Seven years. It’s been seven years since you passed away, but I can’t shake my need for you. Whenever things go wrong it’s your name that I instinctively call upon. Mama. No matter the situation I think of you as the solution. If only Mama was here it would be different, I tell myself. But you’re not here, and I live with the knowledge that what I crave the most has slipped beyond my grasp forever. On days like today your premature death is a burden that I feel I cannot bear, and there are no words to describe how desperately I need you.

Your words to me on my first day of school still echo in my ears. I still feel the warmth and pride in your eyes as you watched me get ready to go out with my friend when I was seventeen years old. “You’re just so pretty and petite, my dark and beautiful little girl!” While others in our family gossiped about me for wearing my hair natural, you instead supported me and even encouraged me to grow locs. When I became pregnant outside of marriage and chose to continue you didn’t question or judge me as others did.

Through everything you remained my champion, and not having you here makes life feel so desolate at times. Today was one of those days, and as I fought traffic I couldn’t help but cry as I thought of the pain of losing you. But in the midst of my pain I remembered your strength. I realized that no matter how weak, desperate, hopeless and battered I may feel by life, you would not want me to give up. So I refuse to. I wiped the tears away, touched up my foundation and greeted your granddaughter with a smile so big and bright that it concealed the fact that I’d just bawled my eyes out. For though I don’t have you with me physically I have the memory of the warmth of your love and the strength of your will, and with that I can get by.

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A native Seattleite and East Coast transplant, I have been interested in politics, religion, and race from the day I saw “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” on the bookshelf belonging to my BFF’s mom back in 1991. While my zealotry has thankfully diminished with maturity, I remain the deep thinking, passionate, and humble woman I have always been.

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