I Had a Dream About Oprah Winfrey
And she was writing a book I would love to read
I rarely dream about celebrities. It is a rare occurrence, and in order for it to take place, I would have had to watch a movie or read a book about that person right before going to sleep. And I certainly have never dreamed about the incomparable Oprah Winfrey before; the woman whose net worth is 2.5 billion dollars.
The dream I had early Sunday morning on September 11, 2022, struck me as peculiar, yet intriguing. I was in a dark room and the only area with an inkling of light was the small space where Oprah sat.
She wore her famous square-rimmed, flashy glasses, her hair was pulled up into a neat bun, and she donned a white blouse and brown slacks. She was shouting, “I am writing my book in Chicago about the children I never had, and I will need my fucking space!”
It echoed throughout the room. I simply stood there in awe. I could not move. Both my body and mind knew exactly what was taking place. I was in the company of one of the most influential Black women who was shouting repeatedly at the top of her lungs about a book she would need space to write, and I could not move.
There aren’t usually smells in my dreams, but in this one, I could smell a sweet and earthy scent. It was welcoming — a scent that provided safety and peace. Could it have been a signature perfume of her choice wafting from Oprah’s body? I don’t know.
I just knew that there I was, watching one of the most beloved women in the world declare frantically of the book she was writing. And it was both painful and motivating to witness.
Oprah does not have children and neither do I
Why did I have this dream? What does it mean? I do not fancy myself as someone who analyzes dreams. I simply try to understand them in my own way. Of late, I have had my share of weird ones, though, and this one is no different.
Oprah Winfrey does not have children. She has been open about this in many of her interviews and speaks about it candidly without regret. Her career path did not have room for the time, support, nurturing, and care she would have needed to allow for children, so she passed on that opportunity.
She endured giving birth at 14 years old to a baby boy who was the product of familial rape from an older cousin. The baby died after just two weeks.
I think about what she must have lived through — how she had to cement herself — become hard enough to keep moving, and I tear up.
I realized, ‘Whoa, I’m talking to a lot of messed-up people, and they are messed up because they had mothers and fathers who were not aware of how serious that job is.’ I don’t have the ability to compartmentalize the way I see other women do. It is why, throughout my years, I have had the highest regard for women who choose to be at home [with] their kids, because I don’t know how you do that all day long, Nobody gives women the credit they deserve. — Oprah Winfrey
I do not have children. Not for the same reasons as Oprah, but my reasons are also valid enough for me. I have always had an incredible fear of not being able to love my children how I would need to or losing myself enough to forget my past and not burden my children with my baggage.
I also found out in my early 30s that it would be difficult for me to have children naturally, so I did not take that risk. Not to mention, I have yet to have a partner worthy enough in my eyes to share such a responsibility as parenting.
“I am writing my book in Chicago about the children I never had, and I will need my fucking space!”
I have watched many women give their all to their children — love them unconditionally — lift them up where they have faltered; teach them right from wrong, and these same children grow up to leave their mothers crying senselessly about the choices they are making or have made.
How much of it is nurture? How much of it is nature? One can never know who or what their children will become until it has happened. That is a weight too heavy for me to carry.
And there was music and tears and nervousness too
I am no stranger to music in my dreams. Music seems to be the way I love — the way I lean into life when everything else becomes too tough to tackle. I speak using music and the world around me silences itself to hear me.
The song that played in my dream was Maze featuring Frankie Beverly’s “We Are One.” It repeated the following lyrics:
Sometimes I feel
That we try and make each other sad
(I don’t know why)
The things we do
How we make each other feel so bad
We’ve got so much
We could all be having so much fun
This song sends me to a space and time that is both nostalgic and a sad reminder of my past. My mother’s family always had these wild cookouts and family gatherings. I say wild because there would inevitably be an argument, an altercation, and someone or more than one person would head home in tears or angered by the day’s events.
Her family frightened me. So much anger. So much intensity. And oddly enough, amongst the pain, so much love, too.
Funny how the mind works, huh? To have this song on repeat in a dream reflected around the non-existence of children, Oprah Winfrey, and me as the voyeur — there’s more here, I know it.
I try to dig a little deeper. A fellow writer left a comment for me after we’d been conversing regarding my most recent article in An Injustice Mag, stating, “Exactly my point, leave their table for yours. In fact, write a book about the hypocrisy you face to become a writer. Be the change you want to see. Prove them wrong and exceed their limitations.”
His suggestion sent my mind swirling, and several moments of creativity flashed before my eyes. I can do what he is suggesting.
In the dream, I was nervous. I have yet to figure out if it was because I had been standing in the presence of the great Oprah Winfrey or if it was because of all the things I have lined up for me in the coming months. I am excited. I am full of fear. But it all will be worth it in the end.
I have always had an incredible fear of not being able to love my children how I would need to or losing myself enough to forget my past and not burden my children with my baggage.
