Tyre Nichols. Yet another name turned hashtag. Yet another atrocious murder at the hands of law enforcement. Yet another grieving mother who will never get to hold her child again.

As a Black mother, I could not bring myself to watch the video of Nichols’ beating. Neither could his own mother. Because while Black mothers carry the heavy burden of grief, Tyre Nichols’ mother carries the reality. 

Related: As a Black mom, I don’t want to fear for the life of my children anymore 

The reality that RowVaughn Wells will never get to hear her son’s voice again. The reality of knowing that he was already gone the moment she laid eyes on him. The reality that amongst his last words was her name—her name which she will never get to hear him call for again. 

“For a mother to know that their child was calling them in their need, and I wasn’t there for him. Do you know how I feel right now? Because I wasn’t there for my son,” she said in a statement. 

“I was telling someone that I had this really bad pain in my stomach earlier not knowing what had happened. But once I found out what happened, that was my son’s pain that I was feeling, and I didn’t even know. For me to find out that my son was calling my name and I was only feet away and did not even hear him, you have no clue how I feel right now. No clue.”  

When will it end? 

When will the list of names stop growing? When will mamas stop losing their babies to senseless acts of injustice? When will our nation stop forcing mothers—especially Black mothers—to carry the grief, the fear that these wrongdoings breed? 

Will it ever actually end?

Tyre Nichols is gone—and his mother is grieving in ways unimaginable.

The recently released body camera footage showed the harrowing moments of Tyre Nichols being beaten by five Memphis police officers after being pulled over for alleged reckless driving. He succumbed to his injuries a few days later. But the harshness of his final moments is felt all across the nation and in the hearts of mothers all around—especially Black mothers.

Because while mothers everywhere collectively grieve in times like these, Black mothers do carry the heavy burden of grief. Because how can we disengage? How can we not become crippled by fear, by the thought that it could have been (or could one day be) our own Black sons? 

And while we have spent years fighting deeply-rooted racism within an unjust system, while we have sadly experienced losing Black men at the hands of white ones, we now can’t even feel protected by our own.

Those five officers were Black men who undoubtedly have known, and perhaps even experienced first-hand, the injustices that we have lived in for far too long. 

Related: I’m the mom of black sons and I fear for their safety every day

So it’s a grief that has no name this time. It’s a grief that leaves Black mothers praying their babies make it home, while lingering in the uncertainty of if their prayers are even being heard. 

I can’t begin to imagine the weight of what it feels for a mother to know that her name is what brought her child solace in his final moments, in those moments where he possibly knew he wasn’t going to make it back home. Even while getting the life kicked and beaten from his body, he still mustered up enough breath to call out “Mom.”

It’s a mother’s name that holds that much weight. It’s a mother’s name that is looked to for saving. It’s a mother’s name that is called on when begging for mercy. It’s a mother’s name that, at times, even replaces the name of any higher power. 

No one can imagine what that does to a mother. 

It reminds me of George Floyd, who called for his mother while he lay suffocating under the weight of a police officer’s knee. But I don’t want to be reminded. I don’t want these scenarios to continue happening in a world where we are just trying to raise our babies. I don’t want to have to imagine worst-case-scenarios every time I send my Black son out into the world.

I want these tragedies to stop. I want our Black children to make it home. I want them to be the ones burying their parents, not the other way around.

Tyre Nichols should have made it home to his mother that night. Tyre Nichols should not have become a hashtag. Tyre Nichols should still be alive. Yet instead, Tyre Nichols is gone—and his mother is grieving in ways unimaginable.

The burden is too heavy to carry—and the pain too large to process right now.

No mother should ever have to experience hearing her child call out for her name as his life is being beaten from his very body. My heart aches in ways I can’t explain. 

You can donate to the memorial fund for Tyre Nichols organized by his mother, RowVaughn Wells.

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