I struggle greatly with the words to write. I get stuck on the opening and the ending. The middle I see clearly. It's almost like slow motion. I envision those last minutes. 7:17PM when the breathing stopped. Where it began is murky. Where it will end is confusing. But, I see the part where the story comes to a screeching halt. The pause button. February 26th. Not this year, but last year. The moment that one life will end and one life will be forever changed. I have gone over this moment in my head for a year. A year since a can of ice tea and a bag of skittles hit the ground with deafening silence in Sanford, Florida. A year since a grey hoodie went over the head of a young man trying to protect himself from the drizzling rain. A year since the death of the son that could have been the President's son, but is in fact the son of Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton. A year since this American son, Trayvon Martin told his brother Jahvaris that he loved him. One year. It has been that long since I struggled with the words to write.
When the words don't come out, we don't force them. We let our words come from our heart and whatever comes from our heart is what we were meant to say. On Sunday, I bought my unborn son his first hoodie. From the Gap. Gap Kids. My son is expected to enter this world on March 16th, but as far as we are concerned, he could come any day, so we have been doing a lot of shopping lately. I walked to the cash register with the hoodie in my hand, thinking about Trayvon with every step I took. I thought about the hoodie he wore on the night he died. Who bought him that hoodie? His father? His mother? I thought about how I would explain to my son that a hoodie is no longer just a hoodie. A hoodie is much more than something that protects you from the rain or keeps your head warm during the cold. I thought about the conversation I would have with my first child about a child I never knew. I would have to explain to him that Trayvon Martin's death changed my life and I didn't even know the young man. I walked with that hoodie in my hand, and as I got to the register, I couldn't help but think about all of the parents who no longer buy clothes for their children. I grieve.
I can't comprehend the words that can be written about the loss of a child. I haven't even met my son yet, and I couldn't imagine losing him before it is my date to rest my eyes for the last time. The mother of my child shutters as I read her these words on paper and goes off to the bed. I understand why. The human mind should not be exposed to these type of thoughts. I ate dinner with Trayvon's mother and father last night and as always, I was in awe of their strength, compassion and love. They were made no different than any of us, but somehow they have been able to carry this unbearable burden that seems impossible for any other person to bear. They carry on not just for themselves, but for all parents who were able to say "good morning" to their children as they awoke today. They know the feeling of an empty chair at the breakfast table. They know the feeling of homework that is no longer due. They know the feeling of birthday candles for an eighteenth birthday that were never blown out. They told me that they never want any other parent to have these feelings. They would rather carry these burdens alone, than see another family experience the year they have. That is what keeps them going. That is what gets them out of bed each day. However, today more than ever, they still need to be showered with love. As the bible says in Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Sybrina and Tracy, rest assured that the world mourns with you.
A year later, in their mourning, they still want to make sure the world understands just how much they loved their son, and how that love continues to translate to the love of all children. And it was evident, when we sat down for dinner and the most caring words came out of Sybrina's mouth when she said, "is the baby here yet?"
I no longer struggle with the words to write. In the memory of Trayvon, I wear my hoodie today. In the anticipation of the birth of my first child, I wear my hoodie today. I hope you will join me.
Michael Skolnik is the Editor-In-Chief of GlobalGrind.com and the political director to Russell Simmons. He is on the Board of Directors of The Trayvon Martin Foundation. Prior to this, Michael was an award-winning filmmaker. Follow him on twitter @MichaelSkolnik