For some reason this week I have been visited by and/or reminded of people who passed away over my lifetime. Their passing was sense-less so it hurt without boundaries or the protection provided by reason.
- Sharon was my stepmother and she was shot at my father’s work league basketball game while cheering for him in the stands. She was 33 years old, a huge sports fanatic, she had big cheeks and my final memory is my 8-year-old self kissing her cheek good-bye at the funeral.
- Johnny was my friend from high school who committed suicide when he was a senior. He was struggling with being successful at a predominantly white high school as a black male and being relevant in a predominantly black neighborhood. He got caught stealing sneakers at a local retailer and hung himself with his Judo rope; he felt that he had dishonored his family. A Judo champion on the yearbook staff and student government, a cutie pie, and smart. He could not have been older than 17.
- Brandon was another friend from high school in the same senior class as Johnny. He was shot breaking up a fight at a football game between two celebrated black schools (neither of which he attended). He was an athlete, popular, cute, smart, great personality, and just plain nice.
- Cassandra, my distant cousin died suddenly alone in her home in her fifties.
- Stacy, an elementary school friend died last December. She was missing for months before they discovered her body in the woods. Her cause of death was ruled “hypothermia.” I had reconnected with her and had dinner six months prior to her death. She was quiet in school and a quiet adult. She had a beautiful smile.
While I feel I’m in mourning that came over me like a soft blanket, I also feel surrounded by many of my people surrounding me at once. Daisy and Jack Davis were my older grandparents, both died in their nineties and celebrated a 70 year wedding anniversary. Dot and Pappy were my younger “sharp-tongued” grandparents both died early of cancer but they sure knew how to Get Crunk! when the occasion required it. Some I only knew through their words, lyrics, and offerings, but I feel them here with me. Giving me guidance. Holding me accountable. Showing me my path.
“She does not know her beauty. She thinks her brown body has no glory. If she could dance naked under palm trees, and see her image in the river she would know.”
I’ve know rivers. I’ve know rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins. My soul has grown deep like the rivers…. I’ve known rivers, ancient dusky rivers, my soul has grown deep like the rivers.
All that you touch, you change. All that you change, changes you. The only lasting truth is change, God Is Change.
Change means growth, and growth can be painful. But we sharpen self-definition by exposing the self in work and struggle together with those whom we define as different from ourselves, although sharing the same goals.
Freedom is indivisible or it is nothing at all besides sloganeering and temporary shortsighted, and short-lived advancement for a few. Freedom is indivisible, and either you are working freedom or you are working for the sake of your self-interests and I am working for mine.
I hear these voices talking me through my mourning. When you are mourning, but can not identify the cause try name-calling and see if doesn’t help just a little. Name-calling is recognition. Recognize mourning and be at peace.
Who are you mourning? Whose name will you call?