I will tell you hard things
What a terrible day.
What an absolutely devastating day.
I have silently cried steaming tributaries that will join a sea of sorrow located somewhere around Orlando, Florida.
But only when you weren’t looking.
I stole my cries like cigarettes from my mother’s drawer.
I tiptoed around grief, thinking it would shield you from the consequences. If I just let it sleep a little longer you might not notice it was there.
Then I yelled at you out of frustration. Then I hugged you a little extra out of guilt. Then I cried when your hair smelled like the perfect mix of sunscreen and chlorine and I thought of all of those mothers who will never catch that scent, or any scent, of their children again.
It was awake.
I had to tell you a hard thing today. I had to because it was too large to shimmy around. There have been other hard things. Many of them. Sometimes I have told you the abridged version, sometimes I have not told you a thing. But today, there was no room between us for this thing I never wanted you to know. So I had to look in your hazel eyes and plead for the right words to find me.
Should I say “hate crime” to a seven and nine year old? Do I tell you the number of people who were killed? Do I tell you “it didn’t happen here” as quickly as my mouth can mutter, as if the zip code can determine how one should react. Should I talk about how sad I feel? Should I tell you how scared I feel? Should I even be doing this at all?
“I hate him,” you said with such fierceness that I immediately regretted my decision.
“I hate him so much. I wish I could hurt him.”
You can’t, I explained. That is the hardest part of all of this. If you hate him, or if you hate anyone, then the darkness will win. You have to find a spot in you, even if it is buried deep beneath a lot of anger, that loves him. Can you look for that spot?
I can’t blame you. Nobody wants to look for that spot right now. Instead we rightfully want to be angry, be furious, and we want justice. But it is 24 hours too late for justice.
So we have to keep looking. We can dig deeper within our own self, or we can fester in the unknown of someone else. Keep digging.
Later I took you to a vigil where you pranced through the crowd with candles drawn like swords. Defenders of justice. Or at least staking your claim to cartwheel territory.
Someone with a microphone asked you if you wanted to say anything to the people in Orlando. I sucked air through my teeth, willing you to forget your message of hatred and embrace a more stoic rapport.
“I hope you are not feeling too sad, and I hope everyone is thinking about this a whole lot.”
You found your spot.
I had to tell you a hard thing today. It won’t be the last, I am certain, but it might be the first time I was this honest with you about the world that we live in.
I am glad that I did.
Because tonight, when I go to sleep, I’m going to see your sweet faces. Tonight, when I reflect on this day I’m going to hear your triumphant words. And tomorrow, when I wake up, I’m going to do everything I can to help make less hard things in this world.
Now, because I told you the hard thing, I know you are going to do the same.