Thin plastic Easter eggs crack underfoot when I cross the living room floor. My daughter wails as she hears them break into pieces. Just then, my toe strikes her tall Duplo tower, and it is a wreck on the ground. The carnage of her play is everywhere. She would cover her world with a scatter of plastic items, wooden blocks, the detritus of the building blocks of a wide-ranging imagination. She would do it from dawn to dusk if we allowed.
An Easter egg rolls away from my foot, under the furniture, even though it is September. My daughter is always game for an egg hunt. It is September Eleventh, actually, and it isn’t only “Never Forgets” and photos of mid-tower explosions filling my online newsfeed, but also refugees. The refugees are everywhere on my Facebook page, everywhere, and I am a complete wreck. That is okay with me, because it is the least I can do. Even though it is autumn, and the weather is turning colder, the flood of people crowding onto thin boats is not slowing, and the refugee crisis groups are making sure I understand this, and other people, celebrities and humanitarian groups, are visiting the Greek island of Lesbos, giving interviews and taking pictures, the most crushing of which is a woman with a wedding ring, covering her face because her husband is lost, drowned out on the sea while she floated in the cold, farther and farther from his voice calling out, until his voice disappeared, until safety came for her, for her alone.
I tell this story of the woman with the wedding ring and the husband without the life vest to a friend, and he asks, Can we talk about happier things? Several years ago, I told him the story of the movie I had just seen, with the little boy who hears his father’s voice on the answering machine, his father calling from the tower after it was struck, before it fell, calling to say, Are you there? I love you. Goodbye. And my friend asked, Why would you want to watch a movie about that?
My daughter is hiding Easter eggs. The picture of the woman covering her face reappears on my newsfeed, the woman whose husband gave his life jacket to another woman somewhere in the nighttime water between Turkey and Greece, and then grew too tired to keep afloat, and he was gone, gone. I am here, and the baby is on my husband’s chest on the sofa, and my preschooler is galloping around the room, catching plastic Easter eggs, throwing them back to her dad, laughing, and I can’t stop thinking of the woman, she is as good as here with me, in the armchair across the room. And I lean back and watch the wild game going on between me and the darkening night sky, and I think of the woman, and I am begging. I am begging God to give this to her.
Rebecca D. Martin’s essays appear in journals including The Curator and Makes You Mom, and are forthcoming in Relief Journal and Coffee and Crumbs. She holds an M.A. in English Lit from the University of Georgia, but now calls Central Virginia home, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She tells herself her feet won’t remain permanently wounded from stepping on Legos every night, but even so, her girls are worth it. Find her at www.rebarit.blogspot.com