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acceptance

May 18, 2017 Comments off

“The mole, I’m not
so worried about,”
said the nurse practitioner,
peering at me over the rims
of her eyeglasses. “It’s
the anxiety that
concerns me.”

“I didn’t say anything
about anxiety,” I
pointed out.

“Oh, honey,
you didn’t
have to.”

“This is half as bad
as it was even a
month ago,”
I replied.

We talked
for fifteen minutes.

At one point,
I said, “the best thing
was accepting, really
accepting, that the world
could be very, very grim
for my children, no matter
what I do or say–“

“We don’t know that
it will be!”
she cautioned.

“Oh, I know. I’ve been
reading Arundhati Roy
and Rebecca Solnit, and,
well, dozens of other authors
just this year. There’s hope in
uncertainty, here.”

She nodded.

“What I mean is:
I was ragged from figuring
out what I could do, and how
I could do it, to show that citizens
must not wait for politicians to do
the right thing environmentally.
What finally freed me
from that churn
was seeing that …
if the outcome does end up
being very, very grim,
it will be all the more important
for me to have left my sons
with tons and tons of love
to sustain them through
hardships I can’t
change.
They’ll need
the memory
of all
that
love
to get by,
you know?
So I’ll keep
reading, and I’ll
keep showing up,
where I think it’ll help,
but I’m not arguing anymore,
or fretting about the right words,
or seeking the magic combination
that’ll suddenly engage
the disengaged,
but mostly,
mostly …
I’ll love
on
my
sons.”

When I left
the room moments later,
she told me, “You’re
a lovely woman.”

“Ha!” I wanted to say.
“You should talk to
some of my now-
former friends.”

Instead,
I accepted her words,
and her hug,
too

that sweet man

meeting

Hello, farewell

When my mom
met my now-husband
four months before she died,
she told me I had to
“marry that sweet man”

I resisted, of course;
marriage sucked, and
my mom still didn’t know
anything

Except, years later,
I understand she knew
much more than I
know, even now

As Anthony left
the house earlier,
he joked
that I was lucky to marry
such a man as him

“Not to be smug,” he added,
with a laugh

“Yes, I am,”
I replied earnestly,
“And I told your mom
she raised a good man,
just yesterday”

(And then he
wasn’t laughing,
and that was
beautiful, too)

Anthony has
watched me grapple with
centuries of painful truths
in a couple
short
years

He’s supported me
even when he doesn’t
agree with my conclusions,
and encouraged me doing
what I must to
understand
(& change)

He has been
my rock

I don’t know if
I will blog here again,
but I want you to know,
if you take nothing else
from having joined me here,
that the best thing I did
my whole life
was marry
that
sweet
man

daddy love

With our oldest

daddy littler j

With our youngest

wedding bw

Us

The Hate U Give

I laughed and wept, both alternately and simultaneously, as I read Angie Thomas’s

The
Hate
U
Give.

For a couple years now, I’ve witnessed as names become hashtags. I’ve seen people killed twice over:

first,
when breath was stolen
from their bodies;
next,
when their lives were stolen,
too, swept away by words like
“no angel” or “drug dealer” or “thug,”
as if an entire life
is worth no more
than its worst
(alleged)
offense.

I’ve understood how a person, once painted an “offender,” is seldom understood as worth one more thought. I’ve struggled to explain how

each life taken
is a loss insufferable,
outrageous, egregious;
a. loss. of. a. whole. life.

(that could have been anything)

When I read the fictional-but-not-really-fictional, staggering, powerful The Hate U Give, my whole body sighed. I saw that this is how people understand the life behind the death; the years of needless hate behind a moment’s sanctioned bullets.

While this exact Khalil never lived in this flesh-and-blood world, he lived in a heart that bled onto pages. Those pages are now being read by thousands upon thousands of people. And this Khalil, though he lives in heart and page, represents many who lived
in
this
world:

Oscar.
Trayvon.
Rekia.
Michael.
Eric.
Tamir.
John.
Ezell.
Sandra.
Freddie.
Alton.
Philando.
Emmett.

Once upon a time, each of these people lived and laughed and cried and yearned. Their ability to do these things ever again was stolen from them, but you and I? By remembering them, we can change the world.

By remembering them, we can

end
this
list.

thug

Many thanks to Alison Doherty for the recommendation

 

 

Hair, just a fraction

“Mama?” my seven-year-old, Li’l D, spoke.

“Yep?”

“My friend [M] said that the difference between my hair and [my little brother, Littler J’s] is that his is way bigger because it hasn’t been cut for a while.”

“That’s one difference,” I said. “Another is that his hair is fine, while your hair is …” I searched for the right word, understanding many words that seem neutral in the dictionary are charged in living color.

“Your hair is thick,” I concluded.

“Which is better?” Li’l D asked plaintively.

