Dear Ms. Cooper-Jones… I’m Sorry

Dear Ms. Cooper-Jones,

I ran yesterday. If we knew each other personally, you would know that isn’t unusual. In fact, I did some quick math and estimated that I’ve run about 2500 times in the past 10 years. Yesterday was different, though. Yesterday I ran 2.23 miles in honor of your son.

Since that horrific video erupted on Wednesday, I have become distinctly aware that my American experience is not everyone’s. It certainly wasn’t Ahmaud’s American experience. In all of my runs I have never felt threatened except maybe when a car got too close. How did we come to this, I wonder? Is it because people like me have lived in a white, suburban bubble of naivety and never taken the time to look beyond ourselves? Oh, I’ve had Black friends all my life and I am fortunate that my parents raised me to judge a person by their character, not their skin. But I never knew that a posse could still exist in my America. I never knew…

You should know that Ahmaud has had a profound impact on me these last few days. I believe your comments about his character, but what I saw in that video was raw courage. When threatened by a predator, Ahmaud moved forward instead of running away. We need more men of courage like your son in this world. I’m so sorry he is gone.

I’m also sorry you will celebrate May 8 without him from now on. We have something in common, you and I. Every February 13, I celebrate my daughter, Kylie’s birthday without her. She would be 18 now if cancer hadn’t taken her. For me, the loss of potential is the hardest thing to take. It physically hurts to know that Ahmaud and Kylie had something special to give this world and we are poorer because those contributions have been taken from us.

My family had the benefit of being by Kylie’s side at the end and she urged me to fight childhood cancer. That’s what I do with every fiber of my being. What Ahmaud would tell you to do now? He is bringing people together in a mighty way right now to fight this injustice. I would urge you to do whatever you can to keep his name alive, whether that means continuing this fight or something else. Working in Kylie’s memory is all that has kept me going these five years – while at times it is painful, it can also be cleansing.

The loss of a child is so unnatural and overwhelming. Please seek help and surround yourself with people who love you and loved your son. Cry whenever you need to and don’t feel guilty on the first day you don’t. You and I will never get over our losses, but we must learn how to move forward. If I can help with this new journey through grief in any way, you have but to ask.

Ms. Cooper-Jones, I want you to know that I wept for you and for Ahmaud as I ran. And I wept for this country that can’t seem to get it right. I truly hope Ahmaud is helping us turn a corner.

But your son… your son brought tears out of an old white man and got him to write a letter to you. That’s something, isn’t it! Your brave young man is still working hard.

I am so very sorry for your loss,

Mark Myers (Kylie’s Daddy)

 

SONY DSC

Life in a Fog

Last weekend, our little sliver of Georgia was covered in a blanket of snow. Fat flakes began falling in the morning and we soon had enough of an accumulation to enjoy a wet snowball fight. It never got deep enough for sledding or a snowman, and wasn’t really a driving hazard (although when you live in the south, even the threat of snow can be a driving hazard.)

It was dark when I woke up the next morning. The temperature was already beginning to climb and I knew our snow wouldn’t last. The strangest thing happened as the sun peeked through the trees in my yard – a morning fog hovered in the air and combined with the snow, it was a scene both eerie and breathtaking.

fog

Fog has an odd way of interacting with light. Some fog is dense enough to be illuminated by the light that passes through its gaps. Fog and mist droplets can alter the wave nature of light so that it is not simply reflected at the surface, it is scattered or diffracted in all directions and distorts our view of that which it covers. Fog itself can be beautiful.

When we drive in fog, we have to use caution with our lights. The temptation is the turn on our high beams and throw as much light as possible into the fog to break through it. But often, the light we hope will push through the fog only bounces back into our own eyes, leaving us blind.

I’ve been in what I can best describe as a fog. Today marks five years since I last held Kylie… last heard her voice, last told her I loved her. I stood in the cold as her empty shell left my house and watched as the exhalation of my breath made fog on that dark night.

My grief has ebbed and flowed as these things do. The first couple years were great burdens that weighed down my life. I learned many things in that time, mostly that we have very little control over this life. We are subject to the fancy of a God who directs things without our consent. And while I believe that he is working things together for good – it is not necessarily an earthly good. The good result may not be evident until I walk through the gates to the waiting arms of my girl.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a happy bloke. I experience joy, laughter, and love daily. I have much in my life that I do not deserve, more friends than I should have, and a family that I’ll never be worthy of. I am a blessed man. But often, the light of these wonderful blessings is altered, refracted, and (at times) repulsed by the fog in which I wander.

The fog is maddeningly inconsistent. I do not know in the morning if it will be dense or thin, or even appear at all. It rolls in suddenly and at times with no warning. There are moments when it is so thick I can’t see to the right or left and must shut down until it dissipates. Life in a fog can be suffocating.

But if choosing to be without this life in a fog meant I would have lost those 12 years with Kylie, I would choose the fog. I’d rather live in an unpredictable haze than have been without her. So I’ll not complain.

I will continue to search for light through the fog and revel in its warmth when it penetrates through. I’ll not curse the God with whom she now resides, for he was the same God that gave me her light for a time.

And oh, that day! That day when the fog will be lifted forever by the light of her smile. That, friends, will be a clear day.

20131123_Myers_024-2 copy