her sleep.

We are sad.

She was the first shared investment for me and Andrew.

She was a witness to our lives for 9 years in 5 different homes across 3 different states.

We loved her.

Phoebe struggled from the beginning. She hated sharing space and attention with my cat Oliver. She rebelled against her domesticity by sabotaging her environment regularly.

Once, she found an unopened, 10 pound bag of food and chewed her way into it- secretly eating from this hidden stash for weeks until we noticed she’d gained 4 pounds.

She groomed herself and others obsessively. Her back was covered in bald spots from over-licking. Her sandpaper tongue scraped our hands and wrists without ceasing every time we held her.

Phoebe struggled.

Last night, the struggle ended. She was released into the great beyond, held by the everlasting arms- and I’m grieving.

Sure- there are bigger problems in the world. There is more to grieve than a family cat.

But still- I will miss that soft, warm being.

I will miss her fur under my palms as I pet her after a long day. I will miss the warmth of her tiny body on my lap and the vibrations of her happy purrs as we leisurely sat on the couch. I will miss the simple joy she brought to our house. I will miss how she connected with us, listened to us, loved us, and reminded us to be still for a moment.

I will miss her because she was a good pet- but also because there seem to be so few soft, warm things in the world.

Daily, we encounter the sharp edges of a brutal election season. We face the piercing headlines of young women raped on college campuses or musical icons overdosing in elevators or righteous Internet debates about children vs. gorillas.

The world can be hard and cold.

I will miss our sweet bundle. I will miss the escape our cat offered to us no matter what sharp or piercing realities swarmed.

I will mourn the loss of her soft, warm presence in the world because we already have a deficit.

I picture Phoebe in her own soft, warm place now. I imagine her in the everlasting arms- and this new dwelling place is free from all pain and struggle.

To honor Phoebe’s life, perhaps we can all set aside more time for connecting, listening, and loving one another.

Phoebe taught me the value of soft, warm stillness. So to Phoebe, I say: thank you. Rest well, dear one.

 

 

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