“Oh, sweetie,” I said, ruffling his thicker curls. “Neither is better. When I was little, my only friend who wasn’t my sibling–Topaz–had curly hair. I was so jealous of her curly hair. Then again, she wished she had my straight hair.”

Li’l D looked at his brother’s hair and half-smiled. “Oh.”

I don’t know if he believes me now. I don’t know if he’ll believe me later. I only know that (1) pre-pregnancy me of eight years ago wouldn’t have understood “dog whistles,” or the ways politicians invoke race without ever explicitly mentioning it, and (2) I believe it through-and-through. His curls are lovely. His brother’s curls are lovely.

One brother’s curls are fine. Another brother’s curls are coarse.

Both brothers are beautiful; either’s hair, only a fraction of that.

 

no. matter. what.

I have three full-blood siblings. Each of those three siblings are soulful, compassionate people; together, they have been my lifeline for most of four decades.

My siblings all had one elementary school teacher who never taught me in a classroom. Far from condemning my single mother, as most adults around my siblings and I did, this teacher praised her: “Any one of your children is kinder and more compassionate than any other student I’ve ever had. That all three of them are like that tells me it’s not an accident, but a reflection of you.”

I was never his student, but he and I became friendly in the years after my siblings left his classroom. He went on to teach teachers. He told me he used me and my siblings as shining examples of what you can become when you care for other people.

(When I had a chance to help one of his people a few years ago, I leaped! How seldom do any of us have a chance to explicitly show kindness to the people who have saved us?!)

Sometimes, I talk to people and wonder how they have so little faith in the folks around them. “How do you believe people are innately assholes, and only ever pretend to be otherwise?” I ask myself, puzzling over this until something or another reminds me: They did not have my siblings!

As my mom lost herself to untreated mental illness, I had my siblings. As our mom died of cancer, I had my siblings. After she died and I argued heatedly about how we should dispose of her house, I had my siblings.

(I was so angry about how we disposed of Mom’s house, I signed the papers upside-down to reflect my protest. Still, I signed because I understood my siblings were more important than a house, and I apologized later when I really understood it.)

And so, I have walked through every day of my life knowing I have three people who will support me even when they want to whack me upside the head (which is probably often). I have three people who know, absolutely, that my heart is full of love, even when the things I do or say don’t necessarily reveal that.

Most people don’t have that.

That is a sadness I can’t even fathom.

‘Cause, see, I have always had these three people–Rachael, David, and Madeline–who have had my back, so I can’t imagine life without them.

2013 siblings small

then and now

Most people have never even had one-third of that. Read more…

Love you well deserve

 

“You both
have so much energy,”
a mom told my husband
as she watched him and me
play with our boys
at the playground
a few weeks ago.

“Yeah, well,
we have fun,”
he replied.

I was saddened
by the exchange,
but not sure why.

I kept stepping.

“It really looks
like you’re having fun
with your kids!” a cashier
told me and my husband
a few days later.
“It’s sweet.”

(“It just comes naturally
to my husband,” I should’ve said,
but didn’t.)

“My mom really
had fun with me
and my siblings,”
I said, smiling.

I was saddened
by the exchange,
but not sure why.

I kept stepping.

Last week,
someone told
my husband that
our seven-year-old
is just the sweetest.

“He said, ‘You can tell which
kids are so, so very loved,’
my husband relayed. Read more…

Show Up Today

I drove to LAX last night.

Once there, I joined a crowd of a couple hundred people. They–we–demanded release of Muslims from certain countries detained based on a Trump (read: Bannon) executive order issued yesterday.

A California congressperson informed us one Iranian student had already been deported. She and others were at the airport demanding access to the detainees.

As I stood chanting, hoping that so many people show up for Sunday solidarity at airports, I regretted deeply how I contributed to this outcome.

As I drove home, I thought of a post I wrote in October. In “The could-have-been soul-kin of Anne Frank,” I wrote:

anne frank.png

I thought about the quiet inaction of those who watched as Nazis committed genocide. They likely hoped they’d earn safety for themselves and their own if they remained silent.

I understood that the U.S. coming-for actually began at least fifteen years ago.

I thought of three kids who’d stood chanting opposite me at LAX.

They don’t deserve less than my or your non-Muslim kids. In fact, what we do to protect them will profoundly impact the safety of all our kids … forever.

So if you’re wondering what you, just one person, can do? You can donate to the ACLU, busy fighting this heinous executive order. It was the ACLU that earned yesterday’s stay that, unfortunately, wasn’t acted on quickly enough at some airports.

You can call Congress, multiple times every day. You can show up at city council meetings, and other local political meetings. You can call your friends and bring them with  you.

And today? Today you can drive to your nearest airport, and join others in saying, “Not on my watch!”

You don’t need to know what you’re doing tomorrow. Just … please, please, show up today.

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