And there were tears from both me and Oprah. With Oprah’s frantic shouting, came free-flowing tears that streamed down her face gently. Her declaration hadn’t bothered her. Her voice bull-horned without the bullhorn. Everyone, I am certain, who was anyone, could hear her.
I cried. Watching her in this intense state shout about needing the space to write about the children she never had, moved me — both in the dream and when I woke up.
The truth is in the details
We miss, sometimes, what we never had. And perhaps, that’s our link in this dream — knowing we have not and want not, but we sometimes regret it, even if we tell ourselves we don’t.
The truth is always in the details if we’re willing to plow through the dirt of us and retrieve a cleansing state.
I had a dream about Oprah Winfrey, and she had been writing about the children she never had while I stood there as a witness, which led to me thinking about the children I never had. Maybe it is a coincidence, this dream. Maybe there is nothing there and nothing I need to search for within it.
But I would love to read that book.
Originally published in The Narrative Collective via Medium.
ode to being young
an oversized sweatshirt becomes
a playground–fun mornings
back to back.
big smiles are welcome mats
and seeking arms want
nothing more than to
embrace a body bigger than
the one they’re attached to;
for comfort–for safety.
a rough night is instantly
replaced with a morning
drenched in surprises
and covered with chocolate
chip pancakes–so much syrup,
no one says, “When!” to stop
a day of outside fun turns
into weeks of delightful events.
all that’s missing is
the contract to sign to
do this over and over and
The Love Button
Lalina held up her new button proudly and shoved it in her big sister’s face. “Look what I got, Ndia! Auntie bought it for me today at the festival. You should have come. They had basketballs for sale.” Lalina’s older sister loved basketball — she would try out for her school’s junior varsity team in two weeks. Knowing this, Lalina did everything she could to make her sister feel bad about not coming with them to the festival. After all, isn’t this what a seven-year-old sister did?
“I don’t care about that festival, Lali. I had some rounds to do and layups and sprints. While you and Auntie were at the festival, I got those done. What else did you get besides some old tired button?”
Lalina adored her button. It said exactly what she felt everyone should do in life — “Do What You Love”. It amplified her feelings about swimming and ice skating. While her sister loved playing basketball, she had a gentler touch regarding sports. She wanted the button for their mother, who had been working double shifts for two months; an almost feeble attempt at making ends meet for the three of them.
“The button’s for Ma-mah, Ndia. She works so hard. She’s always tired. The button is for her. I don’t think she loves what she’s doing. I think she just has to — for us.”
The pressing thickness of the air between the two sisters got thicker. Ndia knew her kid sister had a big heart, but this moved her to a place she hadn’t connected with in a few years. After their parents’ divorce, the thirteen-year-old rebelled — fighting her mother’s rules and constantly bringing up their father’s absence. It wasn’t a peaceful time for any of them, but Ndia was a “Daddy’s Girl”, and everyone knew it.
“I’m sorry, Lali. That’s really sweet of you. Ma-mah will love it. She will. You’re a good kid, Lali.”
Melba plopped her beaten body onto the faux leather couch. She let out an exasperated sigh and kicked her right leg onto the couch’s head. She was just about to lasso sleep into her world when her youngest appeared before her weary eyes.
“Ma-mah, look what I got you!” Lalina flashed the button in front of her mom and waved it from side to side as if she was displaying the finest item one could ever lay their eyes upon. “Look what I got, Ma-mah!” Melba raised herself up on her elbows and steadied her shaky frame. She blinked twice before tears filled her eyes.
“What’s this you have here, Lali? Where’d you get this?” The tears filled again as soon as she wiped them — she had been overcome with so much emotion and overwhelmed by her baby girl’s gesture.
“It’s a Do What You Love button, Ma-mah! Auntie bought it for me at the festival so I could give it to you. Do you like it? I think you should do what you love, Ma-mah. You’re never happy. I can tell. And you’re always tired.”
Melba sighed a heavy sigh, wiped the spittle from her lips, and pulled her youngest daughter into the tightest bear hug her exhausted frame could muster up. She held on for what seemed like hours. Then she pushed Lalina in front of her gently and gave her little pajama’d body a thorough review.
“Lalina, what a sweet girl you are. Thank you, baby. Thank you so much. I will wear this every single day, okay? I will.”
She hugged her again, wiped the salty tears from her eyes, and patted Lalina’s head.
“I just want you to do what you love, Ma-mah.” And without missing a beat, Melba whispered into her youngest child’s ear, “I am, baby. I am.”
©2022 Tremaine L. Loadholt
Originally published via Simily.
