A Little Life: A Mother’s Prayer after a school shooting

 A Little Life

After a school shooting, a mother’s prayer

Photo Credit: Jae C. Hong / AP



He came from you to me.

Tiny, writhing, mouth open wide in a primal scream.


I remember the first time he blinked.

Eyes staring up into mine.


“I’m here.”

“I need you.”


Instinct merged with anxiety

Those first long hours


Then days

And chaotic, screaming nights


Exhaustion curled up together on the dark green couch

He fit next to me cozily, molded against my stomach like clay


Where he once had all he needed

I couldn’t put him back in


He got bigger



2 then 4 then 6 then 8

Big snow boots stomping off


Kindergarten and recess

And COVID lockdowns


He gave me morning hugs

He ate so many little bags of Goldfish crackers


I sent him back gingerly

He leapt onto the football field


He dashed around the playground

He laughed uproariously with his friends


He ate three pieces of pizza

The torn-up toes of his worn shoes flapped in the wind


The snow melted and the rain fell

He pulled up his hood and walked to school, unafraid


He’s only 21 inches taller

Than an AR-15, stood on its end


A little life can’t outlast

A little bullet


Propelled by the latest technology

And a country’s bloodlust


And our leaders’ cold calculations

Of little lobbyists and big donations


So many little bullets

Sprayed out over little lives


Little lives that are no more

No more backpacks or books


No more school drop offs or pickups

Just casings on the ground


All we have left

Of little lives


I wanted him to make 3-pointers

I wanted to go to his piano recital


I wanted to send him to college

And cry alone under the covers when he was gone


Proud. So proud.

I wanted to dance with him, poorly, on his wedding day.


To music I didn’t know.

And smile as he laughed again.


Mostly, though.

I wanted the little things.


End-of-school picnics.



Popsicles melting down his chin.

Letting me smooth petroleum jelly on his scrapes.


Hugging me.

With two arms.


Ma .. ma









I wanted so much for him

And so little


A childhood







Tennis shoes



Long legs


A little life

A little boy


Please, God

Let him grow old


Let him have

His little life




Poem inspired by John 10:10


“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Published originally at https://churchanew.org/blog/posts/uvalde-church-anew-writers-respond


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