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3 years ago

1255 words

Photo: I have spent a lot of energy nursing my transplanted daisies to health over the last 2 weeks. Here one has popped. Just the faintest bit of joy on what was otherwise an excruciating day.

I have been thinking about how to write this post since yesterday morning, when I turned on the news and learned about the massacre in Charleston. I considered my feelings, consulted the much more eloquent words of my favorite thinkers and writers…

and I’ve sat down to write this post multiple times. Sometimes by long hand, sometimes in my word processor…

I keep coming up empty.

I’ve started a draft by writing about my fear: Is there no sacred place for Blackness, no safe place? Then I chastised myself, throwing the paper away. If you give into the fear, Kyra, the terrorist wins. Don’t give him your fear. Don’t feed him with your withdrawal.

I’ve started a draft by writing about my anger: Another man with another gun, more victims gone because we are not brave enough to speak plainly, to make laws that reflect our resolve, and to enforce highest ideals as a nation. Then I chastised myself, deleting the words in the screen. Don’t give comfort to his allies with your anger, Kyra. Don’t allow him your anguish. Don’t feed him with your rash words and thoughtless action.

I’ve started a draft by writing about my exhaustion: I feel like we’ve been under siege for eighteen months, with no recourse, little action, no hope for any change. Then I chastised myself, killing my word processor and walking away from my computer. Don’t give up on those who’ve fought and who fight, Kyra. Don’t turn your back, don’t curl up in a corner. Don’t silence your voice. Don’t feed him with your doubts and your submission.

I’ve started a draft by writing about my sorrow: Did my grandparents toil and fight and march for nothing? Are we forever subject to the mockery of some, the violence of others, the constant draining of our talents by the silent majority? Will my pain forever be invisible? Will my sons know this pain as they get older? Then I chastised myself, sending the draft post to the wordpress trash can. Don’t allow the sadness to swallow you, Kyra. Don’t allow the hope to drain from you. It was hard won, profoundly earned, thoughtfully given. Don’t feed him with your tears.

That leaves me without emotion. This is a world without passion, color, sound. I am seeking the music, yearning for warmth, and finding little.

Words sprinkle in from here and there. My husband, God bless him, has done everything he can while keeping his own anguish and sadness in check. And we, two people who love each other despite the history of it all…. we have looked at our sons with wide eyes: these two will inherit the beauty of American history gone right and, unfortunately, even the loving and thoughtful nature of their creation cannot erase the deep darkness of centuries of conflict between their two ancestries. I cannot shield them from this pain because I must teach them this history.

Not today. Not tomorrow. But a day soon coming.

There are just so many more tears to be shed.

I want to crawl back into my bed in my most comfortable clothing, pull over the covers and let the world fall away from me. For days. Maybe weeks. I want it all to go away. But I can’t, because I have two sons who don’t understand that evil exists in the world. They understand that they want to wear their favorite pajamas to bed tonight. They know that they are hungry for a snack. They know that they have friends who they want to play with. They know that the sun is shining and they want to frolic under its rays.

So I get up.

And I pray.

And I listen to the heartache, but I also hear the calls for peace, for love, and for forgiveness. As a Christian (or a trying-to-be-better-Christian) I’ve been called to love first and above all, and forgiveness comes with that love. If you love, you forgive. If you forgive, then you love. And you must love, because Christ says that this is the singular most important thing that we must do. We love. We forgive. We grow.

I am having a hard time. I am having a hard time loving a place that clearly doesn’t love me: doesn’t love who I am, my history, how I look, how I speak, what I aspire to become and how I aspire to get there. This is a place and time that has declared an unabashed and unwavering dislike of my likeness.

I am having a hard time forgiving a place that doesn’t forgive me. It doesn’t seem to forgive me for looking different, feeling different, acting different, speaking different. This is a place and time that can rush to judgement so quickly as to physically endanger me for simply being.

I am having a hard time growing. I don’t know what the expectation is anymore. I don’t have comforting words for myself or for others. I can only look on, at this point, with astonishment.

And yet

I will.

