After #Orlando: A Letter From Mother to Son

It’s 4 am and a crescent of light falls near your left temple, as a whir of chilled air fills the room. You are snuggled next to me–your slight, warm body curved round my own–and I hear the sweet sounds of your suckling; the rhythm, so delicate, nearly lulls me to sleep.

I know when you’re finished, you’ll sigh, turn your head to the side, and push your lower lip out in tender protest. I will carefully remove the pillows from beneath your head and lift you toward me as our breath becomes one. And then, stepping from bed, I’ll carry you silently to your crib while patting your back in time with the beat of my heart.

In those last moments before sleep, you will hold your arms to your chest and then, like honey from its dipper, peel them away in one languid movement, leaving them prone at your side.

This sweet image, of your wide-open arms, is what stays with me as I hear of our nation’s latest tragedy.

I think of them and imagine a night of dancing and fun cut short by a hailstorm of lead. I think of them and imagine innocents begging for life, folding themselves ever so small, attempting to disappear. I think of them and imagine terrorized souls hiding in bathrooms and a/c vents, cowering beneath tables, chairs, and bodies. I think of them and imagine receiving a text, as Mina Justice received from her son, Eddie:

Mommy I love you

In the club they shooting  

Trapp in the bathroom

Call police

Im gonna die


In these wee hours, I think of your wide-open arms, your innocence, your precious life and feel a familiar warmth on my cheeks–a warmth that solemnly whispers:

You can’t protect him, no matter how hard you try.

I wish I could tell you no harm will come to you, sweet boy. That as long as you choose love and light you will be saved from hatred and darkness. But none of us are afforded such certainty.

Not. One.

There will always be those who choose the strident siren of violence over the softer strum of dialogue. Who find justification for hostility and intolerance in the pages of sacred texts and the name of sacred beings. Who mistake fanaticism for faith and forget the human element of humanity. There will always be those whose very existence is in direct opposition to your own.

And in moments of chaos and grief, when it’s easier to hate, I beg you: please don’t. Choose love. Be stretched by it, dear one, and grow in it.

Every parent’s worst nightmare is losing a child. I know that in a way I didn’t before.

Whether lost through accident or malicious intent, outliving one’s children goes against the laws of nature and much higher laws of heart and soul. It is unnatural, unthinkable…

and simply

Today, 50 sets of parents are living that nightmare.

Today, 50 sets of parents are remembering their child’s sweet slumber.

Today, 50 sets of parents are remembering their child’s wide-open arms.

F. I. F. T. Y.

So, this evening, as I lay you in sleep’s warm embrace, I’ll pray for those affected by such senseless brutality and those with the power and privilege to stop it. And then I will pray for you, my sweet. For your life. For your heart. And your wide-open arms.



  One thought on “After #Orlando: A Letter From Mother to Son

  1. June 15, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    Sos good, Dani that you are “back.” So sorry your return has to be for this tragedy. Massimo is so beautiful. Cherish every moment!

    • August 2, 2016 at 8:09 am

      I’m so sorry, too, Stephen. I have thought of you often and do hope to catch up soon.

      With blessings…

      • August 2, 2016 at 9:03 am

        I will eagerly await further word from you, Dani, because I would very much enjoy catching up?

    June 15, 2016 at 2:15 pm


    That would tug at the heartstrings of any Mother–so proud of you! LYMOM

    • August 2, 2016 at 8:09 am

      Thanks, Mom.

  3. June 15, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    Well said, sweet Dani. The strange dance of motherhood, the clutching and the releasing, and always the prayer for grace.

    Welcome back. Our world is poorer when you are silent.

    • August 2, 2016 at 8:11 am

      You are too kind, Jane. I miss you, dear friend.

      Things have been jagged here.
      You’ll understand.
      I promise.
      You will.

      • August 8, 2016 at 7:22 pm

        Of course I understand. Who told you it would all be smooth and easy? I’m here.

  4. June 15, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    Beautiful, beautiful thoughts, and just…the horror of what happened is still so incomprehensible. On every level. And the horror of all that we don’t hear reported that happens every day.

    #LoveWins, but no, it can’t protect us.

    • August 2, 2016 at 8:14 am

      No, no one can, dear one.

      I have thought of your often and do hope to catch up on your world soon.
      I read your most recent and need to swing by your “house” to leave some words of love.

      Until then…
      know I am grateful for your heart.

      • August 2, 2016 at 3:39 pm

        My world is frustrating at the moment, but I have much to celebrate, so that’s awesome. SO glad you’re off living, being a mom, and realising so, SO many dreams ❤ We will catch up, my sweet. We will ❤

  5. Patrícia Bastos
    June 15, 2016 at 9:10 pm

    This is very moving!!! It translates all parents feelings at this sad moment!!

    • August 2, 2016 at 8:15 am

      Thank you, Paty. You are too sweet to drop by.

      Hoping to see you in December when we visit.

