Just a Thought – Happy 4th, Hijo

I do not watch horror movies. They give me nightmares.

It was only a year or two ago I was having dinner with my family and a guest, and the conversation turned to “Stranger Things.” My younger daughter is a huge fan, and the guest was someone who had worked with the Duffer brothers, the creators of the series. I was trying to explain why I don’t watch those kinds of shows.

My standard joke is that real life is scary enough. When I say that people laugh.

But this is a fantasy, the guest argued; there are no monsters coming to take your children.

No, I totally disagreed. There are monsters. I am a mother. Wynona Ryder’s performance is several notches below where I would be if one of my children disappeared.

Perhaps, I offered, we differ on the definition of monsters.

Last night, while a small crowd of high school fans of “Stranger Things” were gathered in my living room, waiting for the third season to drop at midnight, I was trying to write about this Independence Day.

Perhaps you too have expanded your definition of monsters.

For weeks now, I have been awakened in the dark hours, hearing a child crying. Perhaps it’s a dream, but it forces me awake – I am a mother, and I am hard-wired to listen for a child crying, and to do something to remedy the problem.

I know that there are children who have been taken from their families, I know they are hungry, and maybe sick, and very scared. I know they are breaking, and maybe even broken. To a terrified child, every day feels a thousand years long.

Every hour of every day, Hijo, I am thinking of you. Every hour of every day, I know you are hurting. I am praying, I am protesting, I am talking with others about what they are doing. Whatever I can do for you, Hijo, I want to get you back to your family.

I see the news photos of how miserable you are, sitting on concrete floors with plastic blankets, and in the darkest darkness, I thought of something.

I have never been in prison, but I have been through many struggles. When I  wonder why I have survived, why I have been able to recover, and I have come up with one thing – when I was a baby, I was loved.

Years ago, when another country on the other side of the world (Romania) decided they needed more people, they forced women to have children. Since these women could not care for their children, they gave them up to state orphanages. Many of these children never had a mami, to hold them, they were just put in a crib and fed once in while. While some survived, things did not go well for them.

But you, Hijo, you have a mami who loves you. You have a mami who walked with you, maybe hundreds of miles, because she did not want you to die in the chaos of the country you were in. You have a mami who loves you fiercely, and she will do everything she can do to make things better for you.

The men who wrote the Declaration of Independence, when they used the word ‘freedom’ they were thinking about things like property taxes. They were not thinking about children in chains, because our country had plenty of them back then as well.

Why some people think that only some people are people, I do not understand.

Some people behave like monsters, I don’t know why.

Whatever they were thinking when they wrote the Declaration of Independence, we have those words; Life, Liberty, Safety, Happiness – they are all there in the document. Those words are for you too, Hijo. We are going to get through this.

Happy 4th.

Judith Martin-Straw

Photo courtesy The Atlantic




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