October 18, 2006
The boy won't sleep tonight; tossing and turning in his crib, screaming and crying for me, for his mother, for horses and dogs, for books and water. None of that is coming his way, of course, because it's late and it's dark and it's time for him to sleep. His music is playing quietly, but no matter how long I gently rub his back, he simply won't stop squirming, uncomfortable in his growing body; pained by the simple act of bones stretching and shifting to change him from a baby into a boy.
Standing there in the dark, growing increasingly frustrated and increasingly more in love, it made me think about the children born on the first night of your bombing campaign--babies whose first cries of life were echoed by the screams of those around them, terrified at the firestorm raining down from above.
Today those children are three and a half years old. They are walking now, talking too. They have favorite games and songs they love. They probably have new brothers and sisters now, still babies, but growing older. They have pictures they've drawn pinned to a wall, the crooked lines carefully sketched by their wavering hands. They have secrets they keep from their parents and things they share only with their friends. They were babies when the bombs began to fall, but they are not babies anymore. At three and a half they are people, autonomous and strong. And, at three and a half, your war is all they have ever known.
If their parents are good parents, they have tried to shield them as much as they can from the horror that has befallen their homeland. If their parents are good parents, they try and shelter them from the terror that lurks in the dark. If their parents are good parents, they tell them sweet lies every night, holding them tightly and whispering things will be all right, dear softly in their ears.
But their parents, even the best of them, can't hide them from the reality that your war has caused. Their parents, even the best, can't light their homes, can't clean their water. Their parents can't protect them from the evil that lurks around every corner now, from the mobs looking to kill, from the soldiers killing to "protect," from the bombs that spring from the streets below and the ones that fall from the skies above.
No Mr. Bush, their parents, even the good ones, can only hold them close, touch their hair lightly, and lie about hope.
PS. It's been an age, hasn't it?