Color of Freedom
My two year old son died with Purple Passionflower polish on his toes and fingernails. As soon as he could ask for something, at six months, pointing and grunting his intentions for food, drink, me, and dazzle on his toes, I painted him to match me. Not a daughter, but this at least we had in common early on, and it made me sigh with joy to greet him in the middle of the night, his Sunset Orange fingers held my breast to his mouth as his Firefly Red toes danced with satisfaction against my still-swollen stomach. Once, a colleague of my husband’s laughed when he saw our sons and their Neon Punk Pink toes, made some homophobic joke that no one laughed at. The next day, my husband painted his own toes Deeply Madly Maroon and took his socks off at work and I knew I would never leave him in this lifetime. After my son’s last breath, my husband asked me if I was going to take off the polish before we carried his body to our van and then into the local funeral home. Off his fingers, not his toes. I would not take that much of his dignity away in death. His life meant something, and some days, freedom needs all its champions shouting at once.