Guided by a beating heart
I can't tell where the journey will end
But I know where to start."
It was an absurdly humid day in August 2010 when I was sipping wine with colleagues and swapping stories of foolish, youthful escapades. The wine tasted funny and as I scrolled through my Blackberry, I realized I had missed my period. I rushed to the drugstore and then I rushed home to pee on a stick and thus the idea of motherhood, the glimmer of Cameron began to take shape.
The same day I confirmed my current pregnancy (Part 2 will spend a bit more time on this), a young man named Vonderrit Meyers was shot and killed in front of my neighborhood corner store - about 1.5 blocks from my house. We hadn't been home at the time - Brian was traveling for work, so Cam and I ventured out to the county to enjoy dinner at my parents house. Our bellies were full and Cam was dozing off when we turned off the highway. I followed our standard route home, only to be blocked by police tape and flashing lights. I did a u-turn and headed for a back street as Cam perked up.
Mama - what is happening?! Is there an accident?
Intersection after intersection was closed. I stopped in the middle of the street and hailed a jogger.
Hi there. Sorry to bother - do you know what happen?
Yes ma'am. A young man was shot and killed tonight.
I rolled up the window and proceeded to snake through my neighborhood until I made it home, knots in my stomach.
Mama - what did he say? Mama. MAMA! AHHHHHHHH! WHAT DID THAT MAN TELL YOU?
MAMA, YOU TELL ME RIGHT NOW!
I couldn't say anything. Except that someone was hurt.
We arrived home and I promptly broke the important rule that "everyone sleeps in their own room". That night, I tucked Cameron in next to me and patted him to sleep before turning to Twitter to figure out what the hell had happened. A few states away, Brian would be watching a live stream of the shooting scene and unfolding demonstration.
I laid in the dark, scrolling through my news feed trying to make sense of everything.
Off-duty Police officer/Flora Security... a black teen (or two or three?) armed - (first with a sandwich, then a gun).... acting suspicious, wearing an ankle bracelet.... officer three blocks off Flora, why?
I couldn't make sense of any of it. I willed my husband home sooner than planned. I patted my son.I stared at his little cherub face. I patted my belly. I stared at the 5 pee sticks (4 with stripes and the digital one that literally says PREGNANT because I didn't trust the first batch). And I felt fear. Not immediate fear or healthy fear or even the fear I'd prepared to feel upon getting post-SCAD pregnant.
A deep, heart wrenching, stomach turning, hand wringing fear for my child(ren).
How will we raise them the be good? To treat everyone with love and kindness? To be eager to make friends especially with those who are different from them? How will we raise them to be cautious, to respect authority, to make healthy decisions? How do we share the whole world with them, even the parts that we know little about? How do we show them all the things they need to see? Is there even enough time? How do we protect them from hate and evil and violence? How to we teach them to be respectful and to stand up for others and for what they believe in?
I desperately quieted the thoughts in my head by focusing on Cameron's dreamy breathing and allowed thoughts of his sibling replace the unanswerable questions.
And I'll be alright
I'm gonna be alright
Yeah I got two hands, one beating heart
And I'll be alright
I'm gonna be alright" - Ingrid Michaelson