It is Friday afternoon and I am in my usual position - propped up in bed with my laptop - when Musa calls to remind me he will be home early, just as I am hitting my stride. Crap. I completely forgot. I check the clock. I have exactly 20 minutes to pick up Lincoln from school, then head to the train station to get Musa, if and only if I'm planning to get there on time. Of course, like the procrastinator I am, I keep writing for five more minutes, then run out the door like a madman on a mission.
I make it to Lincoln's school with no time to spare and painstakingly endure his daily ritual of hugging each and every one of his friends before we leave. I try to be patient as I watch him walk purposefully from classmate to classmate, exchanging polite hugs and huge smiles. The teachers look on approvingly. To my knowledge, he is the only kid that does this and although it's insanely cute, it takes forever.
"Ok, Linc. Come on time to go!"
In the hallway, on the way out the door, he stops abruptly.
"Oh no! I forgot Kal!" he exclaims. I give him a look that lets him know Kal will not be getting a hug today.
"We have to go get daddy, sweetie. You can give Kal a hug tomorrow."
"Okaaaaay," he says as I shuffle him off to the car and strap him in. I glance quickly at the clock as we reverse out the parking lot. I have exactly two minutes to make it to the train station. It's a five minute drive with no lights. We get stuck at the very first light. My exhaustion hits me all at once. It's been a busy day, with no nap.
I yawn subconsciously.
"Are you tired mommy?" His tiny voice rings sweetly from the backseat.I smile at him in the rear view mirror wondering where he made the connection between yawns and fatigue.
"Yes, mommy is tired Lincoln," I reply.
"Me too, mommy," he says like an old man, folding his hands behind his head. "Lincoln tired too."
* * *
"What is it?" I ask, concerned.
It is 10:30 p.m. and Musa and I are both relaxing comfortably in bed - him scrolling through his phone and me propped up with my laptop working. He is staring at the screen silently in a mix of disbelief and horror, his hand clasped over his mouth, his eyes a mix of sadness and anger.
After a few seconds of him glaring unwaveringly at his phone, I know without him having to say a word.
"A man was beat up outside a 7-Eleven in Chicago," he tells me, eyes still glued to the screen. "While he was laying unconscious in the street, the people who saw what happened robbed him and stole all his stuff. No one called police. No one did anything. They just left him there. And then a taxi ran over him and he died. He was 32."
My stomach turns in that familiar way. The way it did earlier this week when I heard about, Amy Joyner, a 16-year-old girl murdered in a bathroom in a Delaware high school when she got jumped by a group of girls. Or when I think about 15-year-old Davonte Washington, murdered on a subway platform in DC in front of his mother and sister. Or Trayvon Martin. Or my neighbor who was ambushed and murdered outside my window when I was 14 years old, making his younger brother an only child.
Musa turns the screen toward me and I barely catch a glance of the video before looking away in disgust.
"I don't want to see," I tell him.
I don't want to see. I am tired of seeing. It hurts too much to see. I am tired of hearing about things like this happening over and over. Our very nature is evil. We do horrible things. We watch as others do horrible things. We visit sites like WorldStarHipHop.com because we love violence. We love to see people get hurt. And when people die, we barely flinch. The world notices only until the next breaking news story comes along.
I am tired of playing out scenarios in my mind to keep my son safe. Do we put him in kickboxing so he can defend himself? What will we tell him about how to handle bullying in school? When do we have the talk with him about what to do if he gets pulled over by a cop? And what about all his internal struggles I will never even know? How do I keep him off the news? Off WorldStarHipHop.com? How do I keep him alive when he lives in a world like this one?
And what of myself? If I saw someone in the street, would I call police? I passed homeless people sleeping on the streets every day when I worked in DC. Would I know the difference? Would I get involved? Would I stop to play Good Samaritan? Am I just as guilty as everyone else? My thoughts overwhelm me as my eyes grow hot.
"Can we pray for his family?" I barely whisper.
It is the only resolution that quiets my anxieties and brings peace to the ache in my heart I know will continue to grow as long as I am alive. As long as the evil in this world continues. There is only one remedy for eyes too tired to see. And hearts worn out from grieving.
Come quickly, Lord.