The ghosts are back. Two brothers and a sister, coming as toddlers. I’m not happy to see them, and they’ve never seen me happy, but that hasn’t stopped their visits. They enter my room with smiles on their faces, and their smiles turn to frowns as they notice my tears. My crying scares them, and so do my arms that reach and clutch for the ghosts, pulling them close to my chest, but I can’t help myself, because I’m afraid, too. You would think that we would all get over this fear, this sadness and confusion, or that the visits would decrease. Instead, they come closer and closer together, and all that’s changed is the additional element of expectation.
Now, when I see the videos, or read the articles of black boys, girls, men and women being shot, as I start to curl up and cry, I know that it won’t be long before the ghosts of my children will be in my room with me.
It’s bizarre, seeing my children and not knowing if they’re ghosts because they’ll die, killed for their skin, or if they can’t yet live because they haven’t yet been born.
“I’m sorry,” I tell them. “I’m so sorry, babies. Please, just stay with me.” I pull my ghost children tight against my body. I can’t let go of them, don’t want to take my eyes from them, because I know what will happen the second I blink. I’ll blink, and they’ll be out of my arms, older, and dead on the ground. I can see my dead children. I can see my children, dead. They’re dead, and bleeding, and sirens that do not belong to ambulances will be blaring in the background. I take the dead ghosts back into my arms, and I rock and cry into their heads. I rock and cry and curse myself for bringing them into the world to suffer and be killed.
“I’m sorry,” I sob over their bodies, thinking that if I could pull them back inside of my body to prevent their pain, I would. As I press them into me now, I can feel them being hurt later. I can feel myself losing them. An invisible force sits itself on my chest, suffocating me before slicing into my body and trying to rip my insides away. I choke against the feeling, struggling to hold onto the ghosts. It’s bizarre, simultaneously having and not having my children, in all senses, and still wanting desperately to protect them. I want to undo my mistake, whatever I have done to put them into harm’s way, before realizing that I can’t. You can’t take back what hasn’t happened.
I can feel the ghosts inside me now. Unborn, not yet conceived, and the love I feel for them is stronger than anything I have ever felt. I know that to have them solid before me, not as ghosts, but as living and breathing people, would make me happier than anything else in the world ever will. I can imagine myself raising them, nurturing them, guiding their growth. I want to tell them that I’ll protect them, and keep them safe forever, but I know that I won’t be able to. It’s bizarre to think, to realize, that more people will be ready to respond to what they perceive as threats to their money, drugs, and religion, than to acknowledge their complicity in the perpetual threat to my children’s lives. Every time they leave my sight, I’ll be worried for them. I’ll never be able to trust that the steps they take will be on safe ground, when lives can somehow justifiably be taken for sandwiches and cigarettes, or for nothing at all.
I don’t want to spend the rest of my life fearing for the people I love. No one deserves that. I want to be able to trust that the world is balanced, and that each of my children’s actions will have an equal and opposite reaction, but maybe what laws are to physics are mere suggestions to people. Does everyone deserve justice?
No one deserves anything: neither happiness nor sorrow; comfort nor discomfort; pleasure nor pain. We only deserve life and death, and the opportunity to make something of our lives before the death comes. Perhaps it would be selfish of me not to give my children any chances at life. Perhaps it’s better to live, and risk having your life stolen, than not to live at all. Perhaps these interactions I have now, with the ghosts and the news, are my preparation for constant fear. One way or another, ghost or human, I’ll have my children. I want their futures to be as bright as I know they themselves should be. I’m just terribly afraid of having the world cast shadows on their futures to match the melanin in their skin. I’m terribly afraid of having them taken. I don’t know if it’s better to have them and lose them, or to be haunted by their ghosts. No pure happiness or comfort lies in either direction, but it’s hard to judge which side tips the scale further.
No decisions need to be made now, though. I have time, and I’ll have other opportunities to think about this—I just need to wait for the next news segment.