I will love. I will bake bread and break it with whomever will share it with me, even those whom I disagree with. I will keep my farmhouse door open, my table clear and welcoming, my arms open as wide as I can spread them. I will continue to love my country, with its complicated history, and I will always treat it like it’s the only one I’ve got. Because it is. I can’t go anywhere because this is my home. So I dedicate myself to make it better. One word, act of kindness, or act of service at a time.

I will forgive. Because I listened to members of the families of the nine victims in South Carolina say with breaking hearts “I forgive you.” If they can, raw and grieving as they are, then so can I. I can forgive those who chose to hate me. I can forgive those who chose to scare me.

I will grow. Because history has shown that violence against my community does not break it. Violence against my community only makes it larger, stronger, with more resolve and better strategies. Violence against us brings us allies, and those allies only propel us forward in our cause. I will grow because I know that my growth does something for me, for my sons, and for those who love us: Black or White or any other color on the spectrum. I will grow because I’m loved far more profoundly by incredibly important people than I could possibly be hated by anonymous and cowardly groups or individuals. Nothing can change that.

And so are you, dear reader. You are loved. I hope you choose to love and forgive, too. I hope you will break bread, open your door, clear your table, and spread your arms wide open in welcome. If you pray, I hope you’ll do so. If you have money, I hope you’ll give some. If you hear hate around you, I hope you won’t abide by it. I hope you speak powerfully when called to do so. I hope you grow if you have the opportunity to. Honor those who died by living your life in peace, dear reader.

Until Monday, Dear Reader, walk in love and take care.

25 Replies to “[Quiet Thoughts] Grief Again”

  1. I grew up in ‘troubled’ Belfast. I knew bombs and punishment shootings. I left.

    I have never been to America. I no longer wish to go there. These atrocities are terrorist attacks, crimes against people who are not given the constitutional rights they are entitled to.

    As a women I would feel vulnerable. As a person of colour I cannot imagine your pain.

    I know from reading your blog that you love your country. As an outsider, I struggle to understand why.

    1. I read this last week and felt so sad about it. I felt bad that I’d so soured this place for you. I read it now a week later with better understanding, but still a sadness. We’re so much better than the atrocities that keep happening. I realize that we do them to ourselves because we seem to be a people who can’t learn their lessons, can’t seem to figure out how to take and decisive action… but we are so much better than this nonsense. We’re a good people and this is a great country.

      I do love my country. I don’t know what else to do. It’s my home, the only home I’ve ever known and, like a very bad American, I’ve only left the country 4 times: for a vacation to the Bahamas, a honeymoon in the Dominican Republic, and 2 anniversary trips to Canada. The world is beautiful and amazing, and there are fantastic people in every corner of it. Lord, how I want to visit so much more. But my heart is here. I believe in the experiment and I have faith that it works.

      Even when there are setbacks.

      Even when those setbacks break my heart.

      We’re better than our worst moments. Our strengths and triumphs come from the quiet, private, personal victories, the little corners where the big things are happening. I hope you visit us and go to the places where it isn’t a tourist trap, but a real community with real people. The way we see the world, the way we dream about it and manipulate it… it’s wonderful. I’m proud of who we are and our potential. We can be the people we espouse to be. I hope you visit us someday and see what I see. Because we’re better than this. We’re better than these moments. We’re better than the lessons we are too damn stubborn to learn.

      1. Oh K, you did not sour the place for me. You wept with sadness that a few could do these awful things, that more can think as they do. I look at America through the eyes of a foreigner who reads snapshots: of a women stopped at two airports and accused of being a prostitute for not being married yet carrying contraception; of a women being forced to move state because they are pregnant and the father of the child, married to another, demands access; of all the killings yet no progress on tighter gun control.

        I know here are many, many good people. It is the perception that the law does not protect equally that makes me think twice about visiting. That and the difficulties of entering the country because of the ‘protection against terrorist’ checks at airports. It does not feel welcoming. It does not feel safe.

        When I saw you thank those who responded to your eloquent post in a way that lifted your spirits I felt bad for my negativity. I am sorry if I brought you down even a little.

