For Marie


Hi Mama,

When I was a kid, you would give me letters to mail that were addressed to God. An envelope full of pages of your prayers, your pain, your hopes dropped in a blue box was a normal thing for me to do. Now that you aren’t here, I decided to do the same. For the person I can no longer hug, or kiss, or laugh with I wanted to tell you what you will always mean to me. I haven’t been able to write this letter until now. It’s been five years since you passed and I haven’t been able to keep it together long enough to put pen to paper. In a few days it will be mother’s day, so in the spirit of the day that honors all that you and countless other mothers do and have done I wanted to say a few words.

My greatest memories are all of you. There is not one moment that passes by that I don’t think of our many adventures together; cooking dinner, you beating me in monopoly, shopping for my prom dress, you taking me out of school just so we can have breakfast together and talk. I watched you struggle to pay bills, try to figure out what we were going to eat, all while keeping a smile on your face so that I would have one on mine. Yours was a life full of struggle long before I came into existence; abused and neglected but still able to become a woman full of love and forgiveness for everyone. Even while battling cancer, I watched you literally take the clothes off of your back and give to someone else in need. You taught me humility, honesty, generosity and how to be a woman. You gave me the truth no matter what I asked because you knew I wanted nothing more and nothing less.

There was always something magical about you to me because you could make the impossible happen. You were a single Black woman with four kids doing it on her own and you managed. You gave us Christmas and birthdays with no help from anyone else. I know how hard it was for you to send me to live with my father at times, the many unnecessary apologies showed just how difficult it was. You never had to apologize for doing what mother’s do, sacrificing your wants for my needs. You gave us the best of you even when we failed at giving our best in return as we got older at times.

You used to say, “Live long enough” when I couldn’t understand something and that statement always comes to me when I finally get some lesson you were trying to impart before you left this place. You still show up because I dream of you often and in every one of those dreams you are still on mama duty teaching me something, gently nudging me in the right direction while still allowing me to figure it out on my own. In one of our last conversations, you spoke of things that you might do differently if given the chance and I pointed out that I might not be here if you changed those things but you disagreed. You looked at me and said, “You would be here because you were meant for me.”

I miss singing with you, discussing religion vs spirituality, I miss us making each other laugh. I miss the person that knew me best. I look in the mirror and I see you in me and it brings me joy and breaks my heart simultaneously. We traveled this existence for thirty years together and despite the many ups and downs, I am grateful for every step that we took. Although your path has ended and mine continues, I carry with me the love and the lessons you gave me while you were here. You were in every way grace personified and I hope I can become even half the woman that you were.

So to my best friend, the greatest woman that I have ever had the privilege of knowing, happy Mother’s Day.


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