When you are rendered invisible,
you either accept erasure,
or you refuse to disappear.
I refuse to disappear.
There are many who cannot see me as I am
because they cannot make sense of who I am.
So many who cannot reconcile that I am:
a native speaker of two languages,
a citizen of three countries,
the brown-skinned, biological mother of a son presumed to be white.
I will not legitimize my personhood, however.
I am legitimate as I am.
The confusion others may feel about me is a reflection of them.
It is not a reflection…
At Home in the World
In 2002, my mother took a stunning photo of my father reading on the terrace, under the setting sun, and captioned it, “At home in the world.”
9 years later my father would be gone. Since his death in 2011, that photo has taken on even greater significance for me. It is one of my favorite images of my father precisely because it captures him at his happiest — reading — but also because of the light of the setting sun.
The sun has become symbolic for me since his death. It broke through the…
Dancing with My Father
A few days ago I discovered a new song — “Never Get Used To” by Seinabo Sey — with a great beat that I immediately started dancing to. As I danced, and began to sing along to the chorus, I realized it was a song about a daughter missing her father.
“I cry ’cause I remember you
And then I cry when I forget about you
I smile ’cause I remember you
And then I smile again to pull myself through
Calling for you is your daughter
I look for you ‘round every corner
Another Mother’s Day is nearly upon us, and I feel immense gratitude that my mother is here to celebrate it. With the past year we have all lived, it is nothing short of a miracle that she remains healthy and safe. It is a true gift.
My mother is a force of nature. When she enters a room, people take notice. She is of average height, but she carries herself with grace, self-possession, and confidence. My mother is stunning. She has smooth, deep brown skin, almond-shaped dark brown, nearly black eyes, a short afro of all white hair and…
Follow Your Bliss
“Follow your bliss.”
My parents would repeat this phrase to me, like a mantra, throughout my childhood and adolescence. They always emphasized how crucial it was for me to to pursue what I love, what awakened my soul.
I heeded their advice and have focused on language, identity and the pursuit of equity and justice my entire professional life. I have done this as a Spanish teacher, as a writer, as an equity practitioner, and as a supervisor to student teachers.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, this life lesson that my parents imparted to…
On This Day
Facebook has a feature — “On This Day” — that allows for users to see what they posted on that very day x number of years ago. When I first began using Facebook, I used the feature often, and would check it every day. As time wore on, however, I began to feel that it kept me somewhat stuck in the past and less focused on the present.
Ever since Covid-19, I find the idea of looking at the feature depressing and overwhelming. I do not need reminders of when I could spend time with loved ones…
My Mother’s Arms
I press my cheek against the smooth, warm, and yet cool surface of my mother’s arms.
Here, I am safe.
Here, I am loved.
Here is familiar.
I rub my cheek along my mother’s arms and every few moments, kiss her to express the utter contentment and gratitude I feel.
My mother’s arms were my first home outside of the womb.
In my mother’s arms, the rest of the world can be kept at bay.
I have nuzzled my face into the crux of my mother’s arms my entire life.
Covid-19 has stolen this comfort from me.
Out of Sight
On a walk/bike ride with my 10-year-old son today, he rode way ahead of me and was more than once out of sight. Each time I felt my heart momentarily flutter with anxiety and then return to its normal rhythm once my eyes caught his bright blue helmet.
It dawned on me that the older he gets, the more out of sight he will be, and that one day I will no longer be able to set my eyes upon him at all. That is the journey of parenthood — to love and protect, but more than…
I Thought I Knew Tragedy
I thought I knew tragedy.
My father died only two months after being diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
I lost him two days before my son’s 1st birthday.
My mother lost her best friend after 44 years of marriage.
All of those who knew and loved my father lost him cruelly.
I thought all of it was tragic.
But, in the COVID-19 world we now inhabit, the circumstances of my father’s death were far from the tragedy we all see unfolding before us.
My father’s demise took place with his family by his side.
When Breath Ceases
When the breath of a loved one ceases, the pain begins. And it does not end. It remains, in different forms, to different degrees, for the rest of our borrowed time on earth.
Since November 29, 2011, the day breath left my father’s lungs, neither I nor my life have been the same. That is the day my heart broke. It broke and it can never be rearranged to be as it once was.
My father died less than three months after a diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer. It was very sudden, and very traumatic. Although…