          1. Augh, this article hurt to read. 🙁 But it’s true, and I totally understand it. I’m having such mixed feelings about everything. Especially now, which is the 4th of July, when we’re all high-fiving and chest-thumping. I’m going to write about this on Friday.

            But then I always come back to the fundamental truth: this is my home. It’s the only one I’ve got. There are plenty of other places to be where they won’t love me any more, won’t treat me any better, won’t give me any more opportunities…

            So… what else is there to do but to love, try, and triumph?

  2. Don’t give up your struggle! I care! I share your pain and will gladly will work with you to help the madness stop. Let’s join hands in our communities and look into each other’s hearts. Reblogging on Nutsrok.

    1. Thank you so much! And thank you for visiting my blog! I wish that it had been for less tearful and troubling reasons, but I’m glad that you are here!

      I’m so grateful that it seems like more communities are doing just as you say: joining hands, looking at each other and seeing the humanity in us all. We’re all in this together, whatever this is. Through the pain and the anger comes renewed efforts for partnership, collaboration and understanding. That’s the best that anyone can ask for right now. My heart is still heavy, even a week later, but I see the hands joining together and that lightens the load.

  3. Much love, respect, and admiration to you! As a person of colour I can only feel a portion of the frustration you and your family (blood and otherwise) must feel, and feel again, every time you hear of something like this happening. All I can offer is my hand in solidarity, and I hope that for now it’s enough.

    1. Thank you so much for this kindness and understanding. Every little bit helps, and I’ve been so uplifted by the support from near and far. The best that we can do for each other is to reach out just like this. So thank you, it’s really appreciated. And thank you for stopping by my blog. I hope you will visit again soon.

    1. I do not have an easy answer to this question. My drumbeat to carry on comes through my sons, who require me to remain functional, hopeful, and looking toward the future daily. I can’t keep looking over my shoulder, or seeing evil in the faces of people in my community. My job is to seek the horizon on their behalf, because they don’t need to know that there is evil in the world. That’s my how… for whatever it’s worth.

    1. This is a huge question. The answer isn’t simple and my knee-jerk reaction is, “we can’t!” And maybe that knee-jerk answer is the truth. But if we close ourselves off to other people and their problems, we’ll just eat ourselves, won’t we? I hope you’ll visit my blog again in the future and help me tease out an answer. 🙂

    1. This note brought me to tears last week when I read it the first time. I am grateful beyond measure because it said so much and what I really needed. It DID bring me comfort, so thank you. I feel bad: I’m not a victim. This isn’t my tragedy. Yet, I’m so grateful that you and people like you read my little post and felt compelled to say hello and share a little piece of yourself and your moment in time with me. Thank you. It means the world to me. I feel a lot better today than I did when I wrote this post, thanks to you! I hope you’ll visit my blog again soon!

    1. Thank you for reblogging my post, Rochelle, and for your support, as usual! What a crazy 7 days. What an insane 18 months. But still, we rise. I’m still here. I’m still seeking the horizon.

  4. “And we, two people who love each other despite the history of it all.” I got chills when I read this line and so many others. Thank you for expressing so eloquently, what I haven’t been able to even process. The sheer exhaustion of it all. The feeling that my few words won’t make a difference. The barely contained rage boiling just beneath the surface. And below that the overwhelming sadness that I live in such a time as this.

    1. It has been an incredible 18 months. To watch what seems like a slow and deliberate dismantling of our rights and our humanity as a community, knowing how utterly hard-won those things were to obtain… it’s been intense and bewildering and demoralizing. It has been all that and more. Despite the words that I have written above, I don’t quite have the mastery of words to fully express the depth of my sorrow and frustration. I wish I did. It just doesn’t feel like there are enough words in this language or any others to get down to the deep, deep… and maybe I don’t want/need to go there anyway…
      But I’m grateful that you are here, to read my words, to share a few of your own. I wish I could convey comfort instead of my own fears and sorrow to you. Hopefully time and more writing will heal. Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope that you will return again soon.

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