For many days, hours, months, and even years, I have practiced the art of silence. I prayed in the temple of my own solitude, and the closet walls of home. Within that practice I honed the craft of listening, expanding the practicum of understanding, perception, and seeing beyond the sight of immediate experience. In this moment, it is no longer of practicality to sustain silence, especially now in a time of tumultuous reign & upheaval.
This past month I have celebrated great heights, joys, and celebration, only to descend into deep sorrow, unbearable sadness, and tragic grieving. In one moment, I was walking the paved paths of academia at UCLA commencement full of joy and well earned accomplishment with my beautiful extended family at my side. In the next I was sitting at my beloved Grandmother’s bedside witnessing her life slip through our fingers. How could I have known the heartache that would come with the responsibilities of commencing from adolescence to becoming a grown Woman?
While I am filled with anguish, grief, sadness, resentment, and yes, anger, I am also resolved in the truth that I know my Grandma Lois is renewed in the light of everlasting power & Immaculate Love. Truly, she was the light of my life. A stone & shield that provided me shade, protection, and strength when I was weak, broken, and bruised by a world that often casts judgement upon those who choose to walk a path outside of convention.
Likewise, my Grandmother was a trailblazer, a unique & original American Woman who raised the bar. She set the standard on what can be accomplished with a mind full of ambition, and the incapacity to quit in the face of gender discrimination. She modeled to me and all those who knew her what perseverance & determination looked like. Though she never made any claims to political convictions outside of her lifelong republican conservatism, she was absolutely a Womanist in all respects and never failed to demonstrate what a Woman was capable of. When I say that I am a descendent of a Matriarchal family, I invoke the generations of Women who have sustained, supported, and continued the legacy of those who came before them. I am honored to be a part of this Living Herstory, and write our heritage into existence.
At her home in Norwalk, a community of Los Angeles where she & my Grandfather raised their family, Grandma Lois planted a small garden that grew into a California oasis. Within that space of a homeowner’s property and backyard privacy, Lois laid down roots of a dozen beautiful roses, camellias, and herbs. Pots of plants line her shaded patio providing relief from the relentless California sun, and fresh clean oxygen from the polluted overcast of pink chemical sunset skies. In the days after Grandma relinquished the body that had carried her through eighty-five beautiful years, the body that served as her vessel to create the vision she had been compelled to manifest, the roses came alive in a festive bloom of celebration & renewal. It is nothing short of miraculous to behold consistent beauty, sentient knowledge, and immortal regeneration. The roots of those resilient radiant roses are deep & extensive, having grown in rich California soil. Their soft & vibrant colors are shaded by countless untold memories of my Grandma Lois in her garden watering & showering each of them with sustained care & love. I have never witnessed such a commitment & confirmation of life as I have in my Grandma’s Spirit.
Now that she is gone, I am left in her memory. Many times, more than I care to recall, I felt invisible – neglected, abandoned, alone, stranded in the desolate landscape of my own body. In those years it was only my Grandma who lifted me up, cared for & comforted me, pointing out the sunlight beckoning over the horizon, and the rainbows descending from grey overcast. She taught me the unique power of grace & perseverance, patience & action, kindness & compassion. I’m not quite sure how I will overcome my grief, but I sustain unshakable faith & trust that my Grandmother has transformed herself within a higher state of consciousness, and within that transcendent space will continue to guide me.
To my Grandmother, Lois Margaret Lindsey-Henry – I love you eternally & forever. I promise to speak on your life, share in our living memories, teach those who come after how far we have come, and lead where we must go in our collective future.
With this, I relinquish silence & cast it out as something that can no longer serve me at this time in my life. In Honor of my Grandma Lois, I will speak the words that pass through my mind & imagination. I will Voice the discontent, my critical opinion, dissent, rebellions, optimism, joys, happiness, and love I have for this world, community & Family.
With Gratitude & Love, I leave you to it.