My Parents owned an impossibly high and wide bed. To my nine year old eyes, the wide bed was like King Arthur’s bouncy castle, it was magnificently sprawled across the small Master bedroom, filling the entire room and leaving little room on either side. The room was the bed. My parents’ bed was my place of refuge. It bore the perfect ratio between comfort and substance that my bunk-bed would never accomplish. Who needs a floor with space when you can bounce, roll, and flip to where you need to go? I would scramble onto the foot of the bed, my sisters squeezing on either side of me, and prop my head in my hands. We’d stretch as far as our limbs could go in our limited bubbles. We would watch movies on my Parent’s tiny TV in our t-shirts and eat Orville Redenbacher’s Popcorn with extra butter. We’d spend hours watching Aladdin, Belle, and Hercules in a world we conceived in our minds existed somewhere. My Parent’s room was where my family and I would sing together because the walls of the room emphasized our harmony. My Parents’ room was also where my sisters and I would listen, on edge, to Daddy talk about his adventures as a Corrections Officer. My sister Alleyah was always the first to slickly swipe Daddy’s glowing handcuffs and leisurely cuff and un-cuff her hands while he told us his story of the day.
Daddy would come home exhausted, looking as if he had never had an ounce of sleep in his life. When he kicked off his shoes and flopped down at the head of the bed, a sudden animated spirit would revive him from his restlessly dormant state and give us our news for the day. We would hear about men who taunted guards, men who fought other men, and men who were just plain insane. We would hear about the crimes they committed and the crazy things that some inmates did to pass the time. The rise and fall of his voice matched the motions of his hands as he gestured the story into life, ushering the story from his mind before our eyes. He would censor the stories, shielding our eyes from the severity of life outside and behind brick walls. Although I was attentive to the stories, I mostly looked forward to Daddy’s animated face and his booming laugh that erupted from his belly and seemed to interrupt him mid-word.
Even Saturdays, when I often tested the strength of the soles of my bare feet on the earth of our back yard, I could hear Daddy’s laughter fill the universe. In me, it confirmed and ingrained a feeling of place. Here, wrapped in the arms of apple and pear trees, away from the rowdy, intrusive Brinkley Road, I was safe to do anything. I knew where I was in my family. I was the eldest of four kids in a family of six. I was my sister’s adventure doctor and my baby brother’s diaper changer. I was my Father’s little girl and I was my Mother’s diary of secrets. All that mattered was where I stood among the most important people in my life.
The grass in our yard was green and full of rabbit holes. My sisters and I would carefully run around, being careful to land our feet like astronauts on the moon. The holes led to the unexpected, and in our minds, either led to a twisted ankle or a trip to China. The trees that surrounded us bore a story themselves. The previous owners were an old married couple who planted their own food and were married for a lifetime. They had been the original owners of the brick rambler and raised a family in my home. I often wondered if their kids ever climbed the trees their parents grew or peeled the bark off the base of the apple trees as I would often do.
The yard was electrified with lively fireflies at night in the summer. I felt as if these bugs had invaded the solitude of our open yard, disturbing an unspoken balance. Although I was logical and knew that the living light bulbs could not harm me, I never approached them without a pair of gloves and a jar. When I encased them in the glass, I was not filled with some awe-inspired feeling of wonderment. I was glad I trapped the “bugs that won’t stop following me.” I fell asleep in comfort knowing that the Lightning bug inmates couldn’t harm me or my family with no way of escape. I was the unspoken family guard.
On February 24th, 2011 my Mother passed away after fighting Breast Cancer (Triple Negative Breast Cancer) for 4 years. She was the most amazing woman I knew. I am glad that she is no longer in pain.
My mother’s Birthday was on May 17th and she would have been 45 today if she was still alive. I began the day expecting to mourn her loss, but I did the opposite. Today was spent laughing, crying tears of joy and eating with my family.
I drove around singing out loud to nothing playing (My radio doesn’t work sometimes) with my windows down, not caring who heard. I HAD RED LOBSTER BISCUITS.
Today was not only my last day as an undergrad student, but it was also my Mother’s day. I spent the day happy, in celebration of her life. I no longer feel empty. I feel hopeful.
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” -Dr. Seuss
I intended to post this on 2.24.12 to mark the first year since my Mom passed, but I didn’t. So why not the first day of my Mom’s favorite Month?
