On September 18, there were Mexico City mothers who put their children to bed and kissed them goodnight, weary and hoping they could finish up their tasks and get some sleep themselves. They were thinking about work, or bills, or some other worry that always seems to catch a mother’s attention and stay there, wrapping itself around and around her mind as she finishes the nightly chores.
They woke up the next morning after a good sleep, or not enough sleep, or so much sleep that they had to shake their kids awake and rush them into their school uniforms so they would get to school on time. Because if they were late, the school might turn them away, and THEN what would they do?
Some mothers walked their little ones to school in uniforms clean and pressed, in neat braids and big red ribbons. Others made a mad dash to the bus, little boys running behind with breakfast stains on their shirts, spikes of hair sticking up in the back the way it always did even after being treated with a handful of gel.
All of them left their children at school with that feeling you get when you’ve accomplished something so early in the morning. They may have turned away from the door with a thought we’ve all had: make sure they learn something today, teacher, because just getting them to the door was enough to wear me out.
Their children probably got a kiss as they turned away to run inside. Some mothers would have had to stop them with a quick hug and That Look that says, I’m still your mother, now give me a kiss and tell me you’ll be good.
Some of them clung to their mamas longer because they didn’t want them to leave yet. Maybe one or two cried a little bit because they were still getting used to a new school. For those mothers, there was a tiny twinge of guilt at the gentle push they gave them, because it was time for work, and their children would be fine, but oh, they hated to see them cry.
I keep thinking about those things because those are the things moms do, and I do them every day. Except my children came home to me on the afternoon of September 19, and many of theirs did not.
I may be able to imagine what that last morning was like because I am a mother. I may be able to understand that last rush before the drop off and the frustration of dealing with children who take ten minutes to put a pair of socks on, but I can’t fathom the grief of these mothers today. I can’t because, when I try, my mind shrinks away from the thought like it’s a lit match. It won’t even turn toward it. It seems to be just too much for one heart to bear.
And if the thought is too much for me, then the reality must be truly excruciating. But that’s the reality of many mothers, fathers, siblings, friends, families all over central Mexico today.
The media has shown us multitudes of volunteers, concerned citizens and neighbors who have come out to help dig through the rubble, to support the families who are holding vigil over the schools and offices and houses, waiting to at least just know. That has touched our hearts, and it’s a beautiful thing. But what we don’t see are the empty beds, chairs, homes. And they must be empty indeed.
Perhaps we can’t even imagine. But we can join up with a reputable organization and ask what they need. We can gather the items that at least can help to heal some physical bodies and give someone a place to lay their heads tonight. We can be part of an effort that offers even a little bit of hope that there’s life after this. We can offer our hands to those whose hands are achingly empty today.