January 21st, is a weird day for me.
Today, I am curled up with my phone, watching footage of thousands of women marching in New York and D.C. in protest of the presidency of Donald Trump, and in solidarity with the idea of “justice for all”.
Four years ago, I was purchasing my first ball gown. In a stroke of amazingly good luck, one of my friends had been given tickets to the Obama Inaugural Ball. Later that night, I would see Michelle and Barack for the first time, and I would dare to believe in magic.
And seventeen years ago, in this moment, I was hours away from getting into a car with my mother for what would be the last time. Hours away from attempting to make a left turn that instead of delivering us home as we thought it would, delivered me into a new world in which I would have to learn to exist without the woman who brought me into it.
Grief is a funny thing. You would think that after all of these years that I would have the hang of it. But I don’t. I knew that this day would feel weird because of everything that is going on at large so I spent last weekend doing the things I typically reserve for the 21st of January. I lit a candle, listened to some of her favorite songs, and of course, cried as I gave my mind permission to revisit the night of January 21, 2000.
I also did something that I have never really done: I Googled “motherless daughters” .
It’s a bulky term, and I must admit that it felt a bit like a betrayal. I am someone’s daughter. No matter how many years pass, I know that I do have a mother even though her physical presence has been missing for quite some time.
My search mostly turned up women who had experienced their mother dying after a long bout with an illness (fuck cancer), and not many women who truly experienced what it feels like to have their mother there one minute, and gone the next.
That’s what I originally set out to write about today. I wanted to write for those daughters whose life was abruptly changed one day in the face of tragedy. The women who had no time to contemplate, or bargain with the powers that be, no space to hope against hope. I wanted to create a little space of solidarity for them, in hopes that I could manage to write something that might help someone who happened to stumble here one day in their own quest to try to understand what it means to be a “motherless daughter”.
But then, as I thought it might, the events of today took over. Yesterday was a hard day, and I suspect that I have more people joining me in a feeling of grief than I normally do on January 21st.
It has been a day of mourning, of reflecting overlapping events, and feeling torn between my personal grief and the deep sadness I feel for my country today. But also a day of hope that maybe now, when faced to see all of the ugly truths about the place where we live and call home, that maybe, just maybe, is now the time when we, the people, will actually create opportunities to make America truly great (for real) and bring forth all of the potential that this country holds.
You see, my mother taught me to be an optimist. To look at a situation and see solutions, ideas, ways that I could get things done, believe that it was within my power to do something, and against all odds, to see the glass as half full.
If she was here today, I am sure she would say that we have to believe that this dark moment will give way to something better. Maybe this is the moment that we try to figure out how to listen and engage with each other across party, racial, religious, and state lines. That no matter how much we yearn to harden our hearts against what is unknown, and the wrongs that have been committed against us, that we have to push forward. That we learn to lean in and acknowledge the discomfort that talking about these things openly and honestly will bring, and do it anyway. That we learn there are so many ways to see a situation depending on the lens of your life. And that we learn that we can (and should) switch lens at any time to see san issue in narrow, wide, and full focus.
I think about my my mama every single day, but often when I am flying, I go into a deeper reflection on her life, and my life without her here. I’m not really religious, and I have not given much thought as to my official thoughts on “heaven” in relation to the traditional Christian way in which I was taught.
But there is something about being up there in the clouds that compels me to look out of the window and wonder if somehow she is soaring around up there, bouncing around the fluffy clouds in the sky.
The ultimate reminder to go high, even when the gravity of the earth we inhabit means that we have to constantly resist the urge to go and feel low.
For you, mama.
P.S. As always, thank you for reading, and if this post resonated with you in some way, please do share it.
P.P.S. If your eye happens to catch the clock at 8:15 tonight, please hold my mother in your thoughts. Thank you.