It was always one of my favorite Simon & Garfunkle songs. It makes me think of my mother, who loved their music.
Ten years ago yesterday, my mother passed away after a short, furious battle with cancer. The Friday before she died, she spoke of not being ready to give up the fight. She wanted to live. But the cancer ravaged her body and brain, giving her symptoms of psychosis and dementia. She was gone the following Wednesday. I got to see her before she passed. My husband and I made the five hour drive from St. Louis to Rockford, IL, in about three hours and forty-five minutes. I have a lead foot indeed, and I do think God spirited me along.
Grief is a tangible thing at times, something we hold in our hands and the lines in our faces.
That tenth anniversary was a milestone anniversary. So much has changed. I don’t know that Mom would recognize my life now. And the tenth anniversary of her death is marked by unprecedented chaos in my city. St. Louis didn’t really feel like home to me until last year. Last year, I realized that I have friends, a community, a church family, and a comfortability I can’t recreate elsewhere. It is home. My home is rocked by the death of Mike Brown, the violence of looters, the protesters begging to have their voices heard. It is rocked by police tear gassing crowds, a media firestorm, and children who cannot yet begin their school year because it is simply too dangerous.
St. Louis has so much more to offer than media pictures of militarized police throwing tear gas into crowds, pictures of fire-scorched businesses and Holocaust survivors taken into custody for caring. But that is all that is seen right now. There are calls for peace from the people of Ferguson. There are people coming in from out of state who taking advantage of our discord and causing more. I wish I could explain everything I know about St. Louis from what I learned while pursuing my criminology studies and the social-political-psychological constructs that allowed this to happen here. Giving those explanations though doesn’t excuse what happened and may diminish the passion of the message, which is simply, if we hurt each other, more hurt spreads. If we are good to each other, more good spreads.
I do feel that good will eventually come of this chaos, but for now, the wound is still open and bleeding.