Dear Maria: Immigration, Tragedy, & Your Baby

Erma Pittsy

Dear María,

Seven years ago in 2012, a man I refuse to name here stormed into an elementary school in Connecticut and slaughtered twenty-six people. Twenty of them were children between the ages of six and seven. As I listened to the media erupt into a firestorm of controversy surrounding the relevance or irrelevance around the second amendment, I watched my six and nine year olds happily decorating the family Christmas tree. Tears streamed down my face and I didn’t know how to sit with the rage and the grief and the powerlessness that I felt in that moment. I did the only thing I knew to do, I picked up my computer and I started writing. I wrote a heartfelt letter to their parents. I apologized that the faces of their children were being plastered across the news to further any argument of any side of any political debate. Ever. I promised them that I would never reduce the two pink lines they once rejoiced over, the heartbeat they teared up at as they heard it for the first time, or the sweet chubby hand gripped tightly around their pinkies to legislative fodder to prove a point. 

Seven hours ago I agreed to write a piece talking about the atrocities happening at the border, the trauma being inflicted  on children and families seeking asylum in America and what people like myself paralyzed by overwhelming anguish are doing to help channel those feelings. Again I found myself watching my family, this time my husband and our two year old son  playing cars on the floor. Tears streamed down my face as I thought of your own family whose story I had only read about moments before, and that they had perished in the Rio Grande. Once again I found myself unable to sit with the emotions that I felt. Those all too familiar feelings of helplessness, anger and sorrow washed over me. I’m not qualified to speak about what I’m doing with the devastation that I feel, because in reality I simply don’t know what to do with it. 

I am so terribly sorry about your husband and your little girl. I promise to never reduce the two pink lines you and your husband once rejoiced over, the heartbeat you teared up at as you both heard it for the first time, or the sweet chubby hand gripped tightly around both of your pinkies to legislative fodder to prove a point. 

I’m sorry your family’s photo is being shared countless times across the internet to further any side of any political debate. My heart aches knowing that the moment your world was literally ripped apart now lives on immortally in digital website coding. And just like I did for those parents of the children of Sandy Hook, I promise not to let your precious family’s memories be reduced to the ashes of political rhetoric. I cannot speak for my country or even for Candor readers, but I swear to you that I myself as a human, Maria I promise that I am going to do better. And I’m not alone.

Take this campaign. It was started by my Sister in Law, and the goal is to get much needed hygiene supplies into the hands of the families at the border so desperately in need of them:

 

I’m going to donate to her, because like me, she was feeling helpless and angry at the situation and desperate to fight her feeling of paralysis, and I know that her heart lives in this work. She told me that her first thought was to help immigrants in US detention centers but unfortunately she found out that help and donations are being turned away and left on sidewalks outside the centers. Undeterred she went on to say that she decided to start a donation drive for items desperately needed by migrants in shelters in Tijuana. She’s working with Border Angels, an all volunteer, non profit organization in San Diego where she lives that delivers donations directly to the shelters in Tijuana. Their "Caravan of Love" comprised of volunteer drivers delivers donations every second and fourth Saturday of the month and their hope is to have enough donations purchased using funds raised here to contribute for delivery on July 27th. 

I intended to write this to reassure both you and myself that things are going to get better, that we are going to march and we are going to email and we are going to call, until they do improve. There were going to be links and resources, movements people could join and letters that people could compose, but those words just wouldn’t come. And that just isn’t where I could in any good conscience begin this message. I simply first had to say, I’m sorry.  

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