I’ve been waiting twenty years for this, the point where it becomes my turn. You don’t have ninety-five percent of your family succumb to cancer without counting the moments until their fate becomes yours. Yet, here I sit, watching the wind blow through freshly cut grass. Marveling at the various hues of green as the late afternoon sun travels across the blades. And I wonder, why haven’t I ever stopped long enough to notice it before?
But don’t worry, this isn’t my magnum opus or some Last Lecture. It’s just me at a turning point in my life waiting to find out which way the road will take me. Nothing prepares you for this moment. There’s no book to tell you how to appreciate your life more while you still have it. No, How To article to help me navigate the in-between time where I’m still healthy and ignorant. I have two choices, false alarm or the uncertainty of illness, but no matter which it turns out to be, I don’t want to squander these moments. …
The dearest of dreams
Bring you back to me
Even asleep my mind registers
The effect you’ve always had
Over the way my heart stops
Then restarts in staggered rhythms
The moment my eyes open
I’m left with the remnants
Those pieces of the past
I refuse to part with
The cadence in your voice
The feel of your hand
All the things that make you
My life went on
In spite of you
Because of you
The cloud that hangs over me
The dark spot on the photograph
On the life I enjoy
The reflection halted
Just as errantly as you entered
My subconscious leaves you behind
With a future self
Not yet known
But close enough
That if our hands were to touch
That contrived hallucination
Might become the reality I always wanted
But in the end
After the funeral, after life reschedules itself around your grief and you have no choice but to move along with the passage of time. That’s when grief finds you. The initial shock wears off. The Band-Aid of loss ripped clean from raw flesh so that all that’s left is just you, laid bare for everyone to see. That’s when the real grieving begins.
I never had the chance to grieve properly. My grandmother’s passing was followed two scant weeks later by her son’s. …
Seven months and the people are tired. They want their lives back. You know the ones they always complained about on Facebook. They want to be able to go back to the gyms that they only go to the first month of the year because they resolved to lose weight and get healthy. But mostly they want to be able to do whatever they want when they want. I never thought I could be embarrassed by my fellow countrymen and women, but I am.
But I’ve got a newsflash for you. The Pandemic is not over.
As of the writing of this piece, we’ve had almost one hundred and eighty-five thousand (185,000) deaths, according to Johns Hopkins. Since everyone likes to tout comparisons to the flu, according to the CDC, there were sixty-two thousand (62,000) deaths last year. If you were sick with the flu on that day, your teacher taught you what number is bigger. It’s 185,000. …
What is it like to lose your memories?
To wake up each day knowing
That a piece of myself from the day before
Is no longer
But not knowing that it was lost
Like a toy from childhood tossed away
Forgotten because it’s out of sight
My thoughts drip like water through uncupped hands
Leaking into the void
To that part of my brain where
Nothing stays put long enough to turn into
A thought process that leads to anywhere
My train runs out of steam
And all those great ideas
I became old too young
My vocabulary of words learned
Throughout one lifetime
Lost just as easily
Upon its decline
The mere distraction of a sound
And another something is…
A version of this essay previously appeared in Assemblage.
I’m bombarded. It doesn’t matter if it’s TikTok, Facebook, Hulu, Amazon Prime, or even my neighborhood, there is always something to remind me about the social unrest in this country. As if I needed a reminder. I’ve been Black for 41 years and have been dealing with racism since I was 10. It’s not a new thing, it’s been my life, so please excuse me, but I’d like to tap out. I don’t want to be the spokesperson for the entire Black community. …
It took turning forty to get fed up with my life. It was slowly brewing for years. I had watched my friends graduate, add on more degrees, and have fantastic careers. During that time, I started raising a family and memorized the words to all the songs from The Backyardigans. As my little people grew up, I became more dissatisfied with my life and often felt myself wondering what might have been if I had made different decisions.
But you can’t change the past, no matter how much I wish I could.
I often feel guilty for not loving my life because I’ve been so blessed. My children are healthy and my spouse makes a comfortable living. But I want to do something with my life other than raise children. If that’s the sum of my existence, then what was the point of going to college or getting a Master’s degree? …
I shouldn’t do this.
That’s what that little guy that sits on your shoulder would have told me had he been there that night. But that guy was nowhere to be found. Now if I was with a girl and she was a little over inebriated, he would have been screaming at me just to go home. But tonight, on all of the nights in my life where I needed that rat bastard the most, he decided to go on sabbatical.
Sitting in Henry’s old Dodge truck, I knew what I was doing was wrong. I went over it in my mind a dozen times there in that parking lot behind the Star Mart. …
There are still a lot of us left, but it’s rare for us to see each other. It’s not that there are towns with a population of three. We just can’t come out until our designated day and time. Doing things this way keeps us safe, so we don’t get sick.
“I’m hoping the weather holds out for tomorrow,” my father, Harry says as he sits beside me on the rattan lawn chair.
I didn’t want to think about tomorrow. All of the preparation just to go out and get what items we need to keep us alive and our household running for the next month made me dizzy. …
The big chop, that’s what Black women call it when you cut your hair down to its natural state. For some, that can mean going bald, but I grew my natural hair out for about six months before I cut away my shoulder length relaxed hair.
I had tried it before unsuccessfully. After a month, I gave in to the European ideals that said my natural hair was unruly, unprofessional, and not pretty. I had chemically straightened my hair for so long that I had no idea what my natural hair texture was.
I looked to my daughter as my frame of reference. Our textures are quite different. The gorgeous ringlets that cascade down her back are evidence of her African heritage, but the silky smooth texture clearly shows off her mixed lineage. I knew I was going to fall somewhere on the spectrum of her hair and the most tightly coiled and fluffy hair that I could imagine. But it would take at least half a year before I would know the truth of what I was dealing with. …