Recently, someone suggested to me I open up myself to a message from the women in my family who came before me, specifically, my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. I included my paternal grandmother, too.
So one morning I settled in with a pen and my journal and meditated a bit on them – my memories of them, stories I had heard, feelings that came up as I recalled them.
I chanted to them: I am here to honor you.
This is what they said to me:
Thank you. Thank you for honoring us. We were never honored, never appreciated for all we gave up, our dreams, our wants , our desires.
We were dutiful and the strong ones, though they wanted us to think we were weak, so they could feel strong.
But we knew. We knew we were the ones shouldering the burdens, the endless burdens.
If something went wrong we fixed it. If something was said we forgave it. We carried on with the weight of the family’s secrets on our shoulders. Our hands were the bloodied ones, the blistered ones – while they carried on, strong and silent.
Who do you think cried for them? Who dreamt for them? We held on to the dreams of our mothers, our men, our children. We protected them. Held them. Fed them in the dark of night and forever, whether they came true or not, we held onto them, as if they were our own.
Because ours were dead. Killed. Murdered. Never acknowledged, like unwanted babies, accidental pregnancies – barely admitted, never acknowledged.
We bore all that pain and when we cried out over the burden of it all we were told to shush, to be quiet, and we were. Silent…seethingly silent. We buried our anger like we buried our dreams, beside our hopes, our wants, our desires. An entire graveyard of yearning and sadness and bitterness.
The men stood beside us, their hands on our lower backs, steering us away from the gravesite, before we were ready. We wanted to stay, to keen, to strip off our clothes and roll in the mud made by our tears. We wanted to fight them – those men who urged us to leave. We wanted to slap them, hit them, yell at them for telling us everything would be ok, because it wasn’t then, and it isn’t now.
Just look at you, our daughters, our babies, our voices, our dreams, look at you.
You are right where we were. Standing tall, but silent, looking at the grass that has grown over your dreams. The beautiful green grass that has been tended to as if on purpose. But it is what lies beneath that feeds you.
Don’t stop. Go deeper. Don’t be afraid to disrupt the beautiful grass, the clean soil, get under that, into the rocky depths where the worms and garbage lie. Those are your dreams under there. Dig that shit up, manicure be damned!
Don’t walk away like we did, wiping your tears and planning the family’s next meal. No.
Stand there still like a statue. Be not moved from your place, your rightful place as the one who will protect and resurrect not only her dreams but those of us who dreamt before you.
It’s good to be here,