My husband told me a long time ago that my story is my pearl and not everyone deserves them.
My son told me that it is time, Ma, to write that story.
I've been contemplating my life, maybe it is the brush with a recent health situation of getting older and creaking knees, that has me thinking about the non-renewable resource of time.
"I have more years behind me than in front of me, " was something my late father said to me when I was flew back home to visit him when I was in my thirties and filled with hope and possibility.
"Nah, Dad, you will be around for a while." Little did I know that he was battling as blood cancer that hadn't been diagnosed until a few months later that would take his life six months after that. Daddy wrote and all that he wrote is lost to the moves and hands of those who cared more about themselves than his legacy. His brilliance whispered away with his last breath.
Perhaps it is the Twilight Zone of Covid that has me exploring the nuances of my life story and what can or should be uncovered. I mean, I'm not. unlike a lot of people who trotted through the doorway of Facebook to connect with family and friends, even forming some cyber communities only to realize years later that it was an exhausting adventure. Perhaps it was in that space of sharing and bantering that parts of my story have already been written. I'm not famous, so who cares.
"Mama, I've told so many people about your strength, write that sh•t," quipped my oldest son who, along with my oldest daughter, are my most ardent supporters of words at the ends of my fingers. "Yeah, maybe you're right."
One of the things that has been on my mind is that there was such a failure of the adults around me. As an adult with emerging adult children, I wanted to spend my life parenting them with their future in mind, regardless of what it may have cost me. To me, the most important assignment I had was to raise them to be assured of themselves, to be confident in their abilities, to know that they were safe, and to go into the world knowing they could do whatever they wanted. For years, I poured into them.
And maybe it was because that was denied me the first time, when imagination and possibility was snatched away. When healing and journey meant not wanting to wear that moniker but it ended up being the one most cherished, later in life, when life emerged from me again. I may not have always been expecting it or even ready for it, but definitely threw my heart and soul into being a champion for the ones who walked around because of me.
I woke up today thinking about myself when I was eighteen, scared, far from anything familiar, silenced, and held by a real life Halloween monster, and what she needed most in life. As I look around at the shenanigans of elected officials who are trying to snuff out all knowledge and quest for women and girls, from Texas to Florida to everywhere red hats are running around recreating the Handmaid's Tale, I still think about that girl and the protection that was never her clock. So when my son told me to write about it and my husband told me everyone could not handle it, I sat with it all for years and wondered what could come from remembering a life lived over decades.
So many of us have overcome horrific things, even surviving Covid has posed challenges to a lot of people, so much so that some have literally lost their sense of reasoning, arguing over masks and if they can let their kids battle the forces of this virus unprotected. It is a communal and collective time that has people doing everything from stepping back from what the grinding wheel of work-life took from them, to trying to decide if someone like them even has a place in this world. Identity markers and reclaiming or remembering history, or looking through the lens of time to learn the lessons so others won't have to endure it, maybe that is the reasons for telling one's story. I'm not famous, but do I have to be?
"The ones who were supposed to care, didn't," was the sentence uttered by a young colleague about a challenging situation we both encountered at our former non-profit. What sits with me about it is that it could sum up the time of my life between 16-19.
As adults, do we get past the causes of original situations? Do we keep pushing through life just thinking about ourselves and not the impact of those decisions on others?
I was on Instagram and there was a post of a Roma hip-hop group of girls who are ethnic Europeans and were protesting the custom of marrying girls off early. This post was a few days after reading a post about the Taliban who finally let the girls attend School, but only in some parts of Afghanistan. Then, I thought about my daughter ,at our former church, who quipped, "they are so busy trying to save the sons that they destroy the daughters." What is it about the power of women that men and society want to squash?
Why do boys get to do whatever they want and walk away unscathed, leaving the girl to deal with the consequences? And then, why do men in suits get to decide what her punishment should be for daring to believe? Or why do women follow behind those men and claim that she should be ashamed of herself when what happened to her wasn't even her choice? Why do we do that? Is it fear or because we don't want to face that it could easily have been one of us or someone we know and love?
In my lifetime, I've raised human beings who walk confidently in the earth, and I've counseled human beings who know I am a trusted listener and take action advocate. In the course of my life, I've driven a college classmate across states to get the care she needed for a situation neither she nor her boyfriend were ready for at the time. I've handed out shiny little round packages and driven around with them in my van for emergency calls. I answered an early Sunday morning panicked call from a girl and waited for the negative results to then counsel her that if that is not what she wanted, then she needed to protect herself and her dreams. My boys and my girls got the same "Mama! TMI! Ok, ok, we get it," conversations every time I talked to them about life. I wanted them to know what was denied me.
Maybe that was my purpose. That it could only be someone like me who did not let the monster win, even though the most precious was violently taken and the time of remembering brings back the mourning, I still lived. That is the thing, I lived. I'm far from perfect, but did not let the imperfect Destroy me and that is the ultimate memorial.