My daughter was at a friend’s house. Driving home, I spent half an hour on the phone with Verizon, trying to adjust my bill. I had a data overage... because of her watching videos. I was fuming. I got home and tripped over a pair of high top Converse strewn across the floor, her food was where she left it after eating, then I walked into the living room to find my favorite black patent stilettos in the middle of the living room where she left them after trying them on, pillows tossed on the couch and remotes on the floor. In my room, I found clothes all over my bed, and my flat iron gone. I felt my blood rise, “Why is sh-t all over the place?!!!” But, before I flew across the room, picking up in irritation, I paused, adjusted my perspective, took a deep breath, and smiled... Her stuff was all over the place and that was a beautiful thing.
Life is filled with co-existing emotional dualities; and in the midst of them, we have to be the best human iteration of our soul, and figure out what’s really important. We must be who we decide to be, no matter what life throws at us. We have to saturate our lives with love and joys — while the pains happen simultaneously.
Yesterday afternoon, I had to talk with my bi-racial, 13-year-old daughter about another black man being senselessly shot to death, answer her questions, talk about why every life matters and how important it is to remain vigilant, while always choosing love over hate. I had to tell her to choose what she fills her mind with, and to select carefully what emotions she carries in her heart. She asked me why people struggle over color and why her friends ask her to choose what color she is “when I’m half of you and Daddy? I am me.” We discussed race, homophobia, judgment,fear, the importance of speaking one’s truth, then went to sleep. Later, she came into my room, “Mommy, can I sleep with you tonight?” We snuggled in.
I slept restlessly, thinking about the state of the world, pondering the look on my baby’s child/woman face, as she begins to see the world — in all its splendor and pain. I didn’t like the fact that she was learning some of the harsher realities of life, but I can’t keep her sheltered forever, nor do I want to.
My friend Maggy called at the crack of dawn, to tell me of the loss of Journey, the energetic 13-year-old daughter of a mutual friend. Just four months ago, the family was on a vacation. After coming home, Journey began to complain of pain. Shortly after, she was given a terminal diagnosis of renal medullary carcinoma. Within months, she was in hospice, and today, she is gone.
Eleven hours later, I boarded a plane to celebrate the marriage of one of my closest friends, who will marry a man who has been in love with her since high school. After a painful divorce, she remained single for more than ten years; until they reconnected at their high school reunion.
What does it all mean? A senseless murder, the death of a child, a wedding, and looking into the eyes of a teenage baby/woman who I am raising to be conscious, compassionate, loving, authentic, outspoken, fearless and true to who she is — no matter what.
Whatever happens, I will be present for it all. I’ll be true to my soul. I will love as deeply as I’ll cry. My heart will ache, and I’ll celebrate. I will speak my truth fearlessly and I’ll give life all of me. I will not stand idly by. I may never have the answers, but whenever I leave this world, it will know that I was here.
For now, I’ll relish tripping over strewn Converse sneakers, stretched out stilettos (she wears a size 9 and I, a 7 1/2), I’ll not anger over my missing mascara, nor will I complain about the couch or plates. I will love every moment of my daughter’s teenage angst and let go of things that don’t matter. My heart will ache for Journey, her parents and her siblings. I will have sleepless nights, shed tears... and smiles about the beauty she brought to those around her.
Then, I will put on my dress, get my baby, who now stands shoulder to shoulder with me, ready for the wedding and we will celebrate the marriage of Rita and Lance. Later, I’ll look up at the stars and wonder. I don’t know much, but I know without a doubt, the meaning of time, of me, and the meaning of my why... And that is to love fearlessly and with abandon, never let the world define who I am, to feel deeply, detach from ego, be the highest expression that God created me to be... to always choose what is good, what is just and what my soul guides me to... And I... will... live.
And, if the price I pay for loving too deeply is hurtling too deeply, that’s ok with me. It’s better than not feeling at all.