Life feels like it is moving at a snails pace and a breakneck speed all at once this November. At the beginning of November we were ready to celebrate so many anniversaries. The anniversary of Tess, Bowen and Gigi’s arrivals into our families. Then you add into the joy of all of that the memories of Tess’s AMAZING Make A Wish last year and all the holiday memories, and this should have been a time of joy.
It hasn’t been very joy-filled. We received this horrific letter written about our family. It was delivered to my childhood neighbor, who is a woman of color. I’m not going to post an image of the letter. It was shared over 3000 times on Facebook. Frankly, I don’t want to look at it anymore.
The point of this post is not to re-hash how the letter arrived to any of us, the details of why I chose to launch a social media grenade by posting it publicly to Facebook, what happened after, how the police responded, or, really, any of that. None of that matters now. That is all what it is.
If this blog is to be a journal for our family, then this absolutely requires inclusion. It is paramount for the kids to be able to look back, reflect on this event, and understand why I made the choices I did. The morning after my friend received the letter, after it went to the police, after we posted it to Facebook, I called all the kids into the kitchen. They sat around the breakfast bar looking at me, eleven faces of concern met mine. I explained that I was going to read a piece of mail that had been written to our family from someone we must absolutely have met in person, someone who knows us, and who is filled with anger.
I read every poison word out loud to them.
This person, whoever they are, wanted to be heard.
They were heard by eleven children that morning. Children whose family they had defamed, whom were repeatedly referred to as “ni**as.” They were heard.
My older kids, Ally, Cam, Brady and AJ, have all met this kind of hate before. They’ve heard it verbally hurled at them from the street, sports field, store, so many places, too many places. They nodded as I finished reading the letter. They finished packing their backpacks, and went to school. Jax and Juliana had been spared from it thus far, shrugged at each other and all agreed that I had warned them that this would happen someday. They were prepared for it, just waiting for it to come for them next. How sad is that?
Bowen and Tess were concerned this should somehow mean we couldn’t be a family anymore. Reassurances were given, off Tess went to school, determined to enjoy the normality of her day. Bowen stayed home, largely hoping that I would take him out to lunch, because that’s what we do when we’re sad around here, we eat. Request denied. He went to school as usual the next day. Ultimately, I was left alone with Cate and Gigi who understood very little.
The house was quiet as I dealt with the social media aftermath.
“You probably wrote this yourself.”
“You must need attention in a major way.”
This is what it feels like, I thought. This is what it feels like to break.
I’ve fought. I’ve fought every damn day of my adult life for these kids, since I was 23 years old, barely an adult. While other people were still enjoying their prolonged adolescence, I was rocking children who were fighting withdrawal. I fought through it. I fought to get them here from the hellhole they were placed in. I’ve walked through foreign countries and into embassies and consulates, begging for these children. I fought for them to live when their country of birth told me they were dying. I fought for them to get the education they deserve. I walk alongside their birth parents who are, sometimes, broken too. I fight so that they have a strong racial and ethnic identity. I fight, and I fight, and I fight, and in one angry moment, you broke me.
That’s what you wanted, right?
Piss on you. Piss on your stupid letter.
I hoped you were miserable. I wished alcoholism, or drug addiction, on you. I hoped, whoever you were, that you were as broken as you made me in that hate-filled moment when you penned your vile letter, and during the aftermath of the accusations about how this absolute piece of shit landed at my doorstep.
I dreamt of finding you. I dreamt of pulling you out of your cowardly shadow, saying your name so everyone could hear it. I dreamt of bringing you into the light so that everyone could see exactly who you are.
For the next few days, I hated all of you, letter writer. I called a lawyer to ask what exactly I could do to you if I ever found you. Would you go to jail? Could I send you there? Could I sue you? What if I found out who your employer was? Could I make sure you got fired? How much pain could I inflict on you? I wanted to know. I wanted you destroyed.
Cards came, communities rallied, but I still hated you. The kids needed me to put on a brave face. I did that. But, I moved through life in a fog. I felt marked. Everyone knew about it now, which was the goal, but it made me paranoid. How many other people felt the same way as you, letter writer? How many people smile to my face and think ‘race traitor’ when they walk away?
You stole my faith in any kind of goodness in this world.
That was so upsetting to me. I’ve always had the ability to see the good in people, even when no one else could. I was once someone who could see beyond the pain that caused someone to lash out and look for the person behind all of it. I prided myself on that. I prided myself on my humanity. That was gone. I wondered if it would ever come back. I was sure there was no good in you at all, or in the rest of the world.
It was about 48 hours ago that all of it must have hit Tess. I wondered when it would. She is wise beyond her years. She always has been. I don’t think she understood what any of the words in your letter meant, letter writer, but she feels the aftermath, and I can’t hide broken from a little girl who has lived more brokenness in her short life than just about anyone I know.
She can pick up on everything going around her in amazing ways. I’m not a crier, but she commented several times that it looked like I might need to become one.
“Sometimes you need a good cry, mom. It would be okay if you had one.”
“I’m fine, Tess.”
“If you say so.” She said that, because she knows me better than I know myself.
It was her who cried first this time, over a broken crayon, but not really. You know how devastating it is when you have those beautiful, fresh out of the package crayons, and you press one to the paper just a little too hard and it snaps under the pressure. She wept over the pieces. I tried to console her with promises of more new crayons in her future. This was only one. She had more, or we could get a new one, just the same color. She’d never know. We could put it right where the other had been. It would all be fine.
She wanted none of that.
“I don’t need to, mom. This one will be good.” She wiped her face. “The broken crayon still colors.”
Her picture, made with broken crayon, is beautiful. It might be different than what it could have been, but it’s still beautiful.
We are forever changed, letter writer, after what you did. We may even be broken, but our picture will be just as beautiful.
You didn’t win. You never will.
–FullPlateMom, who rises, who fights, who is beautifully broken.