I am not quick to describe for myself whether life is this or that.

There are so many different ways to live life. Many different ways to make it your own out of something much deeper than anything that you can describe.

Sometimes you will fail. Sometimes you will succeed.

But life keeps going, almost like the dew on grass which no one knows where it comes from or what to do with it except to cut it off.

To deal with life, to stand one day naked, and look at yourself in the mirror is the real challenge in life.

I have looked at myself, looked at my face, full of dark freckles and dimples that always know when to reappear. I have paid homage to the gap between my teeth, and the moles at the back of my neck where my daddy too once had the same. Deep are the roots between us.

I have seen the flow from my hair follicles to the sole of my feet. Marveled too at the body that birthed three kings and a queen.

I remain in awe of the excess fold, all of it in the right place, all the curves too, in a way I choose to never change.

I have seen too the large mole on the top of my breast, felt a lump once that made me cry, until it wasn’t what I thought it was.

I have known deep love in this skin again, bathed it too with pink rose and vanilla again and again, that it could only be love.

I love this skin I’m in. Love too the curves of my back, the scars on my back, one the shape of a crescent moon, whose pain I’ll never forget.

I seem to forget other scars though, like the one from a broken glass on my right arm, or the one nestled on the side of my left index finger. They call it a birthmark. I call it a kiss from God.

To me, every inch of my being is a miracle. Every fold, every curve, every dark spot here and there, is truly a miracle. My legs are thick and strong, bones too, strong as a bronze. If this is what it means to be made in his image, then I am truly loved, beyond these words I use to speak of life as this or that.

My mood this morning!

I want to be that no ordinary kind of woman that meets herself every time through words. To remind her, that because of words, we can survive, live, love, pray, as we escape the unthinkable. These are cold days, but words can lead out to our breakout as we learn what life is. So if I am to live up to my middle name, if I am to bask in the glory of what it means to be named Isioma, then I am prepared to discover all that I am through words. I am prepared to meet myself over and over again, ringing like a bell, of how I survived and survived, because words came and I let them move me, seduce me, transform me, and illuminate all that I am becoming.

It’s our world anyways and we can write till we reach beyond ourselves. I want to write too, every time we meet ourselves. For this gift of writing, this gift of putting our thoughts into words, is a treasure. I am grateful that our cup continues to overflow. I am learning day by day that I live to write. A note, a phrase, a poem, or even a collection of things to keep if only for my sanity in a time of a pandemic. Today, I met myself. Today I went on a long conversation with the woman I am becoming. A storyteller that writes to live. We spoke of our love for words. Our love with putting down all our ideas into words that are pleasing to our soul. We encouraged ourselves too. Like two birds nestling by a stream, we told ourselves that we are doing fine with every single moment we note all the words that come to mind.

I am pledging allegiance to this freedom to write our lives through words we put together. How rare to live a life in words for ourselves first, for our dreams, our love, our heart desires, our morning sunshine, our children as dark as night or for the one called to save us. And words, have been our savior, our Chizoba in a world full of despair for a pandemic that refuses to dissipate.

More than escape, writing is life and a way of being still with ourselves. For we know, he knows the plans for us. The earth may shake. Cities may crumble. But happy are those who tend to life through words. This dancing of the mind, this communion with oneself, is like bread. It continues to give me new strength. And through his words, we are living in the pleasure of discovering and uncovering the plans for ourselves everyday. Writing is like the sun and it continues to set my life everyday. Writing also continues to move me to a place of divine connection to the power working within me. That’s what myself and I concluded and we will continue to choose the path we take, choose to put them in words, all because we know of his love. All we ask is that you continue to breathe on us daily so we make new words in us again and again as we escape from this world again and again.

Everything changes, the moment you hear the word. Life flashes through in a second. None of us can cheat life. None can escape the battle of death. I have tried to understand 2021. Fast runners never win their race. A fish still gets caught in a net. No matter how hard I tried, I still can’t understand. Why cancer? Why us? Our fists are clenched.

I have been wondering out loud what people may say if they came to my funeral. No I’m not dying. But death is inevitable. My grandma died this past week 25 years ago. Her death is forever in my memories. My first death experience too. The first time I knew death existed was the day my grandmother died. The day death came knocking, knowing that I will never forget that one day it will greet us too. Even the richest person or the poorest person on earth today will eventually die. The great equalizer that no one can ever cheat, ever beat or even tweet. The day you die will arrive one day. On that day, what will people say about you. Will they cry? Or will they greet your death with lamentations laced with sorrow and joy. Lamentations for a life once lived. A life lived to the fullest. A life worth celebrating. A life forever creating. A life once pulsating. A life forever educating. A life often frustrating. A life forever motivating. A life once stimulating. A life always translating. A life fully captivating. A life forever listing. Hence why I have been wondering, when I die, what would people say. I wrote this all as a verse, for my thoughts kept wondering.

My grandma, Mama Ocha. May her soul continue to Rest In Peace. Amen.

