Last week after an event that came up out of our control, I told my daughter about what happened to our family. To her Nonna. To us before she was born. I told her over lunch at her favorite spot, although that was only coincidence as I didn’t walk in there thinking we’d be having “the talk”.
I didn’t use the right words, I almost broke down a few times and I wanted to throw up for the entire 3 to 5 minutes when I tried to explain this very long and complicated story without crushing her soul and scaring her to death. And because it was so personal and so intimate there is no “image” available this week to capture this moment.
She was brave. She asked questions. I tried to tie everything together but not overwhelm her – This is why mommy started the Foundation; This is why we support and volunteer with so many organizations that care about people in prison and their families; This is why we raise money for kids we didn’t know before but consider family now.
She had a few questions. I know there will be more over time. A few of them will be very hard to answer I am sure. Her biggest question: “Can this happen again?”. How do you answer that? I answered that in the best way I knew how as her mom and protector in that moment – NO. But the truth is, it can and it does every day. Innocent people go to prison for things they didn’t do as I like to say on social media: Every. Damn. Day.
This week also saw many clemencies and pardons for people who were innocent as well as some who were guilty but didn’t deserve the insane sentences they received for non-violent crimes. My heart explodes with joy when hearing these stories. As a family member of an innocent person I really cannot explain the feeling I have when another person walks free. But the celebration is usually temporary for me and many others in this work because the mind cannot help but immediately pivot to how many more there are out there.
I think I did OK this week threading the needle between the brutal truth and still trying to protect my daughter. More than anything I am so relieved to have the weight of it off my chest. It’s been terrifying to think about her finding out from someone at an event, reading the story online or from interacting with an innocent bystander who is just excited about the Foundation.
We survived “the talk”. This one anyway.
With Gratitude and Hope for the Future,
Founder, Ava’s Grace Scholarship Program
Mom – CEO – Justice Warrior