There is nothing like introducing a child to Shel Silverstine. ‘A light in the attic’ being one of my favorite of his. Of course ‘where the sidewalk ends’ is equally fantastic. Then don’t let me get started on ‘the giving tree.’ Everything he wrote and illustrated is truly worthy of praises. Not because he was gifted with his craft, but more so because of his rare combination of poems and drawings for dreamers and those who love to imagine, believer and those who like to believe differently, thinkers and those who do so differently, dream, believe and think, different. To introduce him to my son was a delight. To watch the light in his attic flicker on was joy. We spent the entire summer drawing, all sorts of pigeon particularly from Mo Willems ‘Don’t let the Pigeon drive the bus.’ Discovering drawing with cartoons was one of the best thing we did we all summer with him. I never knew he loved to draw until this summer thanks to Mo Willems and his brilliantly simple tales of a pigeon.

It allowed him to focus, as in not for minutes but hours even on pigeons, drawing and illustrating books and books of it in other versions like The Pigeon gets a hotdog. He was not only drawing, but committing words to memory, reciting them all to himself in ways that make sense to his mind. Doing so, allowed him to temper his meltdowns. Some drawings will be poor, full of mistakes too. Some will make you mad, disappointed or frustrated with yourself too. But the ones that stand the test of time. The ones that defy the odd and leap through the pages to tell your story as clearly as you want are the ones full of joy, full of delight, full of all his light.

Now enter Shel Silverstine. Before there was Mo and all his pigeon tales, Silverstine shined brightly. A light in the attic is a classic of his. Short and sweet for minds quirky but full of treats. And my son’s mind is superb, with Silverstine’s work a gentle treat, so soft but full of power like the sounds of a drumbeat. Where he ends, whether with the bridge that only my son can take across his mind past moonlit woods on a magic carpet through the air or past whistling and whirling winds from skies so grey, is where my som begins. The journey is endless with Shel Silverstine and I can wait to watch as he journeys through it all. There is a light in the attic of his mind. Though we are all outside, we keep looking as flickers with his light.

The air is full of possibilities these days. Full of grit and full of persistence when you remain rooted in knowledge. The winds are changing too. And when they blow, things will move too. Something about the start of the new school year almost always feels like a cleansing time for me. Time to get rid of old and in with new. Time to change also, for the wind is blowing. It has been a very difficult summer for me and my family. But as I get ready to start my first week of teaching, I am ready to nurture this delicate balance we call life to the fullest, one story at a time. A purposeful quiet is brewing too, potentially making the new school year one filled with possibilities even in distant horizons.

We survived week 1. One full week of school. One full week of lunch packs. One full week of homework. One full week of early morning wakes; 6:30am. One full week of early bedtimes; 8:30pm. One full week of mask wearing. One full week of non stop questions. One full week of stopping to ask questions. One full week of endless days. One full week of mindless haze. I still wouldn’t trade it for anything, not even homeschooling. To be back full time is blissful. Our children need schools. You need to wear your masks and vaccinate so they have endless days of school.

August has been a whirlwind month. We are still making sense of this month. Still hoping that we would wake up from this dream. Still asking questions. Still wondering why. Still confused as to how we got here. Still wishing we never got here. Still hoping for all this to go away. But most of all still wishing Angi was here with us. Today marks two weeks since she left us. My husband still has questions. I have some too. We have no answer, no way of getting to the bottom of our ordeal and this is the most difficult aspect of it all. To think we could have saved her if we knew on time. My sister should be alive is all he says. I agree is what I say. We know that our questions will never fully be answered. Still we ask them to ourselves, to each other, to remind ourselves that no woman, no girl too we know, or don’t even know should ever go through this ordeal again. It’s our mission. One we hope to share with the world, to make sure we get to the bottom of cervical cancer. We can end it. We will. We were encouraged by a card we receive in the mail today. A perpetual Catholic mass card in Angie’s honor. It came today, exactly 2 weeks. We are motivated. Our fight will be perpetual too.

We have been experience very hot summer days. 100 degrees hot. We stayed indoors. Stayed closed together too. My boys love outdoors. Jumping on their blue trampoline is one of their favorite things to do. All of that came to a halt the past few days. Staying cool inside the house was all they could do. Until this afternoon. My daughter has the bright idea of using our sprinklers to stay cool. Against my better judgement, I agreed. The water was cool. Their peals of laughter, even soothing with our new found tool . I was pleasantly surprised. Even sprinklers on a hot day works. It’s kept the kids cool, kept them dancing too. Kept me cool, dancing too, as I watched the joy in their eyes and feet. Keep dancing with sprinkling water.

They were on the floor. All three brothers, head to head. Sister was in the room with her piano teacher Ms. Neva mastering the twinkling star, wondering what it was. I looked at the boys wondering why the floor. They rolled around and around, laughing and smiling away. Shining brightly too like rare diamonds on the ground. They twisted and turned, and twisted some more, oblivious to the dirt all around them, oblivious to the sounds of my pleas too. The ground was all they wanted. Getting up from it was all I wanted.

