He looks wearily from his pillow across the room at his desk, where two monitors and a Mac sit framed by a window that overlooks the side yard of his 3 bedroom, one-and-a-half bath cape.
He lays in bed with his dog for another 15 minutes, scratching her behind the ear. Finally, he lets out a heavy sigh before rolling over, sitting up, and lowering his feet to the floor.
His 11-year-old Pitbull watches sleepily, yawning and stretching across the center of the bed. He turns to give her one more pat on the head, and her tail thumps the mattress in warm appreciation. Then she lowers her head and closes her eyes. She’ll sleep another hour before heading downstairs to begin her day.
He heads down the staircase from the upstairs bedroom, emptying into the sun-splashed kitchen. It’s one of the things he likes most about the house, but he’s not sure why. He gives this some thought and concludes it’s the practicality of going from a room where sleep still clings to you to a room where the coffee pot awaits. That design makes perfect sense.
“That must be it,” he mutters to himself.
He gets the coffee pot going immediately. He opens the French doors from the kitchen to the cement patio overlooking the yard. The grass is still wet from the morning dew; he walks out, sits on a patio chair, and waits for the coffee to finish brewing.
He starts to rethink why he loves the idea of a staircase connecting the kitchen to the upstairs bedrooms, which has nothing to do with coffee and sleep. He thinks the design decision harkens back to simpler days when the kitchen was the hub of family activity. And even though that was long before his time, the idea of it sits well with him.
In another hour or so, he’ll be back upstairs at his computer, looking at emails and preparing for meetings.
He can’t wait for the day when sitting on the patio is not a prelude to work but rather an interlude to a day without plans or schedules.
Fame is potent nectar, and in America particularly, we crave fame more than any other country.
In America, millions believe that celebrity or notoriety can help one overcome a life that feels empty or seems meaningless. There are television shows that celebrate and glorify instant fame. Some social media platforms provide the false promise that all anyone needs to achieve fame is a webcam and an account.
And when attempts to capture fame crumble and the realization that fame by talent or artistry is unreachable, some Americans reach for the gun.
Because in America, a gun is always within reach, and with it, fame and notoriety.
Many people are angry today because a constitutional right that’s been in place for more than 50 years and widely supported by the vast majority of Americans was overturned by five conservative justices, three of which were appointed by the most corrupt president in U.S history.
The court’s decision does not align with what most Americans believe and want regarding bodily autonomy and healthcare for women.
So, what to do?
Well, for the 2022 midterms, we need to become single-issue voters and do whatever we can to get like-minded individuals to become single-issue voters, and then VOTE!
Vote against any candidate who supports the Supreme court’s decision to do away with a woman’s right to choose.
It’s important to remember the court’s decision does not make abortion illegal. Instead, the decision says the constitution no longer protects a woman’s right to an abortion. It’s now up to individual states to decide whether abortion is legal or illegal. A woman raped in Missouri might be criminally liable if she tries to terminate her pregnancy in that state. But if that same woman crosses the border into Illinois, her right to terminate her pregnancy is fully protected and legal.
The ruling to overturn Roe will disproportionally affect poor women. Keep your eyes peeled for organizations that will connect women who live in states where abortion is illegal to services in states where abortion is legal — and then support these organizations by donating money and volunteering. Help these organizations provide transportation and a safe place to stay for those who don’t have the means to secure resources on their own.
She can still feel the weight of her son’s head on her chest and remembers how she cupped the back of his head and ran her fingers through his dark curls.
She still feels the final squeeze around her rib cage. She remembers her son loosening his embrace, his arms slipping from around her, before letting go and walking through the front doors of his elementary school.
She can still see that carefree smile as he looked over his shoulder back towards her before disappearing forever.
She can’t bear the thought of waking up one day and not feeling the remnants of that final hug.
She has not slept through the night since the incident and cannot forgive herself for letting her boy walk through those doors.
She just wants to close her eyes, stop feeling, and slip into eternal blackness.
Knowing that other mothers suffered before her, and still more mothers will suffer after her, with no substantial changes to gun laws, hollows her out.
Her son was murdered by an 18-year-old boy with an AR-15. His right to purchase that gun was protected by an antiquated and misused 233-year-old amendment to the constitution and a gun-loving governor.
Her son’s right live and grow up was not protected.
Over the last several days she has listened to cold intellectual and academic debates about that amendment and what it means. It doesn’t mean anything to her. It’s all just empty words and platitudes. After all is said and done, her boy is dead.
She walks into her bathroom, places two framed pictures of her son on the sink and runs a hot bath. She takes off her clothes and sits on the tub’s edge, staring at his smiling face.
She remembers the day these pictures were taken.
In one, her son is wearing his Houston Astros baseball cap and clutching his glove to his chest. His first baseball game with his father. His smile bursts through the glass picture frame and she feels a sudden pang in her heart.
Her husband took the other photo and gave it to her last Mother’s Day in a frame with brightly painted flowers. In it, her son is seen squatting in the flower bed on the side of the house, joyously pointing at a snail that he discovered. The sights and sounds of that day are still fresh in her memory. She can still see the mud from the freshly watered garden seeping from the holes in his spiderman crocks — and she still hears all of the questions about this newly discovered creature.
“Mama, does he live in that shell…. is that his home?”
“What happens if he gets too big for his shell? – where does he go then?”
She remembers telling him that the shell protects the snail and keeps him safe from harm. And that memory triggers a flood of emotions. She can’t stop thinking how vulnerable and scared he must have been in those final minutes, and how no one was able to protect him from harm.
She opens the medicine cabinet and takes out a razor blade. She picks up the framed pictures and kisses each one, tears running down her cheeks. Then she turns the pictures away from the tub to face the wall at the back of the sink.
She shuts off the water, slides into the tub, and carefully cuts open the veins running from her wrist up to her forearm. She does this on each arm. Then she drops the razor in the tub and feels it slide along the side of her hip before resting underneath her left buttock.