Today I am thinking about another mom and my heart is heavy. I don’t know her or her story. I do know that, if all goes as planned, she will lose her son tonight.
I don’t know the facts of the situation, other than what I have read in this summary. I do know that our justice system provides us neither safety nor justice and I believe strongly that the continuation practice of executing prisoners takes away from us all as the above article states.
But it should also bring deep self-probing to us as a country, forcing us to ask ourselves agonizing questions: How can our system of justice be comfortable executing a man despite such substantive doubts as to his guilt? How can our country possibly justify taking an unarmed, captive human being, and killing that human being? Who are we as a people if we, sanctioned by the state, intentionally and with premeditation wrack a family with grief?
This is something I have been concerned about for ages…and will continue to try to find ways to address. But this post isn’t ultimately about whether or not we should have the death penalty or whether or not Troy Davis is guilty. (Please take those discussions elsewhere.)
It’s about a mother. Troy Davis’ mom. She is losing her son. My heart is with her.
Almost three years ago, another mother lost her son. I did know her, I knew her son Jonathan and a bit of her story–that she had lost her older son Stephen fifteen years before. At my friend/her son’s funeral she shared what had helped her most when Stephen died. She said one friend had come up to her and said that he was going to pray for her and her husband every Monday, that he would keep on praying until they asked him to stop. She said he kept that promise for many years, until he himself passed. Every once in a while they would receive a postcard or note with a message to the effect of “Today is Monday and I am praying for you.” She said it had been sustaining to know that someone was not forgetting, that someone was with them in their ongoing loss, that someone was praying on her behalf when she couldn’t do it herself.
That day, I told Jonathan’s mom that I would take Mondays and, since then, every Monday, I find myself thinking of his parents and, when I put AJ to bed, I pray “for Uncle Jonathan’s mommy and daddy because they miss him very much.” This has led to some amazing conversations about how much parents love their children and about missing people and even about death.
Then, a few months ago, another friend died–this one was killed in Libya while covering the impact of war on civilians. That night, I found myself thinking of his mom, about my own ongoing struggle with the impossible-ness of being a mother and loving and letting go. A few weeks later, on a Tuesday, I met Tim’s mom at his memorial in New York. We had a surprisingly intimate conversation in which I shared about Jonathan’s mother’s experience. I told her that his parents have my Monday, so she would have Tuesday. Now, on Tuesday, we pray for Tim’s mommy and daddy and this leads to conversations about New York and how much Addison missed me when I traveled there without him and how fighting can really hurt people and how much parents love their children and about missing people and about death
So, I guess it isn’t surprising that, today, as I read news accounts of Troy Davis’ scheduled death, I am thinking of his mother. She will probably never know this (Perhaps will feel it, somehow?), but from now on she has my Wednesdays. I wonder what kind of conversations this will spark.
Can I talk about the death penalty with a preschooler? I don’t know…but I do hope that, in sharing these prayers with my son he will grow to be more compassionate, to value other’s lives, to know deep in his bones how much he is loved, and to hold that love in the same sacred place that holds my prayers for these other mothers.