I Haven’t Forgotten You

You’re All I Think About

Kids by delfi de la Rua via Unsplash

I wonder who has told you. If you know. If you’ve always known. If you want to know. I think about the right moment to say something, casually bring it up, but there’s nothing casual about coming out — again. I know you should hear it from me, but I am dragging my feet as it has been hard getting them from up under me — I have been sitting on them for too long. You should have known years ago or at least, in October when I told our brothers or when our father called and I confirmed what he already knew in January. Every time I dance around the subject of repeating those words again and this time, to you, I get an ache in my heart. My eyes water. My soul screams.

Everything in me stops.

I see you, but not the woman you are now, more like the infant-to-toddler that you were years ago and I want to hold you close and sing “You are my sunshine” until my throat becomes sore. I suspect that the task has been completed by someone else and you were not given the opportunity to hear me — see me as I spoke those words to you. I hope it hasn’t. I hope I still have time. I tend to sit on precious things, cover them up, then release them when everyone has stopped worrying about the potential harm they can cause. It has always been easiest for me, this method. I am learning to not lean into fear or hide behind it as much as I used to.

You don’t seem to have this issue, but then again, I have only watched you grow up from a distance. Much of my teenage to early adult life was lived before you even began to figure out things on your own. That’s what a nineteen-year gap does to sisters. It pushes them apart without either one knowing it is happening. I can call. I can text. I can pop up at important events. I can do all of this on a whim simply because you ask for my presence, but I can’t even tell you what presses on me more than anything.

I live with the thought of you daily. . . If you’re safe. If you’re learning how to maneuver through life and in the world without someone holding your hand. If your third year of college, now that you’re experiencing it, will strengthen you as much as mine did. You are strong, this is undeniable, but you have been sheltered. If I tell you, will you break? If I don’t, will you do so even more?

Bible, book, faith, and Psalm by Aaron Burden via Unsplash

“Truly, my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.” Psalms 62, 1–2 NKJV

I have missed about twenty Sundays in a row. To sit and count them, to think that my body hasn’t met a pew in over three months, causes me distress, but every time I tell myself that I am going to get it in gear, Sunday arrives, and I sleep in longer than planned. I find peace at my church — strength. I feel what I need to and when I need to there, but my body won’t let me move. My heart won’t, either. I have no idea why. You checked on me first thing in the morning, the other day — said you could not start your day without sending me a note. I missed it. Nearly most of my day went by before seeing your message and by that time, I let the toll of my workday cost me change.

I shared with you my emotions, how I’d been in and out of crying fits, how I am in therapy. This concerned you. You instantly began to worry. You wanted to call me and these days, I don’t welcome phone conversations like I used to. I told you that I was okay, that I’d be fine, I’d only answered your question. I wonder if being too upfront with you will cause you pain or sadness. But, I am growing and learning that I can no longer bite my tongue or hold in what needs to be said based on what the other person may feel when my feelings are expressed. I cannot control the emotions of others. I can only move forward when I feel it’s best to.

There is time. There will be time. I feel that it is nearing. I’d much rather the opportunity to sit you down in my favorite coffee spot, buy your drink and danish of choice, and talk — really talk. I want to sit and be with you, big sister to little sister and spill out what we need to. There are things you have always wanted to share with me and I have things I need to share with you, but distance is our enemy. It won’t be for long. I write. It’s what I do and I have written you a letter. You can sit with my words and I can come out again without even opening my mouth to tell you in person.

After all, when will I ever get the chance?


Originally published in Other Doors via Medium.

Your Labor Day Smile

Caison thinks he’s a big boy. He even put my slides on the right feet, no help from anyone. The kid is growing up far too fast.

 

He’s also into taking out all of his toys at once and not playing with any, in particular, he just likes to show me that he can do it. Then, we practice putting all of them up again and guess what he does? You got it! He takes them all out again and smiles or laughs while he does it. And since I am a big kid, I laugh or smile along with him. Good times. Nothing but good times.

Here’s hoping this day has been a labor of love for each of you.

Peace and blessings.

Dreamy-eyed Boy

An Experiment Audio Poem

MUSICAL SELECTION: ABBOT KINNEY AND THE LIGHTHOUSE CHOIR|TROUBLE OF THIS WORLD

Caison in the sun|Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

Dear Dreamy-eyed Boy,
promise me you won’t
let them pull you into their black holes — 
their secret places of regret

I need you stronger than the masses
of clicking tongues and forceful hands
under white robes and covered heads
trained to track you, shoot you,
and string your lifeless body up a tree
whose breath still beats in 
urban forests

I want to remember this smile — 
this innocent smile that overpowers me
whenever I see it
and I want the world to be
just as mesmerized with it too

They’re coming for you, they are trying — 
their methods are failing, but
they are in constant motion in
devising plans to take us out and
I don’t want to live in fear of losing you

You have so much life to live
the sun has not had its time 
on the bridge of your nose
the sky is seeking refuge under your arms
and I still need decades multiplied by three
before I can even begin to be satisfied 
with my love for you

Dear Dreamy-eyed Boy,
hold on — 
our help never fails us and 
when the time comes
we will be remembered in 
seasons throughout the years
our smiling mouths opened to
the sea’s stirred pots

We will sop them up with
buttery biscuits, wipe their
remnants on our plates,
and pray for their souls


*Author’s Note: Right at about “refuge,” I got a little choked up.I thought of stopping and beginning the audio again, but listened to it and felt that I should leave it.It seems to be the perfect flaw in a good spot of the poem.


