I have always loved the stories of courage related to the American Revolution; the men gathering beneath the Liberty Tree, the mustering of men and boys on the common in the misty dawn of April 19th, the late night gallop through the countryside of Dawes and Prescott and Revere.
Never once, until now, have I wondered how the mothers and fathers of those brave revolutionaries might feel. I never stopped to think about those parents, left home by the fire, as their sons took up arms against tyranny.
After last weekend, though, I can well imagine the heart stopping anxiety of those who waited behind while history was being made. Yikes.
Last weekend, my three children were arrested on Brooklyn Bridge while participating in a march designed to focus national attention on the corruption which has taken hold of our economic and political systems.
Let me repeat that. My three tiny, innocent babies, my sweet gentle little children were zip cuffed, hauled onto buses and placed in jail cells for hours. Behind bars.
With the police guarding them.
In New York City!
Paul and I sat awake until 4 AM waiting for word that the three of them were free and unharmed. We didn’t know where they were, we didn’t know if they were together, we didn’t know if they had been fed, or were being sheltered on this cold night.
On an intellectual level, I knew that my three were in the company of more than 700 compatriots. I knew, from video and on line accounts, that the police had been largely supportive and uniformly professional. I knew that the zipties would not be harmful.
But on an emotional level, I was overwhelmed by a sense of panic and helplessness. I watched videos after video on line of the events on the bridge, and sorted through hundreds of photo images of the afternoon. You can imagine my shock/horror/thrill when I came across a photo of an officer, standing with zipties in his hands, and recognized my son Matt sitting on the pavement behind him. When I recognized my boy, at about 1AM, my heart gave a jolt. When I looked closely and saw that his hands were held behind his back, it almost jumped right out of my body. I was ready to jump in the car and dash off to New York. If I had known where they were being held, I might have done just that.
Luckily for us, we didn’t find out exactly what was happening until it was pretty much over. It was too late to rush off to rescue them. They were freed, they were fed, they were excited by the whole experience.
I am so proud of them for joining in this movement. I believe, with my whole heart, that idealism is a key to the future. I believe that the passion of such activist events is what truly pushes society toward evolution and progress. I am so delighted to have my cynical sons finally willing to engage in the political world.
But I find myself, three days after the arrest on the bridge, struggling to lower my adrenaline level enough to sleep. I am finding that every night, when I close my eyes, I am faced with a picture of my children huddled in a cold dark jail cell with their hands held behind their backs. Even when my head tells me that my 6 foot sons were at little risk from middle aged paunchy cops, my heart and mind keep showing me the faces of those boys, big eyed, gold haired, grinning those innocent grins. Even when my eyes show me the evidence of my beautiful daughter leaning toward the camera to yell her slogan and show her strength, my heart and mind keep showing pictures of my pale and tiny girl being threatened by thugs in the streets of the world’s most frightening city.
The intensity of the mixed emotions has me dry mouthed, sleepless and slightly dizzy.
I am so proud of them. I am hopeful that they will effect real change somehow. I am terrified that they will be in the front lines at the inevitable moment when those with power and arms decide that they have had enough of threats, and decide to strike back in earnest.
I am absolutely terrified.