Feeling Sick Is Part of It: A Response to Kids in Cages

I’m eating white cheddar Cheetos — the fancy kind with no preservatives, flavors or colors. The elitist cheese puffs were only $0.29 more than the regular, neon orange, radioactive kind, so I decided not to get cancer, just this once. I’m drinking diet ginger ale, too, because cheese dust and ginger pair well, and, also, everyone knows the word “diet” counteracts all calories consumed in that sitting. 

I’m in Honolulu right now, staying in my college kid’s apartment while she’s home earning money for the summer so she can come back here. I’m next to an azure pool with the sun shining, and my eyes squinting, and palms waving, and a pregnant cat patrolling the perimeter. All I can think about is the fact that those kittens will be born more free than children on the mainland who needed compassion and asylum and got cages instead.

Every Cheeto I eat tastes like It’s Not Fair, and every sip of soda like What Am I Doing, and Why Am I Here, and This Luxurious Life is Obscene in the Face of Such Great Suffering and Evil.

I keep thinking about whether I can convince Greg to eat dimsum two days in a row, and also how to do more than just contact my senators and keep posting on Facebook about kids on concrete clinging to chain link. Are any of the activists and amnesty organizations and attorneys making headway? How do I help? And will the dimsum restaurant have more mochi fried rice balls? 

My littlest kids splash in the water after visiting Pearl Harbor and studying Japanese concentration camps today, and, unlike when I was 11, they’re under no illusions that war and injustice and cruelty on massive scales can’t happen again; that they’re not happening right now in our country, in our churches, in our communities. They can’t pretend America is better than this. They already know it’s not. These are their foundational and formative experiences. Maybe they’ll fight harder and earlier than we did because they didn’t get to play make-believe. Maybe? Maybe they’ll stop splashing each other in the face and bickering about who had the last turn on the floating mattress. Maybe.

The wind is blowing in my face, making my eyes water, and I’m contemplating whether it’s worth the effort to repaint my badly chipped toenail polish. I feel sick, and it’s not the Cheetos. Turns out, I couldn’t stomach many of those, although I made a heroic effort. I’m doing what I can for our babies in prison — because they are our babies, every single one — even though I know I’m not making a dent in their boxes made of steel and stone.

And I suppose it’s OK that my thoughts are tangled and torn and intertwined, the superfluous holding hands with the significant. I suppose it’s OK that I can’t do a thing without thinking of our babies crying in cages. I suppose it’s OK to feel sick about the state of the world and the tiny ones suffering in it. OK, and right. Feeling sick is part of it. Action, too; of course action, as much as we can. But mourning, as well. To my stomach and my bones. Sitting under a clear sky, next to a pool. 

Sending love, dear friends,

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
11 comments
  1. […] hear this: if I can’t physically rescue baby humans from cages, I am going to rescue All the Baby […]

  2. The supreme court, thank God, has ordered the babies returned. It matters, Mama. The Facebook posts, the calls, the campaigning… it matters. We may be screaming into a void but somewhere, under all the ugliness, America lives on and she will rise again, to wipe away the slime and the shame and the regret and the horror. We will lift her up and move forward. We will. WE are America. And we ARE better. We will DO better.

    Much love, Friend.

  3. No words, just horror, shame, disgust, frustration, sorrow, astonishment, broken hearts and an inability to look away or focus on anything else. How can this be our country? How can anyone support these policies? How can we possibly respect these leaders? Why won’t they stop it when they can do so instantly, with the stroke of a pen? Why don’t they have any compassion? How can we live in a country that allows this to go on? What can we do besides call and donate money?

  4. I am currently surviving on Cheetos (the elitist kind when I can afford them) and mochi rice balls. And also wondering what to do. Crying, praying, looking to send some money. And hoping maybe it’s my turn for civil disobedience arrests. Maybe?

  5. It is in my mind all of the time. There are marches June 30. There is good fundraising afoot. But still the country we live in lets those babies cry alone. I don’t want to be a part of a country like this.

  6. If you disagree with what is happening, call the Justice Department at 202-353-1555 and tell Attorney General Jeff Session to keep families together and to end this attack on children and families

  7. Exactly.

  8. I’ve been pondering “what can I do?” all freaking day. How can I make a difference? Will my voice be heard? Who do I call that doesn’t hold my point of view? HOW CAN THIS BE HAPPENING? CAN’T ANYONE SEE THE RESEMBLANCE TO NAZI GERMANY? Yes, sick indeed.

  9. I highly recommend KIND Inc if you are looking for a charity to donate to. They provide resources and legal representation to unaccompanied minors in the US immigration system.

  10. Both/And, friend. Me too.

  11. Sickened, ashamed and heartbroken.

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