We Are the Village
And we must protect it
I live on the third floor of a building with old, young, and the in-between gathered up to call this place our home. A neighbor of mine, who lives on the first floor, has three children — all under the age of five. She has been blessed with two handsome little boys and a precocious little girl with big, bright gray-green eyes. I know all of them. I’ve watched the boys grow over the last two years and while the oldest has calmed down, the middle son is still hyperactive, escapes his mother’s grip, and makes the area in front and behind our building his hiding places.
I have seen her chase after him with the youngest bouncing gingerly on her hip and the oldest advancing toward her van, attempting to open it as if he has no patience for his younger brother’s shenanigans. I have watched her load them all into the vehicle on her own, with a lovely smile plastered across her face as I yell out, “Hey there! Y’all good?”
She always responds with, “Morning. Yes, ma’am. Have a great day.” She doesn’t ask for help, doesn’t look for it, but I am a part of this village, so I help when I see the seams tearing. She has my attention.
On a cold winter’s day, with snow falling down in thick, beautiful flakes, I was coming up the stairs leading to the front of our building to gain access to the street. My morning and afternoon walk with my dog is when I see her most. She had the youngest on her hip, had already strapped the oldest in his car seat, and was calling out to the middle son to direct his little body to where she and his siblings had been.
Undeterred and happy to dance around in the snow, running from one end of the length of our building to the other, I called to him — he ran to me. With Jernee scooped up and carefully placed in my left arm, I guided him toward his mom. He is not vocal — not by much. He utters a few words here and there but is still developing his voice in this world. His energy, though, is undeniably sound. My mother would venture to call him mischievous — not bad, but curious and willing to test the waters.
Their lives are orchestrated by her.
I used to say to myself when I saw her, “She has her hands full.” But I realized after more time looking out for all four of them when they’re outside and I am approaching — she will direct the oldest to get the youngest while she chases after the middle son, and does it all in stride.
This is a never-ending job, one she has perfected. You may read this and wonder, “Where is the father?” When they first moved in, it was her, the two boys, and her boyfriend (their father). This is a quiet space and his presence was certainly heard. Whatever their reasons, they split up, but he comes to get his children or she takes them to him like clockwork every other week.
They’re making it work.
At first, when the young man left, I noticed how hard it was for her. With only the boys to look after, she would have them up, fed, dressed, and ready to venture out for their day. As her belly began to mound, chasing after the two of them was not a task, I could tell, she wanted to endure.
As the eldest of seven, with five brothers and a younger sister, I know the exhaustion of running behind and attempting to catch toddlers. It’s not something I wanted to do much of when I was younger and I was just their sister. I cannot imagine attempting to gather the energy while with-child to corral two quick little ones to do what you need them to do.
She did it, though — day after day.
As time passed, I noticed a pattern — a design, or rather a life-plan for her as she raises her children. The oldest is now four and runs to me to say a quick “Hello” or to dote on my dog, Jernee. He is better at helping with the younger ones and has his “listening ears” on most days now. The middle son still carries on without a care in this world, but I can tell he is protective of his younger sister, who is walking now and getting into everything. She has a fear of dogs, so she waves shyly in my direction if Jernee is in tow. However, when I am alone, she races toward me to hug me at my knees.
She is instilling in her children proper manners, love, empathy, protection of one another, and endurance. This has all been orchestrated by her, and it is working. The beauty of watching its progress is not beyond me — I get to witness it daily upon my interactions with them.
This is my village, and I will protect it.
Being the unit that we are here in this building and in much of my neighborhood, we look out for each other. My neighbor, upon unloading the kids and groceries from the van one night, dropped her debit card and receipt onto the pavement leading up to our building. I spotted it that night while walking Jernee. I rapped at her door. The young man (the children’s father) answered as he was caring for them while she was away. I let him know where I found it and he gave it to her when she returned later that night.
Recently, she thought she’d dropped her keys on the ground after getting them all settled inside one night before a heavy snowfall. The next morning, with the iced-over inches of snow covering our breezeways and every inch of grass in front of our building, she stated to me, “I think I dropped my keys out here. This is going to be a mess to get through.”
Envisioning her out there trying to dig through the hardened snow with her gloves, overcoat, and body triple-layered in warm clothing, I said to her, “If you can’t find them, let me know.” I was racing to get back upstairs to start my workday, but all I could think about was her finding those keys.
That evening after work, I saw her coming toward the building and asked after the keys to which she responded, “Oh my goodness! They were in my purse the whole time!”
We laughed and I said to her, “Thank goodness, because I was going to come back down here with the shovel and we were just going to dig for them.” I have no doubt, if she could, she’d do the same for me.
The village is supposed to rise up and make sure everyone has what they need. It is supposed to provide care, comfort, love, and discipline (whenever necessary) to ensure each of us can endure. It is not within me to stand idly by when my neighbors need help — never has been. I hope to get to see two more years of these little ones growing up before I leave this apartment complex. And until then, this is my village — I must protect it.
Shouldn’t we all do the same?
Originally published in Age of Empathy via Medium.
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