Family Values

“I’m so sorry for your loss.” “Thank you, I really appreciate it… But I know this is exactly where she would want me to be.”

Sometimes statements like that slip out. Statements you know to be true deep in your bones, but don’t fully recognize until hearing yourself say them aloud.

Two young black women were consoling me at a solidarity protest after the recent events at Mizzou highlighting racial inequity. They are both people I deeply admire and frequently see at the forefront of such actions, pushing for justice in all forms. Amidst the heated atmosphere after the largest demonstration I’ve ever seen on our campus, they looked to support me while I grieved the recent loss of my grandmother. As individuals and as a community, the day reminded me that we are always capable of loving more.

That was my grandma’s attitude. There was always room for more people at her table. The tight knit Portuguese community she grew up with was expanded to include everyone she met, even as she traveled the globe for my grandfather’s military service. I suppose this is my way of continuing her legacy of love and family, this patchwork of interpersonal relationships built on shared commitment to growth and justice. It’s all the same. We act out of love. We redefine family.

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Originally published at on November 28, 2015.

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