I wonder what your mother saw, cradling you in her arms in the middle of the night, your face softly lit up by the light of the moon coming through the window, the entire house asleep but you two. Rocking you quietly, singing, maybe a song her mother once sang to her. Looking into your eyes then, loving your tiny face, your tiny hands, too tired maybe from having a new baby to imagine how your life would be, but surely knowing deep in her heart that you’d make the world a little better, a little warmer, the same way you’d just now magically made her heart explode with love like she’d never felt before, made her cry tears of pure emotion simply because that feeling of love couldn’t be expressed in any other way, no words, no signs to explain how enormous this love, and there you are in her arms looking straight back at her, so tiny, so helpless. Yet you changed the entire world. Did she have any idea that night, back then, gazing at this tiny bundle of innocence, that one day you would do such a thing?
Did you have brothers and sisters? Did you love them? Oh, how they loved you. When you played in those lazy afternoons, summers outside basking in the sun, chasing each other, the smell of warm grass, the coolness of hiding places and the giggles so hard to repress when they got so close, so close, to finding you where you hid. The sheer excitement of hearing them calling your name to come play. The sticky, warm feeling in your palm, the security, the blind trust, when holding hands and walking together. The loyalty, helping each other, the rush of adrenalin, that surge of love bursting your heart, running to come to their aid, were they falling, were they being chased by the bigger kids, did they get stuck, but you came, you always came to help them, your heart racing as fast as your legs, knowing no love bigger than this.
And mother’s soothing touch, resting on your head, your shoulder, cradling your hand, the sound of her voice calming you, calling you in, calling for dinner, or waking you in the morning. The safest place in this world, mother’s eyes, mother’s hand. Did she know then? Did your brothers and sisters know, somehow, somewhere, a tiny speck of ice in their hearts when they saw you, a moment frozen in time, wondering, did they have any idea? Did they ever think you’d grow up to this?
Did you have a father somewhere? Was he ever there, a mountain of strength, a booming voice, giant hands coming down from above to secure your first steps in this world. Did he tell you about the wonders in this world, why the sky is blue, how they get the bricks to hold on to each other when building high, so high. Did he teach you about being a man, that strange world of loyalty and courage, of responsibilities and brotherhood. Did he make you feel loved? Did you silently tell yourself you wanted to grow up and be just like him, a hero in your eyes.
And what about friends? Did you have any? Did you know that special feeling of true friendship, the willingness to do anything, whatever it takes, to help each other? Did you ever lie awake in the night, planning an event to surprise your friend, imagining their face lighting up in pure joy, the excitement you’d feel, that bubbly feeling in your stomach seeing someone you love be overtaken with happiness.
Did you ever feel happiness?
And did you fall in love, finally grown up, entering that roaring world of the adults, the craziness, the responsibilities, and the work. Did you see that special someone, suddenly across from you, and did you feel your world tilt beneath you, pulling you down and into the whirlpool of love. How everything else suddenly didn’t matter, how only this one person could ever make you happy. Did you ever feel this?
Did you ever feel anything?
And where are they now? Your mother, your father, your brothers and sisters, your friends, your loved one … Did they ever know you’d come to this? And do they think today, if only we’d known, we could have done something, we could have changed something, if only we had known we could have stopped him. Is your mother crying today? Did you realize at any point you’d be breaking her heart? No matter her side in this, she lost you today. You’re gone. Only your deed is left behind.
Does she wonder, your mother, does she think: if I’d known this, I would have killed him that night. I would have closed those tiny eyes and never let him take another breath in this world. I wouldn’t have let him live, my baby, my love, if I had known he would do this. Did I know? Was there something in his eyes, those innocent eyes, something foretelling this would happen?
Something changed you along the way. Something must have broken your beautiful heart, made it grow so sad, so full of hatred. Did you know that hatred is nothing but unrequited love? Someone didn’t love you enough, or maybe you didn’t love yourself. Someone made you believe that love isn’t enough in this world, someone made you believe that hatred is true. Those forked tongues telling you that everything you once believed is a lie, telling you the hatred is true, making you believe those days of laughter and sunshine were false. What did they do to you to change you, to blind you to the beauty of our world, to make you believe you could make this world better by way of hate?
I wonder about your mother today. Is she here? Did she see you do this? Did she see you, eyes full of hatred, a heart so cold, and did she remember cradling you, her tiny baby, and did she wonder, her heart in a thousand pieces, how it ever came to this? Is she crying now, your mother, as everything is lost?
I know she is watching this, a blurry screen of tears, the TV repeating those videos from the scene. I know she is counting every bullet hole in that wind screen, wondering how many pierced your body, which one finally killed you. Your brothers and sisters, holding each other, crying, silently or sobbing with grief. Why? How? I never knew he could do this. I never imagined he could do this. How could he do this? Your friends, frozen in their step, staring at that screen revealing what happened. Remembering days of play, days of long conversations, rewinding memories to see if they can come to a point where maybe they knew, where maybe you revealed you could someday come to this. And they wonder, did we know? Could we have done something differently? And they think of your mother, your brothers and sisters, your father. Maybe they go over there, wringing their hands, shy eyes to the grief of the family, so overwhelming.
And you’re dead now. The forked tongues are rejoicing and the mothers are crying. So many lives lost to the false hatred of one man.
In those last moments, were there even one speck of regret or doubt? Did you know in your final second in this world that you were doing wrong? Did you think, in that last moment, the bullets piercing you, your heart slowing to a stop, did you think of the way your mother used to hold your hand, caress your cheek, did you remember the light in her eyes when she looked at you, all that love, that endless love of a mother. Did you miss her just then? Did you wish she was there to hold you, to soothe you, to tell you it’s alright, it’ll be alright, I’m here, I’m always here. Did you stop your hatred for a second, long enough, to wonder about all the mothers of the people in front of your truck? Did you realize, maybe in the last second, what you were doing, how you were killing mothers and children, fathers, brothers and sisters, friends and loved ones. Did you realize, even for a second, that there is no way hatred can ever create a better world for anyone, not you, not the forked tongues, not anyone.
And in that split-second of realizing this, did you wish you’d gone home that day, chosen another path. Did you wish you’d gone home to your mother, told her about the forked tongues, told her you’d met them, but never wanted to go there again. Did you wish you’d joined your brother instead, spent an hour or two talking, laughing, did you wish you’d gone to see your friends, mystified by the forked tongues, but knowing it would end in tears, turned your back on them, found a way, a different path, choosing love over hatred, choosing a quiet life of doing what you could to make the world better. Did you wish, your last breath leaving your body, that you’d chosen love instead?