My church (City Life Church) talks a lot about community and serving others. Not just “being” but actively ‘participating’ in life and in community. We are constantly taught that and given opportunities to walk in that ‘participation’ idea. I mean my church family really does it. They/we help each other and serve the community on a consistent basis.
Now what I’m about to type may make some people angry. So first, I want to say that this retelling is from my personal perspective. From my personal experience. If this doesn’t fit you and your experiences that’s perfectly fine. We will still honor each other's moments in this literary space.
I grew up in a TV-like household. It wasn’t a “The Cosby’s Show” or “Leave It To Beaver” type of home, although that would have been interesting to live through. My story reflects more of the “Lifetime Movie” type of vibe. Kinda like “A Mother's Escape” (Minus the fugitive part.) and “Homeless to Harvard” (Except I’m not white. LOL. I was not afforded the same things as my white counterparts. Racial Discrimination is real. Also, my mother hasn’t done drugs a day in her life. She is everything that tastes yummy and causes a smile.) with a twist of “Never Ending Story” (My mom can make fantasies exist. Real talk. Things you could imagine became realities with her around.) and a splash of whatever movie represents, “Jesus never left us and my mom is the true OG (Original Gangsta) in life”). LOL! So without going into the details on this post, I’ll say, “I went through some REAL things”.
Jesus was my best friend growing up. Like literally my best friend. I moved so much, it was hard to establish a person as a ‘best friend’ and stick with it. I told all my secrets, dreams, and fears to Jesus. I wrote to him, cried to him, and loved him fiercely. Jesus helped me not lose my mind throughout my life. It would have been expected or understandable for me to have severe psychological issues from the effects of my story. Honestly, I am very very blessed and fortunate to have gotten as far and to have fared as well as I have. I am humbled by this truth. I am grateful.
Even though gratitude emanates from my being, I still recognize that there are holes in me. There are rips in the thread of my story that have become part of the pattern of my life. My story isn’t smooth and I can’t imagine my way out of the holes that can clearly be seen. To be transparent, sometimes I feel so self conscious about it. When I don’t know the answer to something I should know or when someone tells me something that is my normal isn’t everyone else’s normal.
Here’s an example:
When I was in college I had a roommate named Crystal Wiley (She goes by Crystal Rae now. Look her up. She’s awesome!). In our apartment we lived next to an abusive couple. The boyfriend beat any good thing in his girlfriend, out of her. She looked absent of joy anytime I saw her.
Important information: Abuse triggers me because I grew up around abuse and experienced abuse.
One day our neighbor's boyfriend began to beat our neighbor (We will call her ‘Joyless’ for retelling sake). Joyless was screaming like she was about to die. I was sleeping on the couch. I opened my eyes and listened. Then, I pulled out the KNIFE that was under my pillow. Ok let’s pause. Please reread the previous sentence and allow it to sink in. Okay…ready for my explanation? Here goes…
When I was little I had a bear named BJ. He was a large white polar bear. He looked kind of like this stuffed polar bear. My Grandma Lillie (My grandma on my dad’s side.) gave it to me one Christmas. It’s the only gift she’s ever given me. At the time it was given to me, it was literally my size. It was huge and I loved that bear. When we moved, sometimes it was the only item I could take with me.
Because we often made narrow escapes and had to travel light, I made BJ my hiding spot. I performed surgery and cut his belly open. Just a medium sized incision that was large enough for me to place “special items” like my mini kids Bible, my dolly Vanessa (It was this hard plastic white doll with red hair and freckles that I named after my mom.), my favorite book (which changed periodically), and my KNIFE.
Don’t ask me why I had a knife. Just know that I needed that knife. I slept with BJ in my bed every single night. I loved that polar bear.
Ok there’s my explanation for the knife. After BJ, I always had a knife. I had knives hidden everywhere. I made sure they were close.
Let’s rewind back to the original story example:
Then, I pulled out the KNIFE that was under my pillow. I got up and calmly walked to the door. Internally I was 100% ok with stabbing the boyfriend if Joyless life was at stake. It would be self defense. I’d be okay. As soon as I opened the door and began to step out with the knife, I heard Crystal's voice. Crystal looked completely shocked. She explained that we wouldn’t be stabbing anyone today. She banged on our neighbors door and called 911.
While I was waiting to stab the boyfriend she gently took the knife from me and gave me ‘the hard stare’ while talking to the cops. The boyfriend left, and the cops came. Joyless left her apartment crying, banged up, but alive. Crystal and I stared at each other. I was sitting on the couch and she was sitting on the floor. She asked me about the knife. I told her the truth. She let me know it’s not normal to sleep with a knife under my pillow. Crystal gently told me to go back to sleep. As I laid on the couch, Crystal laid on the floor. Her eyes pierced through my eyes and examined my heart. That's when I began to cry. Silent sobs that exploded within. Crystal sang. Her melody hugged me tightly. I fell asleep covered in lyrics, surrounded by peace.
See? I told you I have holes. Missing information in the fabric of my life. Important things I was supposed to learn or be given. To me sleeping with a knife under my pillow was perfectly logical and normal. It’s not normal or healthy for that matter. Now as an aware adult with my own family, I think about those missing pieces. I think about my daughter Kiera (She is technically my step daughter, but she was definitely born from my heart.). She is the physical manifestation of vitamin D in sun rays.
I wonder what I am missing with her. When I’m out serving others like my church rightfully teaches, I wonder if I appropriately served Kiera first. Do the tares in my life fabric make me ill equipped?
My husband and I have been looking up words like legacy and birthright. We’ve been trying to get things in order so we can leave Kiera the good things she deserves. We want to honor Kiera, our child that passed (Joshua Elijah), and our future children by doing better than our predecessors. We want to make sure that we aren’t so busy serving others that we miss our own kid (She’s technically an adult).
We want to leave that birthright, but how do you do that with holes?