Dear Nygil,

Life without you is so hard. I can’t believe I’m even typing this right now! On that fateful day, what should’ve been just a fun night out for you, ended up being your last night here on this earth. When I was told the details of your last moments, I cringed at hearing the account of how fearful you were. The crazy part is you did nothing wrong. Nothing. You were a black boy. A black boy with spiky hair and gold teeth. But is that a crime?! In reality no, but in America and the world at large, often times it is. Yes, you had a gun on your hip. But based on the gun laws that were recently passed in Georgia, that wasn’t even a crime!

On the day you died, the police were called on you not once, but twice. Your only “crime” was falling into the category of being a young black boy. You were never claimed to be a threat. Nygil, you didn’t point your gun at anyone, you didn’t cause a disturbance. They never even asked you to leave the restaurant where you simply wanted to enjoy a meal like the other patrons. You were black and that made them angry. Not once did they consider the many lives that would be left in shambles when your life was taken.

My level of emotional pain is extremely high. Some days, I honestly don’t know whether I’m coming or going. I’m trying so hard to push forward with the mission and assignment God has given me. But I have to be honest. This is by far the most difficult thing I have ever done. Dear Lord, how do you expect me to continue as a mother? I have other sons who are “guilty” of the same thing. They are young black men growing up in this hateful, evil, cruel world! As a mom, I just want to protect my sons. I want to love them, carry them, shield them from every painful thing in this world.

People are used to me being the strong one. And Lord knows I try. I try so hard to continue being the strong mom, friend, business owner that I’m known for. Every role I play, I try to fulfill my duty without crushing under the weight of this burden. But I have to admit, it’s hard. My smiles used to be genuine. Now, they are forced. Nygil, since your death, I only genuinely smiled on my birthday. And that’s only because I could feel your presence.

If people could see inside of me, and view my bleeding heart, I’m sure I’d look dead inside. I try to hold on as best as I can. They say time heals all wounds. I believe they just say that to try and give us peace and a sense of hope.

Oh, Nygil! If I could have you back. Even for just a few moments, I would. I’d want to remind how much I love you like I always told you. From the moment you were born, I knew you were different. God had created you divinely and uniquely. That’s why I always kept a close eye on you. Sorry if I sometimes came off as overprotective. I’m even more sorry your life had to end like this. Our bond was unbreakable. My first son, my only breastfed baby, the older brother who lovingly looked out for anyone and everyone. You protected others and had a heart so big; you couldn’t contain all of your love and compassion for mankind. I had you as a teenager. Because of you, I was not a statistic, you pushed me to be better and do greater! You were the wind beneath my wings, my fire, my best friend!

Don’t worry son, I am going to fight with everything in me until you have justice. I will always make sure they say your name, #NygilCullins. God keeps reminding me that you’re still my wind and my fire, that you’re cheering me on. Now, you need me to push for the rights, fair treatment, and justice for other black and brown boys. So they can know they matter. So they can know they are not mistakes and that they have significance in this world.

Nygil, you should not have lost your life so soon. Your race shouldn’t have been your cause of death. Baby boy, Mommy’s still got you! I’ll never let your dreams or your legacy die. You still live through me.

The journey continues…

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