How do we approach the complexities of ourselves fearlessly? How do we do it whether as a mother, a writer, a wife, a sister or a friend, fearlessly? How do we uncover our untapped power fearlessly? How do we accept all our tensions or even our chaos fearlessly? Yet still somehow, unleash our ambitions fearlessly?
To become fearless, to become an ambitious her, I marvel at the thought of somewhere, somehow, a woman like me, bathes her four kids for the night, gives them their vitamins, reads books that tickles their noses, and kisses their heads goodnight, not before they tell stories by moonlight or pray for guardian angels through the night. Then she darts around the house, checking for locked doors, and alarm locks, washes the night dishes and sweeps the floor one more time. Then she makes a cup of tea, lemon ginger with a twist of lemon for her insides. She turns of the lights and snuggles, beneath a grey fuzzy blanket, not before she picks up her phone to write this note, of how somewhere, somehow, a woman like me, lived wild dreams of herself, gliding through paths untrodden fearlessly. This dream, she always knew, would come through one day. And today is that day. Welcome to my most ambitious year.
Yesterday we began an adventure into 8 days of Christmas fun.
In fact, we are living our lives through a book written and illustrated by my daughter.
All I can say is that because of her, my world is Belle.
Like Lotanna Belle, there are no limits.
She is one who opens our hearts to truly remember the love of our fathers, every time, beautifully.
Belle, writes, and illustrates, and shows us love that reminds me of my father’s sweet embrace.
She lives out her live in words more elegant than sweet. An elegant love. Her love burrows deeply into my heart. Deeply like a stone, crushing it, until it’s all love. That’s what reading my daughter’s words does to me these days.
A world fully Belle is genuinely Belle.
There is a Belle in all things, all around my world and this Christmas is Belle all because of her. I am loved. She makes me remember the elegant love my father showered on us this time of the year too. He is so missed.
Born in the year of a pandemic, I remember when he started to crawl. He crawled as if he was ready to walk. He walked when he turned 9 months. He has been walking ever since. Late last month, we started to remove all the protective features around our stairs. By this month, we removed all of them. We had quite a few and the thought of a fall was forever on our minds. I knew we would get here one day. Just didn’t want the day to come so soon. Watching him grow has been everything. Now my baby walks up and down the stairs all on his own. He has mastered the stairs too all on his own. And that’s a feat worth celebrating. This is also what it means to be a toddler. Every aspect of his being, full and free. Wisdom he never knew now blossoms through his life with delight. Watching as he follows directly in its path even with walking up and down the stairs is a prayer answered fully. There is no end to your treasures and like an olive tree you are loaded with fruits that will continue to tower to the clouds with every step you take, even up and down these stairs. Keep moments like this.
I am raising a boy whose on the spectrum. He is becoming more than I ever dreamed of. More than I ever hoped for. More than I ever thought he would become. He is also doing it his way. Sometimes his ways are out of sight. We are all astound. Here is a boy that barely said a word at 3. A boy for whom meltdowns were all he knew. Until things changed. I still pinch myself as I have not really taken the time to truly uncover all we did in the beginning. And we did a lot.
If you told me back then that we would get to this place one day, I would not believe you. He was kicked out of his first school at age 2 after attending for 2 days. The odds were completely against us. My own child was kicked out of school before he could say his name. I still remember crying by myself that day wondering where to begin. I remember calling a helpline for special needs kids in Georgia that day too. The person on the other line had to have been an Angel. After briefly chatting with her calming me down, she asked what we both did for a living. I said I was a researcher and dad was a resident in neurology. Her response, I wouldn’t worry to much about your son then. I asked why. She said because we would both use our gifts for him and that’s more than most kids on the spectrum would have. Looking back, she was right. When we learnt through research that a drug for cancer had speech properties, my son was on it. When he had a series of nonstop laughing episode, and my husband remembered something about the brain and laughter, my son’s brain was observed via EEG which uncovered mini seizures while he slept. Our gifts were indeed useful for him.
Today at age seven, I keep pinching myself every time I have a heart to heart with him or watch as he reads a book. These days Dog man’s series are all he knows. All he is obsessed about. That he reads makes my heart swell. His ways are still forming, still making sense of this world, still stimming, still repeating things that make no sense, still involves play that makes no sense too, but all of it, all his ways are perfect by design. These days, I would not trade any of this for any sense of normalcy. Not with him. He is perfect by design and even when he tries, all his ways are good. It’s the smallest things with him, the hugs, the meltdowns too, all of them combine, remind me just how blessed we are as a family. To be in the midst of a child on the spectrum is a blessing. One that I am extremely thankful I got to witness with my own eyes. Today he is in a Christmas play in school. The boy who barely spoke at 2, was kicked out of school at 2 as well, is in a play at school at 7. His ways remain out of sight with great days and days with good tries. The sky is not a limit and I remain hopeful for what the future will bring his way.
We told our son that he is a bird. Free to fly far and wide as he chooses. His teacher told him he is terrific. Free to reach for space and beyond. Now I watch as birds reach for outer spaces. I watch as my son becomes a bird.
Words call us, we go. A blurry thought, uncertain notes, hopelessly we stroll until meaning becomes clear, becomes us. Today we sat patiently trying to wait for words to come. It took a while. Children were crying. Hearts were weary but souls were full from a reunion a pandemic almost denied. We waited for the words to come, to express how we felt for we where thankful, full of thanks for a day that kept giving, spilling into another day that continues to give. Then the word ‘serious’ leapt across our mind. We questioned its intent, waited even for the discontent. ‘Serious’ what are we supposed to do with you. Then we remembered, being together is a serious matter. Being with family even in the middle of a pandemic is serious. The terrible stories we could have told are blunted because we did together seriously. So as we settle in, as we bask in the glory of yesterday, the majesty of today, and the hope for tomorrow, we know that together will always remain serious for us. Thanksgiving with people like us is a serious matter and we intend to keep it so.
Simple words are all we need to touch each other. To feel, to wonder, to love all that makes us whole. I am learning the power of simple. The power of soft words, like velvet gently brushed across my skin. The power of inclusive words too that wrap us all together like a fuzzy blanket on a cold winter night. The power of memorable words, unforgettable ones that tell how sweet it is to be loved by you. The power of paradise words, all of them that speak of the bliss we all know truly exists in heaven. The power of loving words, living words too that help us all rise up on wings like eagles. The power of enlightening words, those that let you bloom where you are planted for your light was never meant to be hidden. The power of simple words are profound, easy, effortless, sincere, honest, open, direct, pure, comfortable, uncomplicated, coherent, just, straightforward, elementary, natural, undemanding, plain, innocent, real, and light. So too are the words through which my kids gifted me with this Thanksgiving. Simple words that are as warm as a hug from loved ones this season. Simple words that share all they are thankful for. Keep simple, like Happy Thanksgiving. I am happy and thankful for you all. I give thanks to you all. That’s all.
I like cool cuts. It’s a wholesome read for my girl, boys and I. For when black boys and black girls let their stars shine, no matter how hard the test, the world will be theirs and it will be awesome. Their cool cuts will lead the way too.