The thing that I found to be eerie and inspiring about this is that I wrote it around Midnight on February 24th, 2011 and I felt a strong emotional connection to something I did not understand. Later that same day my Mom passed away. I remember before I knew that she passed that I was excited to share this with her because I wrote it for my creative writing class. I always loved my mother, but writing this made me feel an appreciation for her that was deeper than I felt before.
One thing that I am proud to say is that I feel no regrets. I always let my Mom know that I loved her and we never hid anything from each-other. She was the most open and kindhearted person I know. I know people speak kindly of those who have passed but are only saying it to fluff up an image of that person. But I can say genuinely 100% that my Mother was the most amazing, open, and funniest person I’ve had the honor of knowing. The funny thing is I no longer feel a feeling of “loss” because I will see her again. I don’t feel whole, but I feel a contentment that only she could have taught me and that she continues to give me. I don’t like to talk about whats going on in my life, but I felt the need to share.
Tell the people you love that you love them. Share with them. Be open. Live your life with no regrets. Do it now. Don’t put it off. We don’t like to talk about it, but we never know when our time to go is coming. While you are still here living, breathing and laughing…Share your laughter with others. I’m speaking on a simple level without regard to your religion, race, political affiliation or gender. No matter who you are, “Show” your love. When things don’t go the way you planned, you’ll wish you did.
So here it is:
Cradled by a dark-caramel colored frame, etched with hand drawn manufactured words of “Peace, Nature, Live,and Freedom” around it, sits a photo of my Mom, sister, and me. My Mom is at least 24 years old, Samaya is barely alive at 4 days, and I am 2. My Mother is sitting high on the end of a bed scattered with floral patterns, holding both of us. A tan backrest pillow un-purposely leans against Mommy at the moment. No one’s eyes notice the camera-holder, or focus on the lightning flash of the disposable camera. No eyes can be seen.
All eyes are on Samaya. I sit with my back to the camera, my diaper hanging proudly out of my light baby blue pajama pants, supporting her head with my hand. Mommy’s arms are wrapped around the both of us. Her right hand meets her left fist, which is cradled awkwardly around Samaya to support her entire body. Samaya’s shoulder blades rest in the nook of her elbow. She doesn’t seem to mind. In this moment, her eyes look completely shut, but they are consumed in the new born. In this moment, we are supporting each other. Mommy is keeping me from tumbling from her lap and I am attempting to keep Samaya’s head upright. Her arms, wrapped around the both of us, are continuous in life and in spirit.
Samaya’s hair clings to her like it’s been smoothed down in perfect black waves around her scalp. Her skin is bright yellow; the sun’s second cousin. Just bright enough to handle, but not too bright to go unnoticed. She’s newly-shriveled and soft, her face formed into a frozen scowl that shows some discomfort. Mommy bought a white blanket that snugly envelopes her from neck to toe, wrapping Samaya in warmth. My head is covered in four large plaits marked with individual barrettes. My hair neatly shoots off in different directions divided by carefully greased and separated parts. My head, turned away from the camera, blocks the mouth of my smiling Mother, only indicated by the rise in her upper cheek-bones. Mommy’s bright orange-and green head band pushes back her hair in a mass of thick dyed almond and blackness that carries down to the tops of her earlobes. Her hair is has been tediously parted down the middle, sending fluffs of thickness on either side of her head. Below, a bright orange t-shirt accompanies her head band, highlighted against the white of my t-shirt and Samaya’s blanket.
We are in my Mommy’s room, so the room must have a smell that you can’t quite identify, you just know it must smell good. It’s probably something flowery, but not overwhelming so that it lightly touches your nostrils, rather than send it into a fiery pit of stink. Mommy looks like the great pumpkin against the brown floral patterning on the wall, thoughtlessly scattered against a white background. She sticks out like a accidental Queen amongst these dead things. Everything is haphazardly tossed this way and that: the phone, the covers, the baby brush, and the bottle, but all within reach. I, myself, look like I’m on the brink of collapsing, but only forward, into Mommy.
A tell-tale sign that we are all one in the same is the peak that breaches our hair lines, Mommy’s is the most defiant. It highlights either side of her face, this time her right. You see her long “roman” nose that I always dared to grab, her high eyebrows, the roundness of her face. When she was younger, she always tried to shave it off, finding it to be unattractive. I did the same thing, but I discovered that without it I feel bare. I feel that I am not only denying, but I am erasing a part of what makes me who I am. I know it’s a simple hairline, but it goes beyond that. I am my Mother’s daughter, and I am proud of everything that makes me. The little things that we forget are the big things that make us who we are, and for me it’s a hairline.