Every Day A Funeral
Last night I was crying for Terence Crutcher. I’d spent most of the day trying not to, trying to keep the image of the father of four being murdered in the street simply for asking for help from knocking me off of my feet. Just as I’d tried to do after they killed Tyre King a few days earlier. Just as I’ve tried to do so many countless days this year, and last, and before that.
This week I’ve been flooded with messages of hate for calling out White Supremacy. Two days ago I received an anonymous email with an image of the hanged bodies of black men. The text simply read, “Trump 2016.”
The hate, the threats, the horrific images being sent to me day in and day out this past week raised my stress level, but not by much. This has all happened before. And I honestly do not have the ability to fall apart at images of our past trauma — I don’t have the capacity. Because what is tearing me apart, what will completely undo me one day if I can’t win this battle, is the horror of now. Our babies, our brothers, our husbands, wives, and fathers — they are lying in the streets now and society doesn’t care. I’m not saying that nobody gets sad, that nobody sheds a tear — but when people care, when a society cares, things change. But right now society cares more about whether or not our athletes will stand for a song.
I’d almost made it through the entirety of yesterday. I could feel the grief deep down, it was keeping me from writing and working. My avoidance of the pain was keeping me away from the areas of my brain that are too conscious. But around 9 p.m., my body opened up and grief hit me like a silent wave. I closed my eyes and tears fell and I could feel the heartbreak and fear and anger. I didn’t wail or throw things; my two sons were in the other room playing and I want them to stay young as long as they can. So I did what I always do — I sat and I cried for another one of our precious lights extinguished, and I pledged to wake up in the morning and continue to fight.
I’ve done this more nights than I can count. It feel like I’ve done this more nights than not. If it were for any other reason, it would be a sure sign of serious depression — four years of crying. But I know what my depression feels like — when you are crying over nothing and numb for everything — and this isn’t it. This is mourning, it’s a mourning for every one of my lost brothers and sisters. Every day a funeral.
And I don’t know how long I can survive this — I don’t know how long any of us can. Because I see this same sadness and weariness in so many of my brothers and sisters, those of us left behind. I don’t know how many more funerals we can hold without dying ourselves. Because if it’s not the cop with the gun anymore, it’s the constant grief and fear — or maybe one day we’ll just break and won’t feel anything anymore. No matter what, there’s a death.
And I could try to insulate myself from it all. I could avoid the news, stay off social media. I could keep my conversations light and pithy and hope that when my time comes I can’t see it coming. But I would have to insulate myself from my people in order to do so, and then where would I be?
We don’t have wealth, we don’t have power, we don’t have status, we don’t have safety. All we have is each other, and we are being taken from each other one by one. And we grieve each loss because we love each person — and my black brothers and sisters: I love you so very much.
I love your strength and your ingenuity and your bravery and your generosity. I love your humor and your talent and your beauty. I love you all, and every day I love you more. Every day my capacity for love and grief increases. And I do not know if we’ll make it through this, I really don’t. But I know that every day that I’m here you will have me and we will pick each other up and fight together and if you fall, you will be mourned with a fierceness that only family can provide.
We are all we have.
Lead image: flickr/Don LaVange