Last night we were scheduled to have our monthly block club meeting. Though I had just seen our Senior Lead officer days earlier, I knew that there were a number of updates he planned to give us on some different things going down in our neighborhood right now (things that he did not feel at liberty to shout about from my driveway). I was hurrying to get kids fed and to have Aaron down in time to leave for the 6:30 meeting when the phone rang. It was our good friend who hosts our meetings, and she told me that our meeting was cancelled because the funeral had been held that day for one of the murdered gang members and the post-funeral gathering spot was a few doors down from the house where we meet. The Senior Lead had advised them that it would not be safe to have the squad car parked in front of their house and to have people visibly coming and going.
An hour earlier, my sister had called me to let me know that she also had talked with our Senior Lead earlier that day and she had asked him about the safety of our park right now. “It’s a known hangout for the Rolling 20’s,” he said, looking at her baby. “I wouldn’t go there if I were you.” The park is where Mercy goes with our good friend to play two mornings a week while I work from home. My sister usually has her older son go with them, and she was calling me to say that she did not want him at the park this week.
When it was time for bed, we tucked Mercy in, and I felt the nagging fears I had been struggling with all day. All week there has been so much outside noise at night, and our little girl has struggled to fall asleep in the midst of it. The other night I curled up in her bed with her while people yelled and screamed beneath her window, and I wondered, how does she ingest and interpret the things she is exposed to? I do my best to put a positive spin on as much of it as I can. The constant stream of sirens we often hear are the fire trucks that are “going to help the people”, and she gets happy and excited when she hears them. And the helicopters? They are all going “to the beach”, her favorite place.
But last night as we tucked her blankets around her, the sound of a circling helicopter filled our apartment. He had his searchlight on and he was low (translate, really really loud), and he circled about a block away for almost an hour. I assume that he was covering the area where the post-funeral gathering was happening. And for the first time ever, I was summoned back to Mercy’s room by fearful cries. By then Aaron was awake too and crying, so I picked him up first then made my way to Mercy’s bed. “Hoppercopper. Scared,” she said, and tears filled my eyes. “Where my daddy? I want my daddy. Scared.” I didn’t even try to talk about the beach. I walked out to the kitchen and told Doug to come and hold his little girl.