The idea of remaining in one piece, birthed this space where all my experiences, parenting, productivity, life continues to roam free.

I cannot begin to count all the ways it has helped me heal from fires and storms. My heart knows too, all the ways rivers flow in peace, all because we lived, our way.

And so to sum this year in few verses would also diminish all that the year gave. And it gave everything, death, chaos, hurdles, trust, betrayals, triumphs, stories, and speech made less.

Yesterday, between hearts full of joy, and souls at peace, I learnt the true meaning and power of grace. The thing 2022 gave the most.

It’s in the people you see, those surrounding your table, those walking along your sides, those passing through storms with you, and those keeping your minds and imagination roaming wild and free.

They made 2022 sterling, silent, but statuesque all because I pondered themes that allowed me to reach beyond my dreams and the skies above.

Grace was sufficient for me yesterday. Grace got me through today. Grace will lead me all the way tomorrow and beyond.

Seeing as though we remain pregnant and full of ambitions for this thing we call joy (not to be confused with what others call work), grace has helped me give my all. Emptied everything too as I proceed to the next fold.

Knowing that my best is still yet too come, grace is how I choose to walk, knowing that there are legions by my side, prepared for the battles ahead.

I may not be able to sum the year in few verses, but grace is all that remains. That and the multitude of happy faces gathered around tables in a lounge in Lagos, for this thing we all birthed together.

I said I wasn’t going to cry. Said I would be strong as we still have miles to go. I have typed and retyped what I would say when a day like today arrives and honestly I stand in awe. To think that the news of our victory came on 9-22-22 keeps me numb. Thank you Angie for fighting in heaven for this one. Thank you for letting it be known that death does not have to have the final say. To be in this work is rough. Tough too. There has been days and nights in which all is given and nothing is received in return. But then I remember Chinua Achebe’s word, his reminder that until the lions have their own historians, the story of the hunt will only glorify hunter. So then I set out to be a lion. Set out because your death was overpowering. Your living too. But your death continues to haunt me.

I have been haunted by how it all transpired, haunted by the fact that we had no idea until it was too late. Years of figuring out the public’s health meant that I couldn’t even use all my knowledge to save my loved one’s life. So I have been trying to figure out how we lost our way. When did it become all about health and not enough about the public. I first discovered what was killing you when it was too late. You were not able to walk. Not able to talk in the last days and nights of your life. We couldn’t even get you on the plane to travel from Jos to Lagos as your condition was to dire to take chances. We still did. Living, we figured, was far better than dying. Everyone pitched in where they could. Bathed you and fed you. Prayed over you and anointed you when the end seemed so close. We all kept wondering and asking why and how and why and how only to end up with a grave that now belongs to us. We have been having a very hard time adjusting to your death. An equally hard time with the absence of your being. Your voice still echoes in my minds. All the things you called me, like Osodieme. We still vividly recall mama screaming and crying as she watched her only daughter die while she lived. Still hear her questions and wondering if we had any idea that you were dying. We did and we tried everything was all we could mutter. Afraid she would die too, we kept all this from her until the last week you both had together. Here was a woman who brought you to this world. Now she watched you die, wishing she was the one dying and not you.

These are all the things that have played in our head and minds since cervical cancer came to our door. You have taken us back to ourselves, back to all we know, just so we stand fierce and ready to do the battle necessary. I expect us to struggle. We are lions and the history of the hunt has never been in our favor. But we will tell our story one day, share of all the ways we struggled and all the ways we triumphed, just so no other woman dies from cervical cancer. We have kept moments of silence, done due diligence to your sunset, just so your sunrise will remain sterling again. This is the start of your sunrise and from today, may your story, like you, be fierce and ferocious as we bear witness to voices silenced, yet triumphant, those prepared to live and begin again, beyond their cervix, beyond the thing that tried to silence them forever. It failed. We are living proof. Beyond our fury, for girls and women by girls and women are all the ways your light shines past your death. We stand in awe.

I love thank you cards. I love to read them. Love to see them. Love the humanity inherent in them. I especially love when they come from strangers. My husband gets them all the time. He knows how much I love to see them too. This time, the stranger was more than gracious, so much so that she bought a mug so he never forgets her. I love her for it. Frontline workers are exhausted. The pandemic is unending and we are all tired. To see him sacrifice even his own health to care for others, always makes my thankful for him. To see the grace from the people he helped makes it all worth it. I may not be at the clinic everyday or even at the hospital but every good surgery is felt at home. Bad ones too are felt. But thankful ones hold a special place in our heart. Thank you to all those who take the time to thank frontline workers still. Your grace and thanks is so appreciated.

