I have seen mothers go through this before.
She’s been hurt. The police get called. Child Protective Services gets involved.
She is fleeing abuse and staying in a shelter.
They say that she’s “combative,” “non-cooperative,” and “unstable.” Lots of phones are called. Lots of papers are shuffled, and decisions are made well before anyone appears before a judge.
The day comes, and a defiant mother shows up to court with her head held high, exhausted and mad as hell, but confident that no one is capable of taking her child from her arms.
And then, they do.
It is the single most tragic thing I have ever witnessed.
And this time, it knocked me off my center.
I watched, dumb, as she fell apart. I rode the waves of her grief, and I felt like I, too, was drowning in it.
How could they do this? To take her child away. To put him in an unfamiliar place, with people he barely knows.
Why can’t they just help her?
I spent the rest of the day and the majority of the next in a daze. I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. I dragged myself around, sullen, and aching. The deep pain that was still resounding in my body turned to anger, and I felt it brim behind my eyes, seeking someone to blame, before I surrendered it to tears.
I was confused. Why was the pain so different this time, why did it feel like it was seeping into my bones and changing me so profoundly?
It doesn’t belong to me, I thought,
before realizing that,
it actually belongs to all of us.
It is a violation of nature and a crime against humanity to forcibly remove a child from its mother.
Personally, I am at a very safe distance from a threat of this kind, but still, my body knows it like a haunting memory, and I see it all around me, crying out for attention right now, and getting it.
I see it in the faces of immigrant parents
who have been separated from their children.
Thank God we are seeing it.
I also see it in the scar on the face of the earth
where a forest has been clear cut.
I see it in the body of the deer, the dog, the skunk,
who was stuck by a car and left to rot on the pavement.
I see it everywhere, and when I feel into the enormity of our violation against nature, it brings me to my knees and close to despair.
After a few weeks of grieving, and what I feared was her giving up,
I saw this mother again with her head heal high and her game plan in motion.
I realized, with some relief, that Mothers don't give up.
And Nature doesn't either.