later that night

i held an atlas in my lap

ran my fingers across the

whole world

and whispered

where does it hurt?


it answered





~ Warsan Shire

*   *   *

I will not speak about the Paris attacks except to say that the shattered pieces of my heart go out to those affected. I can’t defend an opinion that’s cushioned by living loved ones and a safe home … I’m not qualified to propose a solution, to claim remedy for an illness I don’t and will never understand. I am devastated, afraid, and sorry in the most pitifully useless way. That’s all I know so that’s all I can say without feeling like a complete jerk.

Today I am thinking of the Syrian mothers, of the thousands of refugee women who fear for their children’s lives. Saying so makes me feel ignorant because what do I know about such fear? What do I know about trying to protect my child from cold and hunger, from bullets and hatred? My sympathy is merely convenient – the kind of easy these mothers see only in their sweetest, wildest dreams. I have no right to express pity, no matter the depth of its sincerity.

*   *   *

Today I am thinking of our first baby, who tiptoed into our lives via two pink lines on a chilly Saturday morning in March. She was loved instantly, appreciated and anticipated in all the right ways – a love that only deepened when news of her still heart destroyed everything we thought we knew about pain. Her due date was November 19th, 2011.

Today is her silent birthday.

Even now, four years and two incredible children later, I can’t write the words without tearing up. The knot in my chest hasn’t gotten any smaller and the “what ifs” are just as heavy as they were then. I yearn for her with the same intensity as before. It’s a hunger I fear I’ll never be able to satiate. Her sisters are a welcome distraction from her absence, but they are not and never have been her replacement.

*   *   *

Today I am thinking of you, moms of the world, of how you show up every day for your kids despite the war raging in and around you. I see you risking everything in order to save your son from a lifetime of unfathomable nightmares and I marvel at your selfless persistence. I see you privately mourning the loss of your daughter, a tiny soul gone too soon, and I offer my hand in support. I see you raising a good child in a world that lately feels like anything but and I stand in rapt ovation.

Nothing – nothing – rises from the ashes as beautifully as you.


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