Angela Denker: A Little Life After a School Shooting, A Mother's Prayer

This post was included in a collection we shared several weeks ago in response to the tragic shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX. We share it now as a stand alone piece in the hope that it will spark dialogue and reflection as our nation continues to wrestle with the epidemic of gun violence.



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.”


Angela Denker, author of Red State Christians: Understanding the Voters who elected Donald Trump (Fortress: August 2019), is a Lutheran Pastor and veteran journalist who has written for Sports Illustrated, The Washington Post, Christian Century, and Christianity Today. She has pastored congregations in Las Vegas, Chicago, Orange County (Calif.), the Twin Cities, and rural Minnesota.

Twitter | @angela_denkerFacebook |
@angeladenker1Blog |
http://agoodchristianwoman.blogspot.comWebsite |


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