If I have a son
I’ll teach him to be brave
‘Cause if I have a son
He’s never really safe . . .
Your skin, it glitters like gold
There’s love inside of your soul
But no matter what you say,
no matter what you do
This world will never be as friendly to you
I held space to lament today. Even though I didn’t want to.
With the news of Buffalo. . . Laguna Woods. . . more shootings than I can recall in just one weekend. . . the lives taken and the continual hatred. . . I held space to lament.
// lament //
/ noun /
a passionate expression of grief or sorrow
a song, piece of music, or poem expressing sorrow
/ verb /
I think my therapist would be proud. My friends likely would be, too. My relationship with sadness, grief, and lamenting tends to be extreme. My desire for optimism pushes the slightest bit of sadness so far down that it builds and builds to the other end of the extremist spectrum, where my neurodivergence and anxiety shut down for hours—if not days—as the mounds of grief catch up with me.
So today, I chose to lament.
My husband, daughter, and I are traveling from Arizona to Georgia to spend time with family. Today, we’re driving through the open roads of Missouri, with a clear blue sky above us. I waited until they were both occupied. She was invested in her iPad. He was catching up on a podcast, driving hands free with an earbud in.
I pulled out my phone and went to a post that I knew had the names and photos of the Black men and Black women who were shopping at the grocery store when their lives were violently stolen. I took slow breaths as I looked out the window with a clear view of the open sky. Fully aware that I wasn’t looking at Heaven, I somewhat pretended that I was. I felt both far and close to God at the same time. Both aware of His presence and compassion while breathing through rhythms of anger and pain.
I turned on Dee Wilson’s “Rose Petals,” and with every lyric and chord I carefully imagined the sadness as a layer in my bones—holding space for the sadness of those who carry a heavier burden than my own:
The same ground where his body lay
like rose petals on a stoney grave.
Why do we fear each other
from the lies of yesterday? I’ll never know. . .
But look at all these roses. . .
I’m asking you
to look at all these roses
with petals on the ground
It’s far too many for me
I saw buildings on the side of the road that had been neglected and ignored for what looked like decades. They were only miles away from houses with perfectly painted barns and custom playgrounds built just outside. I saw acres of land with beautiful harvests precisely placed next to abandoned properties with overgrown weeds and unkempt acreage.
I grieve because it all feels too possible. Just two years ago we were living 15 minutes away from Laguna Woods. And as a Black family the feeling of potentially (and sometimes even inevitably) losing our lives to terrorism, to racism—I grieve because it feels possible. Even so, that was not the focus of my lamenting today. Because although I may have moments of fear, I am still alive. My family is here. My friends are present. My day was beautiful. My trip was full of joy.
Some moments make me feel like I am the well-kept home next to the abandoned one simply because of the breath that is still in my lungs. Some days I feel like the soil being tended as the body of my brother lay lifeless next to me.
I feel my life is worth living. And I feel incapable of saving someone else’s. So today, I held space to lament. I breathed. I grieved. I sat in silence. . . I hope that holding space, even if only in the smallest of ways, is doing my part for those who cannot.
Have you ever intentionally taken time to grieve? What does that look like for you?
Wow the thought of taking intentional time to grieve seems so foreign. As I read this I thought about everything that’s happening now and after the height of the BLM movement…..I was working so hard that I never took a moment to grieve how all of it was impacting me.