by Sam Carwyn
I wrote his obituary years ago. Yesterday, I casually said to my mom that he’s not safe anywhere. I explained to her that my priority was for him to enjoy the time he has here on earth. I know that I can not control when his time will be over. Like 13 years of life could possibly be enough.
Later, the words he’s not safe anywhere started to replay over and over as I sat in my room alone. I realized I’d lost hope. I wrote his obituary, so if something happened unexpectedly, I could have time to grieve and not fret over details. I update it periodically to honor the most recent version of him. I want to share the incredible life he had before going to the other side.
I ignore the news of the latest Black boy, whose life was cut short by police disregard. I scroll past the posts with pictures, names, and the last words of those slain by police. I know the names so well, yet they are people I’ll never know. I try not to look at the new names because I can’t learn anymore. I can’t type another person’s name with some heartfelt message that makes it seem like it’ll ever be okay.
I plan my son’s funeral more than I think about his wedding. I struggle to think about him as an adult who gets to be a parent and makes me a granny. All I want at this moment is to hug him so tightly and lay next to him as he sleeps. Yet, he’s a teen and rarely wants more than a hug. So I honor his boundaries and bring him his dog to snuggle. I return to my room to listen to sad songs and try to cry it out.
Tomorrow, I will try to go back to my routine. I will find the normal in this cruel world where grief and anger are expected of us. I must move forward without thinking too long or talking too much about it. If I let myself think, talk, or feel the weight, I don’t think I can get up.
“Sam Carwyn (she/her/hers) outlines the reality of being a Black mother in America. She was raised by two Black parents that grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, barely post-segregation. They talked openly about race and the reality that not all communities are safe. She has been raising a Black son for more than fifteen years and has wanted to protect him since he was born. Now that he’s grown to nearly 6’3, she knows she can’t protect him as the country has grown less safe as he’s gotten older. Reproductive justice is realized when we can parent in safe and sustainable communities. We can only control what happens in our homes, but we are forced to send our children into a community that is not safe, which is the lowest bar we can set.”
Sam Carwyn (she/her) is a 30+ yr old Black cis-woman born in the Bronx and raised in the midwest. Sam believes sharing our narratives has the power to promote authenticity, dispel myths, and reject shame. She has embodied this by producing art focused on health disparities, sharing her story about healing after a sexual assault, being an out bisexual woman, acknowledging living with invisible disabilities, and testifying on taboo topics needing policy reform. Grounded in her faith, she works to advance justice and equity. She strives to create a legacy that will make her son, Gabriel, and bonus kid, Kayla, proud.