One Mom's Letter to a Refugee

Dear mother refugee,

My sweaty hands clench the leather of my steering wheel as I listen to news of your escape. Children laugh from the rows of seats behind me, "Momma! Turn on the video!" But my mind races down the yellow line ahead, pressing us toward team practice, music lessons and back-to-school parties.

Meanwhile you run. Your feet bleed, your left hand outstretched, clutching the tiny fingers of your son; your right arm encircles your infant whose cry is too faint for crowds to detect. You look out, seeking asylum over wide bodies of snarling waters, through fields and tall cities.

Later I sit in my warm, safe home. I stare at silent buttons, searching for words to untangle the cords that bind you to pain, to war, to prejudice, and to fear. My blank screen stares white like the face of my neighbor who builds tall, tall fences, keeping you away. He carries a gun, leaving trails of ancient hatred and fear that dig child-sized grave trenches into my nation's soil, into my heart.

Meanwhile you sit, legs flattened over gravel, arms slanted back firm like steel beams. On top of you, your children sleep. You stare up to the sky, blank as my screen, and you search for answers, too. How can you flee? Where is your home? Who will break the chain-linked fence that surrounds you?

I cry. Tears for you, mother, and for the babies, the voices, the toes longing to touch safe ground. Tears for 3-year-olds washed ashore after boat trips, for families packed in camps, thrown crumbs of bed.

Meanwhile you run. Run to me with your pain and your suffering. Fly over seas, religions, headdresses, guns and bombs. Soar to me with your heart built like mine, under the same brilliant moon.

I am here, dear Mother Refugee, waiting beneath the torch of Lady Liberty. Please forgive me. When you reach me, I will not call you refugee any longer. I will not call you Syrian, Kurd, Muslim, Christian, Arab, terrorist, dark-skinned, poor or lost.

Instead I will kiss your feet, calling you sister, calling you mother, calling you friend.

One American mom