A friend shared this quote yesterday in the middle of a crazy work schedule: “When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”― Patanjali

I will share insights from my journey the past month with writing the best grant of my life. I obviously don’t know whether it will ever get funded but it was pure joy writing this one. Reading this quote shared by my friend helped me a lot during the last mile stretch of the grantwriting journey. As if the universe also knew I needed further encouragement, I was taken to the book of Isaiah this morning, chapter 41 verse 10. Not only will God call you, but when he does, he wants you to not be afraid. He is God and nothing will terrify you. He is prepared to make you strong and help you. He is also prepared to protect and save you. He is ultimately the Lord your God and when you live in his purpose for your life, nothing will terrify you. I am not afraid to live in my purpose. The past month solidified it hence why I am keeping this here. Keep living in your purpose and trust God.

I am always a little bored with demonstrations of greetings during the holidays. Demonstrations like, similar text messages that often begin on Thanksgiving and end, at least during the holidays, on New Year. They rely on the same things, the same promises, the same wishes, even the same prayers. I am sure you got a bunch of them yesterday. Most start with ‘Happy.’ I am guilt of doing so too. I typed it yesterday on my blog. But as the day wore on, as the cooking and silence continued, even as I spoke to some family members and knew that this year’s Thanksgiving would be a very quiet one, my own text messages became a bit intentional.

My 8year old’s gratitude drawing

I thought intently about each person and why I was thankful they were in my life, healthy, safe and sound, in the middle of a pandemic no less. I professed my love with words that came from my soul, words that I took the time to really reflect just how lucky I am to be blessed and surrounded by people who continually see the best in me. Things I often don’t see in myself, but yet, in their own way, they pull out each layer, one slice at a time, no matter how difficult or worrisome I can be. They all make be a better version of myself and for that, my yesterday was filled with gratitude to them. My whole being was grateful, blissful, content, joyful, blessed.

My 6year old’s gratitude drawing.

I told my kids to do the same, to take the time to reflect in writing or draw this year on why they were grateful. Of course kids would be kids, and besides being thankful for mom and dad, my 3 year was thankful for ice-cream, my 6 year old, learning especially from dad, and my 8 year, pizza and our home. That truly is the gift of this season. From my home and heart to yours, keep gratitude in mind.

My 3year old’s gratitude drawing with help from 8year old.
He really loved reading this.

The Bible verse in 1 Thessalonians, chapter 5 verse 18, notes that we should ‘be thankful in all circumstances.’ This verse takes on a special meaning when you consider all that we have endured in 2020. Still, we are told to be thankful in all circumstances. Hardly a Thanksgiving day goes by without folks expressing what they are thankful for. Everyone knows that gratitude plays a role in today’s Thanksgiving celebration. This interior attitude of thankfulness regardless of life circumstances takes on a special meaning this 2020. Not only am I grateful that key people in my life allow me to thrive on a daily basis, but this a year, I am especially grateful for the blessings I am consistently surrounded by. I choose to be thankful in all circumstances.

Still on my children, my thanksgiving.

Even with this pandemic, as challenging as it maybe, with social distancing, not going to church as we want to, homeschooling, working from home at the same, even wearing masks all the time. I am thankful in all circumstances. The past couple of months, I have also watched my husband work extremely hard to save lives, at the risk of his own life as an essential health care worker, with some stress, some deaths invariably, given his line of work, some deaths so painful, he brings it home just to release and be vulnerable around those that love him. Still, we are thankful in all circumstances. That silence and survival are my life’s greatest stories which chapters that keep writing themselves, chapters that shouldn’t surprise me (but still does after yet another incident just yesterday), chapters that truly capture what it means to be black, and female in academia, chapters that motivate me and serve as a reminder that there is a time to plant (silence) and a time to sow (survival), my life’s story unfolding before my eyes. Still I remain thankful even in these circumstances. Then there are my children. My life’s greatest joy, the core of my being, the strength of my life, my brightest light, my glowing moon, my blissful water, my passion for living, the source of my heart’s content, my innermost peace, my happiness personified, my creative confidence, my perfect poem, my sustainability, my grace. My children make me a better person. They help me grow and thrive in a world full of unknowns. Because of them I am content in who I am. With them, even a pandemic has allowed me to turn the unknown into opportunities of growth. The skills that I have gained from mastering homeschooling for example, are worthy of thanks. For them, I am thankful in all circumstances.

Thankful for the lifesaving gift I am lucky to call my husband.

This season maybe harsh, brutal, even painful for so many. I know it is easier said than done. But still be thankful in all circumstances. Life itself, even in the middle of a pandemic is a gift. Our tomorrows are not guaranteed. But today and always, it is important to keep being thankful in all circumstances.