Originally published in The Junction via Medium.

Not Like Fathers

You Are Halves of Our Whole

To you, the fathers… It is often hard, I assume, to stand in the shadows of mothers as they take the glory of it all, and in most cases, rightfully so, but you… you wait patiently with no other means of celebration other than the one day designated where you may receive a few hugs, some decent gifts, a day out to your favorite restaurant, then time well-spent in your recliner. This is for you. Those yet still fathering, still yearning to love as they look at eyes that look back at them — identical in shape and color.

To you, fathers who stand beside their children, fighting for their rights in all things life-oriented, ensuring safety and love. To you, those of you afraid to reach out to take the hands of yours who have soared too high in the sky for you to be able to reach them and bring them back down to Earth. Fathers of prodigal sons and daughter still counting the days of their return; I offer you recognition and sincere adoration.

You are the halves of our whole and without you, there could be no us. Those of you trying harder than anyone can imagine and more than anyone can see, I tip my hat to you. Those of you struggling to make ends meet, constantly arguing with your children’s mother for the sake of their best interests— I hear you, I see you. To you, the fathers who cry when no one is around and pack in hurt after hurt and pained day after pained day, you are honored.

Fathers, do not let this day go by without attempting to learn, understand, care for, and love the ones who made you fathers. Start now, if you have not. For those of you fatherless and trying to father without the clear knowledge of the act — your children know that you are trying, even if they do not show it.

May this day be one to lift you up if you were feeling down and may love envelop you at every corner. Father is a forever word — a forever action. You will always be it.

From our small community to your hearts,
Happy Father’s Day.


Originally posted as a letter in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

“Our Father, Who Art In…”

I will never claim another

Gift Habeshaw | Unsplash

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. — Ephesians, 6:4, NLT


The way my father looks at me is as if he is looking at the world in every color, tone, measurement, and description all at once. He takes me in — processes me, and tries to understand my words while I am speaking. He hears me. It is a blessed feeling to allow someone to dissect what you are saying when at times, those words have proven difficult to express. Given my father’s background and his marriage to the church as an elder and minister, listening is one of the things he does best. Coming out to my father was not as hard as I envisioned it would be. As a matter of fact, it was quite easy. He knew I had something to share, he had known for years — thus, he pressed forward with opening the door to our conversation about who I, his daughter, was. I touch on this just a bit in “Unconditional.”

Listen to me, baby. You are my child. I don’t care about anything else. I love you for who you are, you hear me? That will never change. Never.”

I could never have selected another man in this world to be half of what makes me whole. It would be pointless and an impossible feat. My father was made just for me at a time when roaming the streets, hanging out with his friends, and catching up on homework should have been the only things on his mind. To be a teenager, trying to bring a female mini-version of himself up in a crazy world, I am sure, was the last thing he wanted. But he did it and in his own way. I had enough years with my father in our home to know what I should know about life and understand what I should about right versus wrong.

You can come to me. I hope you’ll always remember that. I love you.”

He fathered the way he knew how. He stumbled. He struggled. He made a ton of mistakes. But one thing he did not fail at doing is loving me. It took me nearly fourteen years after my parents’ divorce to realize that fact. Today, I can call my father up and we can chit-chat about whatever, like whatever is the best thing since jelly on toastWe can hoot, holler, boast, brag, and commend each other freely without that awkward silence that used to layer itself around us.

I no longer have to wonder what my dad will say or do about his oldest daughter being bisexual. I no longer have to shelter, hide, or deny myself happiness thinking I will be shunned from the spirit of the messenger. After all, I am his child.”

I am grateful for a father who openly loves me and dotes on me around his peers regardless of how many of them misinterpret the Bible. He has not struck me down — with words nor his fists. He tries to guide me in his own way and sometimes it may come off a bit preachy (that’s a given), he notices the coldness before I can even utter a word and simplifies and coats his words with love so as to not break my heart. There were years when I did not mention him, would not mention him. He was there, but not there. Not to me. Divorce can cloud a teenager’s mind and when step-parents are introduced, it can do even more.

I think back now to many of the hurtful things I said — how I allowed myself to let my tongue walk all over him without apologizing for my crassness. My father, knowing who I was at my core, gave me the space to vent and be free with my words in my growing up years without causing me to shrink. One thing he would say often was, “When you are older, you will know all that I did for you, how hard I tried.” I did not recognize the importance of that then. Oh, but I do now.

I am equal parts Michael and equal parts Angela and with the two of them buried deep inside my veins, I am one person. I finally understand why I ached for so many years when I thought of, interacted with, and tried to hold on to a bond with my father — stubbornness. The older I get, the better I am becoming at understanding who he is simply because he has always tried to understand who I am. My eyes are no longer closed.


To my father, who never has to change . . . thank you for everything past, present, and whatever there is to come. I will never claim another.


Originally published in Our Human Family via Medium.