I hold it together until I see my husband walk out of the car.
I am lying on the grass in our front yard and watching our daughter on her pink swing set. Watching her play in the sunshine, laughing and jumping, I think about Gianna Floyd, George Floyd’s young daughter. I am thinking about what has been taken from her. Her daddy will never again hold her hand, watch her play, see her graduate, or walk her down the aisle. Too many young Black girls are forced to grow up too soon. I am trying, in vain, to let my daughter be a child as long as possible. I am focused on keeping my own feelings in check.
Then my husband pulls up and walks out of the car.
Did they read the verdict? He asks.
Guilty on all counts, I tell him. He is visibly relieved and sadly, very surprised. Seeing his reaction, the feelings bubble up inside of me and tears fill my eyes.
We’ve been in love since we were 17. We’ve grown up together, became parents together, built a life. I cannot imagine our lives if he were cruelly ripped away from us. I think about how he drives several hours each day for work. I think about how every time he is a few minutes late I am worried. I think about how precious he is to me and how easy it would be for someone to treat him with a stunning level of cruelty and inhumanity. I think about all of the big and small ways America hurts Black men. I think about how America dehumanizes the people I love. I hug him and say I love you so much.
My daughter comes running for her Daddy. She wants a hug and a kiss too. She wants him to lift her up in the sky and spin her around. She likes to sit on his shoulders as Gianna Floyd sat on Stephen Jackson’s shoulders when she famously declared: My daddy changed the world.
Her Daddy is gone. It’s on all of us now, to change the world.
It is a relief that there will be accountability, but it isn’t justice. It won’t bring back George Floyd, or Breonna Taylor, or Duante Wright, or Adam Toledo. We are still desperate for change. I will still be afraid that my husband won’t come home one night. George Floyd wasn’t an idea, he was a person, with a family. Millions of American families are forced to live with fear, my family’s fear is only special to me because they are mine. It isn’t unique - it is systemic.
My husband is here with us in the sunshine on our front lawn. He wraps his arms around us and all is right in the world for a moment. My daughter kisses his face. I think about all of the ways America treats my family members as innately inferior and less deserving of basic human dignity than I am. I squeeze them tighter.
There is grief here. There is hope here. There is also still fear, turmoil and a need for comfort. It’s a good week for brisket, the ultimate Ashkenazi comfort food.
I’ll make it because my husband loves it. It’s way too much food, but I don’t care because it will make him feel special and cherished. He IS special and cherished. I’ll make it because it’s what my Mom made for me and the world somehow feels safer and warmer with the smell of a brisket in the oven. It makes me feel like we are safe, tucked away in our home for the moment, even if Breonna Taylor’s mother and Botham Jean’s mother would caution otherwise. I’ll make it because it can cook for hours while I work, chipping away at any piece of the wall I can, fighting for systemic change.
Still, when we light the Shabbat candles, I’ll be thinking about Gianna and George, and how there is no justice in a world where they cannot sit at the table together.
For the full brisket recipe, click here.