Pretty much every single one of us at Seeing Red has been going back and forth from grief and despair to just unadulterated rage for the last few weeks. And no, the executive order didn’t make shit better. And since this is a blog, we are doing our first blogathon where we each emote all the shit we’ve been feeling. And it has been somewhat cathartic to let out and read each of our the sweet ass rage take downs of the inhumane fuckwad bullshit arguments for child separations or family detentions that are supposed to pass for rational argument. But that is now what I am going to do here, because this is personal.
As much as I want to rage post a righteous take down of stupid dumbasses and their evolving lies/arguments that correlate perfectly with Fox/Limbaugh white supremacist propaganda, instead I am going to share from my broken heart what witnessing the horror of these child separations has meant to me. Because they have hit my broken heart like a knife.
You see I have a living daughter and two stepsons who I am so thankful for, and then I also have a son I buried 10 years ago. So I do know how devastating child separation/loss is to parents because I have had to give a child back. It is different. There is no separation more final than burying or cremating your own dead child. There is nothing more permanent than death. And my heart breaks for these parents because they grieve like I did. But they don’t know if there kid is dead or alive, healthy or hurting. They just had them ripped from their arms. That is how losing my son felt. Like death stole him. Like I was robbed. Whether it is death or ICE it is the same goddamn thing.
But for these parents it was ICE, still absolutely a grim reaper, but perhaps more sinister than death himself. And like me, they have no way to get their children back. And the saddest part is they were fleeing because they were trying to save their child(ren) from harm, torture and death. They were doing what every parent would do for their child if they could. They fled certain death.
And who wouldn’t try to save their child? When I counsel newly bereaved parents who inevitably blame themselves I tell them, if any of us were told, if any of us were given a choice, we would have climbed mountains, crossed seas, sacrificed our own lives to save our children. For most bereaved parents death comes unexpectedly like a thief in the night. We weren’t given the choice to fight or flee to save or children. We had no idea we could lose them.
For these parents, they did what we wish we could have done fought off death, risked ourselves, risked everything to save the lives of our children. But none of these parents could know that at the last moment, when they crossed the border they would lose them. Perhaps forever. And like us in the bereaved parent community, they never even got to say goodbye.
I watched the handmaid’s tale tonight. And I have a confession. I used to be jealous of adoption. That sounds fucked up right? It is. It is the kind of fucked up only bereaved parents can understand. You see, we always look for our children in other children. We hold out irrational fantasies that maybe, just maybe, the whole thing was some Matrix level con or some giant fuck up and our kids are still here. What this fantasy does is to let me hang on to some small hope that I might see my son again someday. Like in a lifetime movie. Switched at birth.
I have an older sister who was given up for adoption so I know these hopes and fears well, and it is a trap. You see, you could hope that your child had a good family and that they were loved, and cared for, and maybe one day you’d know who they would be. I so desperately wish I knew who my son, Myles, would be today. It is a yearning in my heart that will never cease. But it is a double edged sword. Because if he were here and taken from me I wouldn’t know what was happening to him.
Maybe he is crying?
Maybe he is missing me?
Maybe he believed I abandoned him?
Maybe the people who have him are not good people?
Maybe he is hurting or in pain?
Maybe he is being starved or abused?
Maybe he is dead anyway?
And so I am stupid to be jealous. Because at least I know my son died in perfect love and never experienced any hurt or abuse or heartache. He was stillborn at full term. I was separated from him. I lost him. But he never experienced losing me. And for that I am thankful. Imagine that? A bereaved mom thankful for a peaceful death.
You see I can’t say I am jealous no matter how much I might dream to stumble upon my healthy grown son someday. I am not. Because I could not bare to know he was hurting like I have seen these kids in detention hurt. The suffering these parents face is different than my own because they will always wonder and always worry every night whether their child is crying for them, whether their child is hurting. I don’t have to know the horror of wondering. It feels pretty fucked up to be thankful to know your dead child didn’t experience the abuse and horror of the over 2,000 children who have been separated from ICE in recent months, or the many children separated from immigrant parents before that.
So the last few weeks seeing and learning of all the needless suffering and parent and child trauma has been too much for me and everyone. For me, it has brought up a lot of grief I have a hard time expressing into words. I’ve had to go back to my old tricks, trying to disassociate because it is too raw to indulge the full horror of empathy I feel and know so deeply of the torture of child loss. At most moments I’ve had to step back lest the rage or the despair consume me. But there are times I believe every single one of us needs to lean in and feel this loss. This pain. We need to lay it all bare. No matter whether we know this type of horror or not, we all need to feel it. Really feel it. Because we can’t let this happen keep happening. WE NEED TO REUNITE THE FAMILIES.
What the US government and ICE is doing to these families is torture. They are the harbingers of death. Worse than death. Because they promise no peace. Just torture.
No one should inflict this suffering on parent or child ever. And any person who makes the excuse that this is justified in any way is a monster. There is no ambiguity.