Each prayer that slipped from her lips to touch the universe, just for me. If there was such thing as an earthly heaven, this was it. Prayers, just for me. Lindsay. Love and acceptance, purpose and persecution. Punishment and pain. Generations of greatness, of gratitude, of grace. Generations of grace grazed our cheeks during long embraces to escape the emotions that couldn’t be ignored. Put some respect on the name.
Coffee with my grandmother. Her’s black, with sugar, no cream. Nothing like her skin, but much like her soul. Her skin was yellow, like the sun in between spring and summer; not too bright, but warm enough to feel. But her coffee was black, with sugar, no cream. Her soul witnessed history’s pain, but she was passionate, and unmoved. Black, with sugar, no cream.
“Good morning Lindsay, do you want some of my coffee?” she said.
She called me by my given name. No nicknames. Her’s was Carrie. I called her Grandma. She was mine.
“Yes, please grandma. I want mine light, and extra sweet. French Vanilla, please,” I replied.
Her’s black, with sugar, no cream. Mine, sweetened, softer, calmer; much like the life I was afforded due to her sacrifices, due to her submission. The words she couldn’t speak, the yessirs and yesm’s given to whites who wouldn’t last two seconds in the shoes they’d have to squeeze into. History’s sins hanging harshly.
A story laced with pain and pressure, but resolved with resilience and resistance. The able woman, the builder, the mover, the shaker; the woman who does not accept no, and doesn’t think of defeat.
“You will never be Ms. America if you keep falling and scraping your knees,” she would say.
“I don’t want to be Ms. America,” I’d reply.
It looks like I was onto something, no Miss, or Mrs. in Trump’s America.
Seen, and heard always.
“If someone can’t understand you, you repeat yourself. Make sure you’re heard.”
Life and time are circular and cyclical. There are no guarantees and things come and go, as they should. The timelines and trials, often torment, ideals turn into idols, leading us to a place of indecision and escape. I just want my coffee. Not black. I like mine strong, but pour the cream and sugar first, then let the coffee in. Let the sweetness lay, and capture the bitterness and strength of the fresh coffee. Sweet first; strong, thereafter.
Those prayers are the reasons why I am still here. Life lends L’s like it’s trying to lower credit scores. I peep game. Those prayers are why I give my own prayers away so easily, a name and face for each one. A praying woman. A praying black woman. The country, the chaos, and the conviction built on our backs. The first to show up, the last to leave. The first to cry, the last to laugh. The strength of villages, the strategy behind the success. The eyes that roll, and the ears that hear, and the lips that pray.
She gave me the best gifts. The best. Wisdom, conversation, compassion, and courage. Books, blessings, burdens, and brightness. The best gift of them all…it’s not hard to describe. It is everything I could ever hope to be. It is everything I am, and everything I won’t ever be. The best gift I ever received came in human form. Her name is Jennifer.
Geneva, Carrie, Jennifer, Lindsay. In that order. Respect on the names.
Coffee with my grandmother. Her’s black, with sugar, no cream.
Actually, f*ck it, pour the wine…scratch that…I’ll have whiskey on the rocks.