“They’re called Bui-Doi
The dust of life
Conceived in hell
And born in strife
They are the living reminders
Of all the good we failed to do
That’s why we know
Deep in our hearts
That they are all
Our children too”
One of the things that happens when you go through trauma or deep grief is that you lose the ability to be cognizant of anything else happening in the world. You’re so focused on putting one foot in front of the other, on sheltering yourself and those around you from the worst of the impact, that you lose sight of just about everything outside the trauma/grief bubble you find yourself in.
This is completely something to be expected. (Also–you forget to do things. Normal, ordinary things like renewing your driver’s license or paying your vehicle property taxes, but that’s another story for another day and thankyoubabyjesus for understanding county government workers!)
But then this happens.
And it makes you remember this.
And then you remember that time you wrote a book about hope and in it you specifically wrote about all the world’s children and how they’re ALL our responsibility and we cannot turn a blind eye to their cries for help and love and mercy.
And suddenly the bubble of your own heartache is burst and the world’s heartache comes crashing in like clanging cymbals and there’s no way to ignore the noise and chaos of it all.
The death of my daughter’s father this summer was widely publicized in our neck of the woods. So much so that her absolutely wonderful and amazing school reached out to me before I even had the thought to reach out to them. In the middle of summer they called to say, “Can we help? What do you need? What does she need for us to do for her when school starts?”
And I spent a good half hour on the phone with the principal and the vice principal and I told them my worries and fears for my daughter and asked them to please help me help her have a good experience going back to school. And they said, “Of course.”
We talked about what that might look like. And ways they could specifically support her. And what my needs as a concerned mother might be. And as we talked, I felt the anxiety about it all lessening, the tightness in my chest loosening, the worry of how she’d navigate a new year of school with such crisis and sadness so fresh lifting.
And then…then her vice principal said to me, “Ms. Richardson, we’ve got this. Please don’t worry. We’ve got her.”
We’ve got this.
We’ve got her.
And so they do.
I am grateful beyond words and often to the point of tears for the mighty village that has risen up and surrounded my Curly Girl these last 8 weeks. I quite literally do not know how I would have walked this road without them all. I breathe daily prayers of thanksgiving for the ways they have extended grace and helped us hope and held us safe.
And as I look at that precious child in Aleppo, blood and grime and tears marring his beautiful face…and as I remember the image of Aylan Kurdi’s body lying lifeless on a beach…I know this truth deep in my bones: The care that has been and is being extended to my CG is the same care that should be extended to every child.
But such is not the case. Children every bit as brave and intelligent and compassionate and creative as CG are lost and neglected and forgotten every day. Casualties of a world gone mad with war and greed and anger. They fall through the cracks in their communities like sand through a sieve and we never even know. It happens in Aleppo. It happens in Uganda. It happens in Louisville. Wherever you are, at this moment in your life, there is a child who has been forgotten, pushed to the side, overlooked by the interests of the very grown-ups who are supposed to be loving them into adulthood.
“We’ve got this…We’ve got her,” they said to me. And they do. And I will spend the rest of my life paying forward the grace of those words and countless other words and gestures just like them that have surrounded us this awful summer.
But y’all…it should be so for every child. Every. Single. One.
And it isn’t.
So we have work to do. Promises to our children to keep. Advocacy to engage in and awareness to raise. We have to do better by these precious ones. They’re looking to us to do just that.
And we cannot fail them.
Because if we do…if we fail them…then there isn’t much hope to be had for any of us.