That day, I was feeling really happy. Until I got a call from my son, now in college, that he had been robbed on his way to school. The words that shook me to my core, however, were, “They put a gun on me.” Yes, he is alive. Yes, I am grateful. Yes, it could’ve been worse. But he was never supposed to even come close to this.
This morning I woke up with every intention of publishing some work that I’ve wanted to share for a bit on a few trips I’ve taken. It’s been a bit since I’ve been able to do it for so many reasons, but mainly because in the travel break I have given myself this winter, I have also committed to being present for my family in more ways than I am able to when I am juggling travel, projects, and deadlines. I have been on a vacation of sorts, enjoying the simple things that I am often either too busy or not here to enjoy.
Sometimes that means not doing anything more than some light social media. This morning I was going to get back into it but instead spent it waiting for my son as he tried to identify the criminals who assaulted him last week.
That day, I was feeling really happy. Until I got a call from my son, now in college, that he had been robbed on his way to school. The words that shook me to my core however were, “They put a gun on me.” Not pointed a gun at him, but placed the opening of the barrel and pressured it up against his body so that my son felt it. My son is tall at 6’2″. He’s not aggressive, but is strong and was easily able to push past the two boys when they initially approached him. They were able to push him into an alleyway and my son resisted…until he felt the gun.
They took his phone and beat him up enough where he had a scratch on his face and neck, and his face felt sore for a while after. He got the help of the police for his school and they took care of my son and even brought him back home to me. My son was full of adrenaline that night, laughing off moments of his attack and talking about his positive experience with the police. But he now he just wants to forget it. He hates that he has to talk about it still as police narrow down suspects (he wasn’t the only victim that night) and he says it fills his mind when he isn’t distracted and is alone.
I am still trying to find my footing. Emotionally, I was a mess and distraught, though so many kept telling me that I should be grateful he was OK in the end. And yes, he is alive and yes, I am grateful and yes, I know he was one of the lucky ones and not another casualty of gun violence. Yes, I am grateful. It could’ve been worse. I get it. But he was never supposed to even come close to this. The sensation of a gun on his body – the body I have nurtured and watched grow for 18 years – isn’t supposed to be a familiar one to him.
Yes, he is alive. Yes, I am grateful. Yes, it could’ve been worse. But I am still upset for him. And angry. And scared. Because it was too close to a nightmare that no one should ever have to live through. And so, this thing that I’ve been doing where I take some time to focus more on my family and be more present, well, it suddenly didn’t feel like it was enough. And I hug my son longer and harder and find myself tearing up over the fact that there’s so little I can protect him from.
He’s since gone out with friends, and gone to work and school. He has laughed and though I haven’t seen him cry, I have seen him a bit more nervous. He doesn’t want to walk that path again at night and I get really nervous if he doesn’t come home when I am expecting him to.
We both are trying to work through this. It’s a bit traumatic for us. A jerk to our reality, a slap in the face of all we take for granted, a moment where our sense of security was slipped out from under us.
When I found out, my husband wasn’t home yet. During the ordeal, I shared my emotions – from shock to rage to sadness – on Facebook. It was the easiest way to get the word out to the people who care about my son and me. Family immediately started contacting us. Friends started reaching out. When verbalizing what was happening failed me, I put it in a status and then went back to focusing on what was happening. Some people found how I dealt with it odd. Others reminded me again and again that at least he was OK. And a few stated that material things can be easily replaced. My mind kept agreeing that yes, he was OK, but my heart felt broken for my son.
Life goes on. We have so much to celebrate, so much thanks to give, and so much more to reflect on. Though we know where we stand in our role as mothers raising independent, adventurous, curious, explorers of the world, nothing ever prepares us for things like these; there is no defensive shield against the angst in our hearts, the fear in our soul that follows each time we smile, watch them leave, and wave goodbye.
I am reminded of this quote: “Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ” -Elizabeth Stone
I still cry over it and worry and wish that of all the gifts I have given my children, protecting them from such ugliness in the world was one of them. I don’t need to be reminded that I should be grateful, because I am. But I am feeling a lot of other emotions as well that might take a little bit to get over. And that’s OK too.
Carol Cain was born in Brooklyn, NY to a Dominican-Puerto Rican family. She spent her childhood between NYC and NJ and her adolescence living and studying in the Dominican Republic. After a short period time spent deciding whether she should become a fashion designer in Italy or or an artist in NYC, Carol chose to return to her former home of The Big Apple where she pursued a career in public relations. She did make it onto the stage, having performed a few times in community theaters throughout NYC and singing at Amateur Night at The Apollo Theater, where she was a finalist. After a few years, a marriage and kids, left her career in public relations to better enjoy life with her husband and three boys. In the process, she managed to incorporate her love for travel into the mix and now lives to share her adventures with others.