Isioma,

You come gliding through this Saint Louis blues, on a cold Sunday morning, frigid and clear.

You come walking through icy paths patiently gliding through forests deep as your walk fearlessly to the unknown.

You come tested by fire like gold and silver and all precious jewel formed by fire.

You come leaning not on your own understanding but listening to the voice in the desert.

You come on the shoulders of ancestors, unbroken, unknown, but impossible to ignore.

You come with birds flying from as far as Onicha, with tidings that will frame you, guide you as you follow the bird within.

You come with the gallop of horses, the jolt of chariots, with power, fierce and restless.

You come with words like wisdom, deep and like oceans and fresh like flowing streams.

You come not on your own, but with divine favor as pleasing as rain.

You come with grace as numberless as grains of sand, as fruitful as fields of grapes.

You come with these words in writing. Time is coming quickly and what you will be will come true.

You come knowing too that it may seem slow on coming. Yet you will wait for it, as it will certainly take place and not be delayed.

You come filled with awe and full of praise for what he will do.

Finally you come, despite everything, you come with the brightness of lighting, with a gleam strong enough to make the sun and moon stand still.

I saw this art by Tomi Anttila and I was moved to write the piece above. In 2022, I intend to keep coming back to light despite everything dark/cold around.

Imagination is a transformative force. It enhances, sustains, and frees mind hungry to unleash their dreams. I have been hungry for awhile. Imagination has been filling my soul. It has helped and continues to help me rethink all I thought I knew about a people, their ways, their heritage, even their landscape fully and freely. I have been reimagining history, if only for my mind for now. With every one post I write here, the is one or two never shared. It’s almost like I write in secrecy and this time imagination is my muse, re-imagination my watchtower. I have been rethinking all we know about a place, my place of birth, my heritage, the place my people call home. To fully make sense of this re-imagination phase that I find myself in these days, my son and I went to the Saint Louis City Foundry yesterday. He had a doctors appointment not to far off and on our way back home I wanted to see first hand how the site which was once an abandoned area has now been reimagined as a food hall. I was impressed. Maybe it was the diverse array of food vendors at the hall, a Senegalese one being my favorite, but the entire space reimagined as a food hall made me understand just why we all need to be in the business of transforming ourselves often. No we don’t have to transform ourselves like the foundry, but every little act of imagination goes a long way to retell stories often absent from history. Stories about people unknown. I am in the business of imagination these days and I look forward to how far this journey takes me. City Foundry by the way is 100% astounding. You should go there if ever in Saint Louis.

She loved to bake. I imagine her cake would have been moist and fluffy or her cookies, golden brown and warm, all of them as delicious as her smile. Her baking business would be crowded too, maybe decorated with hints of purple, with lavender flowers all over like her eyeglasses. None of this would ever happen. Though she helped others as an employee for the American Red Cross, Jazmond Dixon, a St. Louis city woman who loved to bake, became the first known deaths due to COVID-19. She was only 31 years old.

Rest In Peace Jazmond Dixon.

No prexisting condition was known by her family who suggested that she may have contracted the virus between work and family functions. Though her family was dealing with her loss, they too, like many other families grappling with death and loss from the virus, felt the need to share her story so others would take the virus seriously. One family member stated the following, “our family is advocating for people to humble themselves and make decisions for the greater good. We don’t live on a large planet… this is on our doorstep. This is serious.”

As we approach the one year anniversary of Ms. Dixon’s death, I can’t help but wonder what if any lessons those of us still living may have learnt. For starters, is the virus gone? No. Far from it. Yet, driving around town yesterday, restaurants with out door spaces were crowded and almost everyone was maskless. It’s as if the death of Ms. Dixon remains in vain and we wonder why the virus remains. Perhaps maybe too that public health officials fail and continue to fail with telling the stories of the dead. Our reliance on statistics, as accurate or sophisticated they maybe, probably helps to also make people feel far removed from the pandemic. So I’ll try storytelling. Do I expect everyone to change? No. But maybe I can convince you, whoever reads this, to take the virus seriously. Lives are being lost everyday. Survivors still have a long way to go. Do not let Jazmond Dixon’s death be in vain and wear a mask, or practice social distancing or avoid large crowds. Do your part too. It matters to end the pandemic. Keep all this in mind. That and the memories of Jazmond and all the dead of COVID-19.