So I tried to pull them up from the ground, one by one. They all went back to the ground after each successful attempt. I kept pulling them away, trying not to lose my temper or my mind. I was afraid of the ground, afraid they would hurt themselves, afraid that they too would hurt the ground. The carpet was light brown. They are children, boys too. I hate dirt on carpets, on lightly colored ones, or any colorless one. They love dirt, big or bright, dark or small. Any that will make you curse under your breath. It’s the reason why we have no carpets in our home. We just removed the beige ones that came with the home we bought. The carpet lasted 20 years or so prior to our ownership. With us, my boys and their love for red volcanic experiments or any colorful merriment, it lasted 2 days.

Carpets aside, we are still in a pandemic. If you believe the virus is airborne, then chances are that no child should lay on the ground. Yet, my boys adored the ground. Laid on it too, like it was the finest of cottons. After my pleas to get up fell on deaf ears, I paused and looked at them, looked at the ground too with intent. I took in the moment, took in the laughter, took in the love fully on display. No wonder they were oblivious to my pleas. In life, we will pass through dirt, we may be on the ground too with dirt. Diamonds are all the time. But still, we can shine brightly even in the middle of all the dirt around us.

My boys taught me that, rolling and laughing on the ground. They call it black boy joy. I call it love. To see it on full display among boys oblivious to the dirt around them, oblivious to the ground, oblivious to the world, is breathtakingly magical. We need more love. Here, they are oblivious to the world. Here, they have defeated the world. Here, they have rolled away the ground. Here, they choose to listen to their laughter, listen to joyful sound. Here, they returned back to dirt, return back to earth. Here, they uncovered the beginning of knowledge. Here they use it to teach the power of love, the power of being loved. Here, they love, love and love, loves them too. Here, they love being together, laughing together too, even on the ground with dirt all around. Here, they love those around them, each other and that is all that matters. I will cherish this keep.

The new school year is in full swing. A note to myself: Take it easy. Remember you are not really in competition with anyone but yourself. Hidden within the commandment love your neighbor as yourself, is the need to love yourself first. Without which I am sorry for your neighbor. So love yourself this new school year. Whatever you want to do, however you want to do it as well, do. It’s your ride and race. This thing called life. Here today, gone tomorrow. And the world would move on as if you never existed. So yes, take it easy or take am jeje, as pidgin English would suggest. Life na jeje after all.

For them, I will be taking life easy. (Shot by my 4 year old).

No need attending anything too you don’t feel like or liking anything you attend. To be of use, to yourself first, to those you love, like these little boys and a growing little girl that needs a present mother, a loving and gentle one too is all that matters. Life Na jeje after all. No need overdoing anything or letting anything overdo you. It’s just a thing afterall and you matter. All of you. If the thing is going to lower your vibrations or take you down a path worth avoiding, then don’t go. Only go towards things that lift your vibrations up, challenge you too to do more than you can ever hope or imagine. Move towards things that let you remain in light. With grace and beauty too, take the time to become the light you were and are destined to be come in your own way, your own pace. This life Na jeje after all. Finally no need being in spaces that don’t value your many phases. We all change. A blue sky turns grey in a twinkle of an eye. Plants too and trees. So how much less all of us humans. So need being in spaces that don’t understand what it means to change. You will change. You have changed through this past year alone and I expect more change to come your way as you embrace this phase of your life. Afterall, even this phase of your life Na je je with all you have to care for.

To be of use to them, will require you to be of use to yourself, take an easy, don’t attend what you don’t want to attend, don’t do anything you don’t want to and don’t be in spaces that don’t value all of your phases. This life Na je je and as the new school year begins in full swing, take am easy is my keep.

He never stops spinning around. My son. He never stops. We were at music school waiting for his turn to begin his piano lessons. Rather than wait, he starts to spin around and around. With his cream-colored shirt and the label ‘full of sunshine’ across his chest, he spun around over again. The sun shines on him fully, like a ray that brightens up any dark day. He continues to spin and spin until he falls. Then slowly he got up and continued to spin. As if the fall meant nothing. As if his knees scrapped nothing too. So to is the story I want to tell. It’s full of sunshines, full of spins, full of falls, and full of rising up. When you raise four black children and work, when three are black boys and one a little black girl, when tears are your music and the floor your friend, life becomes a song that keeps spinning and spinning, sometimes our of track, sometimes with a fall, but most times with a rise. This is my story, this is my song. Welcome to a black mom in light. Welcome to light.

