A mother remembers everything.
I remember where I was when I found out I was pregnant. The wave of emotions of such a life-altering thing. The fear of the ultimate unknown.
I remember the first time I laid eyes on his likeness. I heard his developing heart, beating faster than mine ever could. His little hand waving hello.
I remember the flutter. The moment he let me know he was there. The kicks a glimpse into the future happy feet.
And then he was born.
His curly hair. His long fingers and toes. His perfect pouty lips.
Motherhood is the most stressful job that you can plan for but never prepare for. You don’t know if you’ll be able to breastfeed. If your child will sleep through the night. If they will eat as they need to.
And then they look at you with knowing eyes. They smile the most heart melting toothless grin. They roll over. They sit up. They crawl. They stand. They walk. They call you mommy. Nothing sounds better to your ears.
Before you know it a year has gone by.
Then come the terrible twos. You think you know what’s coming — the torrent of tantrums and battles of being. Your patience is tried and tested like never before. Each day continues to be a revelation.
Time never moves as fast as it does as when you have children. They are babbling and toddling along on unsure feet one moment then asking for ketchup on their rice and running like Usain the next.
3 becomes 5. You drop them off at their first day of school. Silent tears you don’t want them to see drop because you know this a new chapter for you both.
5 becomes 7. Their interests move from Thomas the Train to something a little more grown-up. After-school isn’t about naps and cuddling up with mom, but soccer, basketball and hanging out with friends.
7 becomes 10. In a blink of an eye, and entire decade has gone by. The bumps and bruises. The schoolbooks and sleepless nights.
10 soon becomes 12. The age of changes, inside and out. The body is doing new things. There are many questions — most go unasked. It’s the year before that major milestone for any child.
At that age, Tamir Rice is dead.
All the memories that his mom Samaria accumulated in her emotional safety deposit box abruptly halted when her son’s life was taken. Shot. Killed. A child. Someone’s forever baby and baby forever.
There are studies that show that people (and police) view black children as older than they really are. Their height and weight are used against them in stores, on street corners and in parks. Our children stop being kids to others long before they stop being children to us.
As a mother with only three years under my belt (which feels like a lifetime), I can’t begin to imagine what happens to all the memories. What happens to his clothes and toys. What becomes of his school reports or works of art displayed on the fridge. What do we do with the broken heart and dreams of what he could’ve become?
There is no bond deeper than that between a mother and child. It cliche to say, and it’s not to discount the love fathers have for their children. The love that starts from when they are embryos inside of you.
No parent should worry about their child being shot dead over a toy. No child should be shot dead by simply being a child.
What if #TamirRice had that fake gun because he imagined himself as a police officer protecting his community, when he was murdered by them.
— Franklin Leonard (@franklinleonard) December 29, 2015
Tonight, I’ll watch my toddler sleep. I’ll watch his chest rise and wonder what he’s dreaming of. I’ll flip through the rolodex of memories already built. I’ll try not to think of the ticking clock of when he stops being my baby and is seen as a threat.
I’ll wish that toy guns weren’t made to look so real. I’ll wish that Tamir had been asked to put his weapon down instead of being shot, point-blank and without hesitation or questions. I’ll wish that we can get answers to this very important question:
Ohio is an open carry state, and the cops say they thought Rice was an adult, so what law, exactly, was he breaking?
— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) December 28, 2015
I’ll wish that his mom could have a peaceful night of slumber instead of living in a parent’s worse nightmare. I’ll wish that children — all of them — can play, laugh and grow.
It’s too late to wish those things for Tamir. Dead at age 12 and a mother’s memories to be haunted forever.