      Missing your sweet spirit…

  6. June 15, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    I so relate to your feelings, Dani. When my kids were tiny, I could barely stand to watch the news and it’s not much easier now that they’re older. I worry about how to protect them from the bad in the world but of course, I can’t. Not just because it’s impossible but because we can’t fully experience light without the darkness. Your message of embracing love is so pure and true. And it’s wonderful to see a picture of your beautiful boy! Much love to you. ❤

    • August 2, 2016 at 4:19 pm

      I’ve missed you, Karen. And you’re right: the worry, and the reasons for it, change over the years. I’m doing my very best to be Present in this space of ours and not wish away a single second. It’s already going too fast.

      My promise is to love him as fully and deeply as possible, while still loving myself. I don’t want to cease to exist because he now does, but it is a tight heart rope to walk. It truly is.

  7. Marilyn Secco
    June 15, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    Beautifully said, Dani. Your son is so lucky to have you for his mommy.❤️

    • August 2, 2016 at 4:20 pm

      Oh, Marilyn, that’s so sweet of you to say. I hope he feels the same one day.

      I. Hope.

  8. mary touza
    June 15, 2016 at 10:44 pm

    your beautiful words are comforting when nothing else makes sense.

    • August 2, 2016 at 4:23 pm

      What a lovely compliment, Mary. I think we’re all search for something, anything to ground us in such heartrending times. For me, it’s words, people, and connection. Always connection.

  9. Kris
    June 15, 2016 at 11:22 pm

    That was beautiful, Dani. Thank you for writing and sharing that. It’s absolutely heartbreaking that these kinds of things keep happening.

    • August 2, 2016 at 4:27 pm

      It makes me worry who we’re becoming as a People, Kris, but then there are slivers of hope that show…love prevails.

      It does.

  10. Danielle De Luca
    June 16, 2016 at 6:52 am

    Dear sister in law, i’m cried of this text, so much strong and deeply. Thanks for share with us this words, thanks a lot, i love you!!!! My mother said that this moment she lived with you with so much emotion and she said also that you have too much love in this time and she is very grateful for to be a grand mother of this child!!!! Kisses!!!!

    • August 2, 2016 at 4:33 pm

      Thank you so much, Dani. I love you very much and am truly grateful that M has you both in his life.

  11. June 16, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    This made me cry. So sweet.

    • August 2, 2016 at 4:34 pm

      Thank you so much.

  12. Melissa Herr
    June 17, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    that was very touching and beautiful. i know the pain first hand with losing my son 25 years ago and it never gets easier, you just go through the motions. thank you

    • August 2, 2016 at 4:38 pm

      I’m so sorry about your son, Melissa. Loss is a crazy thing. The tides of grief wax and wane, but they are always there. Always.

  13. June 19, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    OH dear friend, this is so beautiful. I have an intense battlefield of emotions reading your words- both this immeasurable joy picturing you with your miracle babe and the prayers answered and your love for him fills me with tears- good ones. And to read your words and see your writing once again makes me squeal with excitement! I do love this gift of yours so so much.

    And then grief strikes as I grieve for those parents- so deeply. Anger and sadness overcome me as I think of their lives forever broken and their children forever gone- because of one tormented soul.

    And fear rises with that ache of desperation in knowing what you shared so exquisitely is true. None of us can be protected or assured of anything. But you and I can do one thing- teach our children how to love. Oh, how I pray we can continue to do that- and they can learn how to walk as lights in a world that holds endless pockets of darkness that always lurks nearby.

    • August 2, 2016 at 8:00 pm

      May they love well, dear one.
      And may we do the same.

    • August 2, 2016 at 8:01 pm

      P.S. We must catch up. It’s been too long 😦

  14. WhitneyCarter
    June 22, 2016 at 11:05 am

    Reblogged this on Invisible Ink and commented:
    Beautifully expressed sentiment from one of my dearest friends, who recently welcomed her rainbow baby. #weareOrlando

    • August 2, 2016 at 8:04 pm


      Our conversations are missed.
      Much missed.

  15. July 17, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    So beautiful, Dani. I came to this late and my heart broke again for Orlando.

    • August 2, 2016 at 8:05 pm

      Thank you, Annie.
      So sweet of you.

      We’re in bits and pieces over here.
      What about over there??

  16. Trina Leschner
    July 30, 2016 at 2:03 am

    Again, I am in awe at your writing, everything I read touches me deeply, you are wonderful people and hope your doing well… Love,. Hugs,. And comfort!!!!!! Miss you all being here, next time I hope it’s for something very happy!!!!

    • August 2, 2016 at 8:20 pm

      Trina, thank you for your kind words; I’m touched.

      I wish we had been able to spend time under different circumstances, but mourning has a way of knitting souls; it truly does.

      Please don’t be a stranger and thank you again, sweet one.

      With heart & thanksgiving…

  17. October 7, 2016 at 9:02 am

    Dani, this is such a beautifully written piece. I am overjoyed to see you posting again. Hugs, Gracie K.

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