I started with these words ‘with total submission to the will of God.’ I realized immediately that I would prefer something else. We are still struggling with this will that saying we submit, seems false to me. So then how do you write the perfect obituary, the perfect last words to sum up a life you wish never ended? I have been tasked with this duty and words fail me. I want to say much. Not the will, but the sadness, the despair, the pain, the anger, but then love and feelings of loneliness and her lasts words to me. Suffice it to say, no words will do. Nothing. All I can surmise for sure is that hearts are broken and words won’t do. How do you write the perfect obituary? You don’t. Nothing can be perfect where an obituary is concerned. Finding the right words to use to convey feelings of brokenness, feelings of my heart in shatters is enormous. Living is going to be tough till we meet again. Until then, we are going to soar up to the skies to meet you in flight, to be with you, as you soar faraway. At least now, we have our own Angel looking down on us from heaven.

At the heart of our mystery as women is creativity. We literally give birth to new beings, new life. We finds ways to birth other things too, like writing for me lately or jewelry making, a reoccurring hobby of mine. To be able to make something, is to live life to the fullest, to live it also open, to new ways, new ideas, even new experiences. I have been learning to embrace each new cycle, every twist and turn, life throws my way, with words that are flowing faster than I even share on the blog. The ask for myself has always been at least one keep a day. I did so to keep myself in check. Writing more than one comes easy these days, though I still stick to the one keep a day principle.

Which brings me back to this idea of creativity. I am loving this process of using words to get through the most difficult experience I have experienced this year. I know and expect death. We all have to leave one day. The prayer I ask is that we leave surrounded by love, supported by love, secured in love. It’s the gift of a lifetime to see love manifested in this way. To feel it, even embrace it is truly magnificent. The purest forms of it, I am learning isn’t when you exchange vows in public. It isn’t when we have big celebrations or dance until our feet are weary. The purest form of love I am learning are during the birth of a child and during the experience of death. I have gone through birth 4 times to know that each process of bringing forth new life, is unapologetically profound and full of joy. Though we scream and shout and push, the gift of a baby in one’s arms evokes feelings that words cannot fully capture. I cry all the time. The tears keep flowing as I watch in awe of our gift of creation. It’s a gift I will forever treasure as long as I live. A gift that I remain grateful to have experienced 4 times.

The birth our baby #3. (Fun fact, this was the only baby that Dad brought into the world with his hands: we literally created and brought him to the world together).

Then there is the other extreme of life. The experience of death. I have also been here before with distinct experiences that ushered tears in my eyes. I remember my first experience with death. It was my grandma and I was 13 years old. The week prior to her death was eerily similar to my sister in law’s death. She too was surrounded by love, supported by loved and secured in love. We watched her as she slipped in and out of consciousness the Sunday before her death. We poured water on her face and she came back to herself. It happened so fast that she asked why were we crying and why was she all wet, oblivious to what she just put us through. For the rest of the week, it was as if she was in a celebratory mood. I remember receiving money from her that Tuesday evening following the Sunday incident, stating that I should purchase drinks for everyone in the house. Her request was strange as we had no cause for celebration. But I obliged and got the drinks for everyone. She kept insisting that we should be happy and celebrate life always. I nodded my teenage head and went on my way.

By Friday morning, around 7 am or so, she began to slip out of consciousness again. She was wearing a light blue flowery night dress with white buttons from the top to the bottom. The radio was playing ‘I surrender all.’ I remember this distinctively as I was in the room. She was waving her hands in the air as if she was praying. It was the last song she listened too. A befitting one, seeing as though she was slipping away from this world to the next. I pray to surrender, and freely give all to him when my time arrives. They rushed her to the hospital. I stayed behind expecting things to get better. I even shamefully picked up her Naira laying on her bed and got some butterscotch for myself as I waited. By the time, they returned from the hospital, the blue night dress was all they came home with. Mama has died was all I heard. I knew at that moment what death meant. There were no preparations, no warning, just tears that kept flowing. The presence of her absence was so unbearable.

I still see her bed, all the pictures of her children and grand children on the wall. I still see her staring at the window or from the balcony whenever anyone came to our house. It’s been close to 25 years since her death. This November 8th, would make it 25. Yet, I remember this day as if it was today. Death has the power to let memories of those you love and lost linger for years to come. It’s creative power is unmatched as it has the final word on how the story ends, how the music lasts or how the picture of our lives are illustrated. I am learning that once more now that I find myself surrounded by it again. To witness it’s last stroke is to witness the creativity inherent in all of us. We all come into this world with unmatched creativity that continues to baffle humanity. When our time is up, we will leave as well with this same creativity that no expert can vividly illustrate. Yet we cannot mourn or live as people with no hope, rather their is a gift even as we try to cope. No father or mother would gift the life they created stone when they ask for things. But rather, they would gift us all we ask. In times of despair, his plans are always good.

I am leaning on these words knowing that the ultimate creator would not give me more than I cannot handle even as I create or make sense of this experiences with words that flow these days with ease. This is the second of 2 essays I wrote just this morning alone. It’s the ultimate consolation. To still be able to create even in the middle of a loss so painful. I choose to keep this one because creativity is the ultimate gift. Keep it for yourself always.