Thinking about my mama and the ways that she has built her life for and around Black children. This is how she and my grandmother and so many of us have resisted. By building a world and trusting it to work better than the current one. By arming and disarming.
Thinking about the ways that Black children have protected and loved us even when we haven’t/ do not deserve it. The way that they name inconsistencies and contradictions. The ways that they build networks, mark unsafe territory, break and build anew.
Thinking about their smiles and their anger. Their pain and sadness. Thinking about how necessary it is for them to have space to choose. They deserve this always. It is on us to check ourselves when what we are doing looks like they don’t.
They have always had us.
Today I’m thinking about my brother who made 11 last month. Last Friday night, we found out that my mama’s best friend/ my aunt Dana passed. I didn’t have access to a car and my mama lives 40 miles away. (Due to the fires and the quality of air, she asked me to come visit her the next day instead of that night.)
I asked my brother, Wooda, how mom was doing. He replied that he knows something happened because she went in her room and closed the door. (She never does this.) He said she’s either very angry or very sad. I told him she was sad.
He then asked, “Is it about her friend that is in the hospital or did somebody die or in the hospital?” I said it’s about one of her friend’s who was in the hospital. (Which is a half truth. My aunt had open heart surgery a few months ago because she was having problems with her aorta.)
He replied, “I thought so… She must be going through some rough times right now. I’ll make sure the kids aren’t making too much noise.”
I call my cousin and my other aunt who bring food for the kids because my mama is holding a lot and they haven’t eaten dinner yet. My aunt gets to my mom’s house and drops off the food to the kids. My mom isn’t there… She left to go pick up one of my siblings’ siblings.
Do you hear me? Left after just hearing my aunt had a heart attack in a restaurant and the paramedics weren’t able to resuscitate. How another loved one is dead. How she’d seen her the weekend before and helped her organize her storage.
She left/ carried this grief with her to go pick up and care for a child in need, whose parent is not able to provide that care right now.
These are the folk I come from. This is what we’re capable of and have already built.
Are there complex feelings that I have about my brother holding that until my mom came back an hour later? About me telling him about our aunt when I arrived the next day? About my mom leaving in her grief to go protect another baby? About my guilt of not being there to hold anyone?
Yes. Yes. Yes.
But this. This is something. This is everything to me. These are my/ our folk. And we deserve rest and breaks. We deserve the space to mourn all that has happened. This is not just survival. This is something else.
I’m grieving. I’m angry. I’m thinking about my aunt and her pain. How when we went to L.A. I told my mom it looked and felt like she would die soon. How part of me feels guilty saying these things out loud. A voice says I willed it.
I push it down.
This is what we have always done. I wish for them/ us to have more space. To not always carry.