last year, my mom called me and told me my grandma died. only she didn't actually say that or maybe she did. at any rate, last year my grandmother did not die. i was embarrassed and delighted that i had got it wrong. It was sad, nonetheless because my aunt B died instead and this was after a year of 5 losses for my extended family. people were gutted. i was gutted even though i live so far away. these are the people who gave me reality and showed me the world. it hurt. it hurts, even the possibility of losing the ones we love.

 so i promised myself since she lived i would visit her and delight in her. my whole(little) family and we did. it was such a blessing. a second chance. i am not sure i used it to it's full advantage. it's hard to see the people who once were so big in your world become old and frail.

i forgot my grandmother was old. I forgot that human life is fragile. That we are but tiny breaths on a great big planet.

i always thought my grandmother, given the chance, could stare down a lion. she always had such a ferocious spirit. my love of nature came from running under her knees as she gardened. i would carefully put seeds in the ground under her toolage.

i bit into my first bell pepper straight from the garden under her eyes, learned to shuck corn and peas. we went fishing and ate potted meat and sardines with crackers.

we are a people without a paper trail. there are no endless pictures of me and her running around under the cedar of Lebanon or pine trees. there is no photo of the skillet she use to make biscuits and hot water cornbread. no one wrote down her collard green recipe. i don't know what happened to her crazy quilt but i have a pocketful of stories about the woman who changed my life.

we live in a world that says we matter only if certain criteria are met. my grandmother was not sanitized. she lived a wild life, at times.

she loved the lord. she would wake up in the morning and sometimes sing old spirituals. she lived a hard life. she loved dr. pepper. she was the first person who told me i mattered and that i was lovable. she would kiss me on the jaw and hug me hard. 

i don't know if i ever repayed her for all her kindness and love. i don't think one can do such a thing. as she lays fighting for her life....i want to remember her. i can't see her at the moment i can't hold her and the fact is i may never touch or lay eyes on her again. that's hard to swallow.

we grew up in dirt and trees. black country folks doing country folk things. there was a bible in our home, secrets in our hearts and prayers on our lips.

it was not a glamorous world. poverty and country living. no matter what Instagram tries to make you believe-- being poor in America is not an aesthetic. but it taught me so much about what matters and somehow i forgot. i forgot that i am tied to a world dissolving. one where people die. where i too, will die. and everyone i love and even those i despise will die.

in the church there is an answer for everything. i once asked my bible study leader if i would be reunited with my father in heaven and she said no because he was not of the right domination. i quit that faith.

it was not the faith of my grandmother. they were simple country folk, who believed if you loved God and followed Jesus that was enough. Sometimes they rolled in tongues and I think they believed in miracles. surely, they had seen a few being as they were.

there was always something to testify about. even as they walked through trials and poverty. there was the kindness of their neighbors who knew their name and their stories. there was the fragile earth beneath their feet and the wide sky full of pine trees. and just beyond that the heaven their hearts longed for.

we can categorize and trendify anything but Jesus doesn't need us to build our own kingdom on earth. the old timers knew that. that's why they learned their neighbor's name and would come over and pluck and hoe rows. if you needed something someone would show up with a little something to help you on your way. God didn't need an announcement, He/she worked miracles. fish and loaves. kisses on the cheek. people who made those who felt the least feel loved. ordinary magic or in my case, a grandmother.


edited to say: they took her off the life support and she woke up to her family surrounding her. i'm keeping the tense because i am writing about our relationship as a trip down memory-lane. i don't know what will happen but it feels like a such a miracle to get this stage. life is precious... love your people hard.

the good work

i finally figured out how to upload pictures onto my blog in a rationale manner. so, i am hoping that i can share more of my images here and even , ahem, make a better portfolio of my work. why am i writing about such mundane things when so much is going on here, there and everywhere? i dunno. why not? i guess i wonder if i am doing enough but i don't know if my doing is the same doing that your doing is and that is okay. we are not a monolithic. 

"we have so much "good" work to do," erica says and it give me pause to consider....because we do. me and you. them and us. everyone. we all got to do the hard and good stuff to make this world better. even if it falls apart. we need to remember that it has before. it will/may again. & still out of it all--the people rise.

i've had insomia for the past few day, okay weeks. the little baby (on the inside) is doing a parade or jumping jacks in the middle of the night. i've been getting up, writing, meditating, facing the news (in short spurts), trying to connect with people online and IRL more...showing up. we have such big things to do and it all starts at the micro level.

the good work doesn't happen over night. it builds. it's a life of choosing to care--for each other, ourselves and this earth we share.

let's do.

more than tolerance

we don't have to understand each other completely/ to know that each of us/ is worthy of protection/&  the rhythm of our own lives/ the dignity of our selves in color, in queer, in gender, in class, in body and mental abilities, in religion (or none), in water and sky...

we all belong here.

we always have.

we always will.

writing and healing

writing these days seems challenging. the words are just not flowing but then i wonder when they last did. and if that even matters.

sometimes, when i write i think i am suppose to have all the answers but i am slowly seeing that writing really just brings up more questions.

one of the best things writing has given me is a little more self-awareness. this awareness has given the courage to try and meet myself as i am where i am but also gently (and slowly) align myself to something bigger than me.

you see, i have been struggling (as usual) to understand what the purpose of my writing is for these days. without a big and lofty goals...should i even bother? i am now seeing this as the voice of a wet blanket that i once knew. someone who i allowed to stifle my creativity, my mind and my spirit. i am realizing how deep those wounds lie and the power that words can have over me. even when i think i've let go of that person or phase of life.

for me it all comes down to worthiness. to feel worthy of love, life and creativity when so many people or circumstances have said otherwise. we are not born knowing how to fight for our minds and souls. and most of the time, we don't even know that we need to filter, challenge or change the messages coming into us.

i use to think i needed to have keep myself off this blog but i think that was just an unrealistic thought. for better or worst, i write about my personal feelings and life. sometimes, i may delete those things and sometimes i may expand on those things but those things are my things. yes, i can write other things, things that feel less messy and vulnerable and i will be doing that more, this year. i love writing about those things but i have to write about them in a way that is my way because otherwise it just feels false and wooden. for the record, i don't think personal writing is all about pain and struggle ( i plan on writing about minimalism and spirituality more and i consider those to be mostly joyful topics).  i also want to tackle as best i can motherhood/parenting, marriage and community.

i think part of giving myself permission to write more has to start with acceptance. accepting that i will not be markable, that i will not be for everyone and that i am doing this mostly for me. which in this Internet age seems indulgence and blasphemous but it's where i am. i have lived for too long looking over my shoulder trying to please people i don't know or who have no stake in my life. i feel like those days have to fall away to these days.

i keep doing this dance. i have done it for years. i keep trying to go back and love that little black girl that i lost somewhere along highway 43. i keep trying to see here and her pain and allow her to speak. i keep holding her and telling her that it's okay. that she has every right to receive love, to live her life and love her life and the people in it. i keep on writing for her sake and mine because we can't expect anyone else to feed our heart and nurture our lives like our own hands. we can't expect our stories to matter to anyone, if they don't matter to us.

i keep writing even if feels senseless and glamorous-less because what it the alternative--silence? i keep writing because we don't have to look a certain way or have a plan to put our stories out there. we just show up. as best we can with our pen and paper. our laptop and words. and we testify to our experiences. not to be saints and heroes. we do this to understand that we are connected to each other, that we are not alone and the our voices add to the richness of humanity. we matter. our stories matter. no matter what anyone says. 

if it bring us healing, if it bring us connection, if it brings us to our can we not keep writing? how can we not keep trying to heal?