A friend, and colleague, told me how he had the pleasure of being awakened by the US Marshal’s this morning. It was the full POUNDING on the door, though there is a perfectly fine working doorbell, production. There were two at the door, presumably with the warrant, accompanied by several armed officers. To use his words “It was made perfectly clear my fat ass wasn’t going nowhere.” Not exactly what anyone wants to wake up to bright and surly in the morning, Especially when that man being awakened is a Black man in his mid-30s during these times as is my friend.
Clearly, this encountered ended well enough. We spoke via instant message about it and I’m blogging the story. A simple case of mistaken identity. My friend is fine. He said he cracked a joke with one of the officers in the relief of. All’s good, right? I just had one question for him: how did his mother take it when he told her? I know he’s close to her, so I know the first he called was her. He tells me she’s okay, but she is more mad and upset about the incident than he was. And that is where the title of this post comes in.
I asked about her because as a mother of two Black sons, I knew. “I’m just damned glad the first time I meet your mother is not at your funeral.” as I explained to him. She’s his mother, and pre-COVID when we were all in the office, I was, and to some degree still am, Work Mom. She and I know of each other, but we have never met. We are around the same age and have similar mindsets. He’s semi-jokingly terrified at how we’ll gang up on him if we ever got together and he’s likely correct, but I digress.
As he relayed the story to me, I interjected my comments and jokes, but I also felt a bit of panic. My sons are only a few years older than him. I visualized my sons at the door, being thusly awakened at the crack of dawn. I know the deep breaths she took as her child relayed the story. I know how she tried to tell herself it’s okay, he’s okay, it’s alright, and I know how for a long while it did not help. And I know how her son, with the invincibility of youth and the adrenaline of relief of being able to now somewhat laugh about it, cannot understand her quiet panic as she listened.
For him, it’s just a story he gets to tell about how he survived it. And that’s the way it is.
I know for his mother it’s a story on how she could have lost her son. And that’s the way it is.
For me it’s a scratch at that itch we mothers in general, but I feel mothers of black sons in particular, don’t want to acknowledge that no matter how much of an adult they are, they don’t stop being our children and the fear of that call stays with us. Today is my eldest son’s birthday, like my friend, he’s older and has matured where I feel he’ll think first and avoid being a name to remember. But then I remember Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd… so I still worry.
And that’s the way it is.