When I die, what will people say? Who will cry for my journey? Why will flowers line my tombstone? When will they come again with flowers for my cold stone? How will people describe my life, my journey? If these thoughts may seem unreal. They are. But I wonder for the people I greet today. Did I meet you well? Did I treat you well? Or did I beat you well? Life can be so fleeting. Our last words can be so depleting. Unless I keep this for the day death comes greeting. A day I truly won’t be tweeting. But on that day, when you come to my funeral, if you come to see my passing, don’t cry for a life once lived. Don’t let tears fall where our love once lived. Don’t let sorrow thrive where our perseverance continue to live. Don’t speak of our yesterdays where broken hearts once lived. Don’t wonder for our tomorrow, where endless possibilities continue to live.

Don’t let your heart be full of sadness for where our joy once lived. Don’t let this silence cause you to question where our devotion continue to live. Don’t let this passing cause you to hide, where our light once lived. Don’t let the end cause you to forget how our dreams continue to live. When you come to our funeral, don’t cry for a life once lived. Rather live, for we lived, this thing we called life. Looking up to the mountain, to the sun which never hurt, the moon which never failed, this life we once lived.

Claude McKay once wrote a poem entitled ‘if we must die.’ In it, he shared that may our death not be like hogs who are hunted and penned down, while dogs, mad and hungry bark around, mocking us even for dying like pigs. We are better than pigs. Much more glorious. And so if death is to be ours, if all of us have to live through a last sunrise or a last sunset, then he noted that may it come nobly, so that even our living is not in vain. Yet so many people live in vain. Death will always be victorious, however you live. I know that. But try to be better than pigs even if we must die. Even Jane Goodall noted that death can be the last great adventure, the idea of what lies beyond it. Know it and you know life. All of this got me thinking of life. That and seeing a full moon tonite. So I literally penned a response to McKay and called it, “If we must live.”

If we must live, if we must do it our way, may we do it like the moon, unafraid to glow, unafraid to be brilliant. May we also live with people unafraid to dream, people unafraid to pass through uncharted territories, rugged landscapes or rough terrains because they are so drunk in their dreams. If we must live, may we be uninhibited by our dreams, drunk in them too and be with people who dream drunk. For what use is life without dreams even if the dreams are hazy and complex. All dreams are. What use is life without imagining the impossible, like reaching for the moon, touching it, knowing it’s there always, longing for it, seeing it and then somehow surpassing it. If we must live, may our dreams take us past the moon, take us to new heights that defy words. May we do so dreaming of life too beyond reaching for the moon. May we surround ourselves too with dreamers and together, may our dreams help us surpass all our hopes for life, even the audacity of surpassing the moon. For to live beyond the moon, is to be bold, audacious, and any other word that personifies daring. If we must live may we dare to dream. May we dare to be like the moon. Dare to be with people and places that take us to the moon and beyond, and keep us forever glowing in an ethereal radiance that can only come for life lived beyond the moon. So if we must live, may whatever lies ahead of us, be as brilliant as the moon and still surpass the moon’s brilliance. Imagine that, a life whose brilliance, whose glow surpasses the moon. What a life that would be, this life beyond the moon, beyond your wildest dreams. If we must live, may we do so beyond dreams that came before us, dreams that take us high through paths unknown, for whatever adventures that lie ahead. If we must live, may we go wherever our dreams take us. And may dreams light the path, however dark it may seem, for however long it maybe. And even if we must pass our last breath, pressed against death’s firm grip, may we whisper ever so softly, how we lived, because we dared to dream.

Tonite’s moon.

This dream, I dream, of life beyond the moon, is as breathtaking as a baby’s kiss, my baby’s kiss. I gave him the moon. Well at least a small glimpse of it. He kissed me right after, as if to say thank you. If we must live, may life’s many breath be the moon, be beyond the moon, and be as gentle as a baby’s kiss. I am dreaming in love. I am dreaming of my baby’s kiss. And life, is so worth living, because we, my baby and I, dared to dream.

I was greeted by roses today. Crimson-eyed ones. China ones too. Each had a story to tell. A symbol to sell. Crimson-eyed ones are precocious, full of color, full of life, a colorful life. China ones are love personified, plus full of happiness, full of beauty, a beautiful happiness. Such was my Monday morning. A wish for life that is colorful. A prayer for life that is beautiful. A wishful prayer so precocious, so lovely. My prayer for you. I was greeted by roses today. Crimson-eyed ones and China ones too. May their beautiful colors, keep your life full.

China roses
Crimson-eyes rose mallow.

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.

