LETTER OF THE DAY
This past Sunday, I stood in the midst of the crowd gathered in Sam Sharpe Square at the Municipal Tree Lighting Ceremony and watched my people come together, some holding hands, and prayed, declaring the very spot we were standing on, as holy grounds. I was heartened by this, but somehow, I felt a bit numb – and empty. Last year, not too far from Sam Sharpe Square, my only son was gunned down in MoBay. As a mother who was told she wouldn’t have been able to have kids, he proved to be my only miracle, and just like that, I lost him to some of the cowards now plaguing this parish, in full view of his countrymen. He was being robbed, I was told, but no one tried to help him when he resisted. And as I stood in Sam Sharpe Square on Sunday, I wondered: was there not one of these praying and passionate people around when he was fighting for his life?
I’ve seen it on the news many times before, but not once did I imagine that with so many faithful people around, that such a fate would befall my only son. I am not a bitter mother. I am merely concerned, or perhaps worried would be the more appropriate word, that majority of the faithful people in MoBay would rather pray for the life of one of their brethren, than to offer a helping hand. It seems that we have all become content in our faith that we have forgotten to extend simple, humane courtesies to people around us. We have faith in God, but no faith in our humanity. It seems that we have forgotten that faith without works is, literally, dead.
It’s almost Christmas again, and while many are preparing to spend time with their loved ones, there are many other Jamaicans just like me who won’t have that luxury. St. James has already surpassed its mark for murders around the same period last year. If I’m not mistaken, I believe we are already beyond the 320-mark. Beyond our government, what does that say about us? As crime continues to rage on down here, we are seeing that there isn’t much that can be done unless we commit wholeheartedly to changing things. I am happy that we are a praying people, but I wish we were more than that. Men in the days of Jesus were warriors. Have we outgrown our brave heritage?
There isn’t one day that goes by that I don’t question what would have happened if even one person stepped up to help my son. Maybe we would have been preparing to have a happy Christmas right now. But also, maybe some other mother would be suffering this heartache I now am that I wouldn’t wish on anyone else. I know dwelling on the past won’t bring him back, which is why I’ve chosen to focus on what we can do moving forward. I refuse to believe that praying is ALL we can do to help each other. We are all suffering, whether we know it or not, so is there not something we can do to help each other through these tumultuous times?
I am a firm believer in God, but I still am a firm believer in people – my people, from the Republic of Montego Bay! I wish I had what it took to start the revolution, but I’m all cried out. All I have left right now, ironically, are my prayers, and the words contained within this letter. In some ways, this is my letter to you, the people of the West. I know it is too much to be asking of you to risk your lives and the happiness of your families for the sake of a stranger, but I’m asking you to recognize that we are not so much strangers, but distant relatives. We bleed the same blood. And when my son died, I cried the same tears you sometimes do.
So, from a mother without the love of her son, if you’ll give me this one Christmas wish – remember your humanity, and love fearlessly, and I promise you that things will change. I didn’t find what I showed up in Sam Sharpe Square among the prayer warriors to find, but leaving there with hope that there are still good people among us was just enough for me.
A Bent But Not Broken Mother