What good is a seed without soil? These words echoed by Father Cullen our Jesuit Priest during his last mass with us today has me restless. To germinate and become a flower or a fruit tomorrow requires fertile soil. So what then is your stance once you realize that seeds and soils go together, like raindrops and water. My stance is to stay in the middle of it. To burrow deeply into the soil and mark your territory. Of course the terrain will be rough. The deeper you get, tough too for any seed still requires certain conditions to bear fruit, like water and sunlight. I say still dig deep. Become one with the soil. Get to know the depths you go and love every single terrain you come across. Don’t wait to for when you become a flower or a fruit to tell your story. Rather step inside, with your paper and pencil or phone and write. Tell every single aspect of your story, of how you became one with soil. It’s impossible to become something other than a seed without some commitment to the soil, a kinship even. Commitment runs right through seeds and soils. Like the sun on sunny days or rain on rainy days. Every condition is committed to the end. Just like Father Cullen and his commitment with our Saint Matthews church. Though this day has arrived and he will now be leaving us, we still remain his seeds. And what good are we without him.

We will miss you Fr. Cullen.

Materials that absorb all light appear black to the eye. By definition, a black body is supposed to radiate light. Yet we failed these bodies with George Floyd, and the teenage girls, and everyone else that witnessed his killings. For them, and all black children, I fiercely want change. No young girl should have to witness another person die, someone that could have been her father, her brother, her uncle, someone that she still apologizes to, for not doing enough to save his life. For Darnella, and her bravery with recording an unthinkable act for eight minutes and 46 seconds, I desperately want change.

So I ask what would it take to bring change to our children? What if children, teenagers, black ones in particular, can come into bloom, like light, radiant with possibilities? What if their radiance can be transferred from one place to another, from one moment to another, from one child or teen to another? What if they decide how this transfer should occur, how to light the pathway so that all their brilliance can shine forth? What if there is an explicit focus on the role they can play in shaping the vision of their radiance? I imagine such a world is possible, if only we let children be light. I imagine such a transformation, a radical one, can come to fruition, if only children have a say in shaping their brilliance. I imagine that young people as creators or designers of innovations can lead to solutions that matter to them, if only we let them radiate all their possibilities. I imagine this world because it’s time for change. We have done deficit model work for too long. It has informed how we view our children, with black children, black girls in particular, seen as adults and not children before the age of 13. I am prepared to change that. I believe our children can have a future radiant with possibilities because we the adults stepped out of the way. They can and will design such a future if only we let them. I am dreaming here of course, but I believe that these dreams can be inspiration so I am leaving this here for the moment that I let my dreams become possibilities. We all have the capabilities to embrace a radiant future for our children, if only we let the light that is them, be them. By tapping into this radiance, I hope that I can join the chorus of people who truly mean what they say when they say enough is enough.

Myself and my household have reached fatigue levels when it comes to the pandemic, homeschooling and work. We are also ready for 2020 to come to an end. Nothing seems as it should. Time seems to be going neither fast nor slow and it’s only the 10th day of December. Day 31 can’t seem to come fast enough. Or should it. What difference would it truly make if today was the end of 2020 and I have nothing to show, nothing to share, not even stories or experiences of how 2020 taught me to live. It did. For all its headache and heartaches, all its pain, all its chaos and role confusion, 2020 taught me to live life, experience it fully, notice it, invest in it, not passively but actively, as if every single minute, every single hour, day, month, mattered. They do. 2020 will go down as the year I started to find my flow, one experience at a time, even one daily keep at a time, all on my own terms and I have so many books like this one below to thank.

I am also blessed to see and experience life clearly through the lens of those who sacrifice theirs daily or the little sacrifices we make for others. Around 4:30am this morning I watched as my husband rushed to work for yet another case of stroke. He got home last night around 9:30 pm and barely slept through the night with one page after the other. I am a light sleeper so whenever he is on call, I am too. The hospital where he works has a Covid-19 surge and one critical manifestation is stroke. As I type this, he is probably scrubbing in to remove yet another blood clot from a Covid-19 patient. Apparently he does this often, performs surgeries on Covid-19 patients, intentionally exposing himself and his family to the virus and yet people refuse to wear mask.

I should also be sleeping but I can’t, not while I’m still breast feeding a 5 month old boy who eats on demand. Then there are the never ending obligations, never ending homeschooling assignments. By the time you add all this up, the ability to experience life on its own terms, to learn new things, to empathize or even grow beyond my limit is the last thing on my mind. Yet, I am determined to experience life to the fullest. Not with big things, but subtle things, slow things, passing things, even mundane things often taken for granted. Like typing this as I breastfeed my son in one arm. It’s my way of a staying up as he breastfeeds. Even the sacrifice of yet another sleepless night is worth it when you consider how babies create ripples in one’s life that is startling, with demands of fixed attention for every breath, every smile, every milestone achieved, every single moment demands attention. I wouldn’t trade this world, the serenity of a breastfeed sleeping baby after another round of feeding, for anything.

Neither would my husband. Every case is precious to him, another life worth saving, another clot worth removing and though it takes sacrifices like sleepless nights and early morning surgeries in the middle of a pandemic. If he was typing this, he would also agree, that we all need to keep experiencing life as is. Our experience won’t be perfect or by design. In fact, quite the opposite with sleepless nights in some case. But it’s ours, however we choose, it’s all ours to experience. So keep it, especially on your terms. I should be sleeping but I’ll rather do this. Experience life, one keep at a time.