It’s Quiet Uptown

I don’t think I’ve posted this much on my blog since 2013-14. I don’t think I’ve needed to write so bone deep badly since then.

Whew. It’s been a month, hasn’t it? It’s been a year. I keep hoping it’s all a horrible fever-dream. At least November. It seems so impossible so much grief could exist in 30 days.

But, for the first time since Wednesday, this grief I’m carrying in my heart feels pure. It’s not weighted down with extra stress and anxiety. You, my community, did that.

God, what have I ever done to deserve that? To deserve you?

I’m still so floored by it. So overwhelmed with gratitude. When my mama confessed her anxieties to me, when I took them on as my own as we’ve always done, I paced with it. I started doing sweaty math, calculating bills, wondering, even while knowing the answer, if we could take on another. I started thinking of all those letters from the bank about loans I’d ripped up and tossed over the months. I looked around my house and wondered what I could pawn. How much money could I get for my things? Not enough. Not enough.

I’d pulled up gofundme and stared at it. I never ask anyone who didn’t give birth to me for anything. It’s been bred into me and I’ve taken it to almost obsessive levels. I could be laying there with a mortal wound and I’d wave off the first offers to help me. It took me years to ask even Betty for much more than to pick me up something from the store. I want others to see me as strong. Capable. Somewhere in my head, strength became intertwined with not needing help. Suffering stoic-like anywhere but within my own walls.

I want to be an inspiration. Not a tragedy. And never a charity case.

But this time, it was bigger than me. It was my core family. The Girls, as we called ourselves. I’d burn the earth for them. Bare my chest and let the masses see my wounds if it meant easing theirs.

So I filled it out. Paced, literally, for another two hours. Then finally took that deep breath and posted it.

And it took off.

People, god so many many people, pushed it. Offered things in exchanges for donations. (Poems, stories, books, CUSTOM INSULTS.) People vouched for me. Hard. Too hard. “Oh my God please don’t I’m not worth that I haven’t earned that” hard. The response was swift and fierce and I never had to creep back and repost the link, something that filled me with dread because asking for help once is hard enough, but having to repeatedly ask is humiliating on a level that makes my gut twist and my throat feel clogged and hot just thinking about it.

But I didn’t have to. Because other people did. You all did. You begged, pleaded, reminded. You told me to sit down and you had it. Had me. Had mine.

I’m still so overwhelmed by it, I don’t even know how to respond individually to everyone. Because thank you is so paltry in the face of so much compassion.

I never thought. I never believed. I never expected.

I never dreamed I was worth such a response. I never dreamed, for even a second, that I was worth people showing up like that. That kinda thing happens to other, more important, people. My job, my role, was supposed to be side support or infantry. Not this. Never this.

Because the money, yes. I can’t properly put into words what kind of weight has been lifted off of us. Because it fell on us, like it often did. And we’d always found a way to manage whatever it was. Between the four of us, me, my mama, my gramma, and my sister, we’d always always managed. “We got this” could be our family motto. We’d stopped asking for any kind of assistance from family, we knew we’d mostly be met with indifference. Or someone would come in and make it worse. So tight, so capable, so enduring was our little family, it took me a shamefully long time to even trust my stepdad when he stepped into the picture.

But when four became three, when that critical space in our circle stepped away, slipped off, never to rejoin us here, we were instantly lost.

And you guys found us.

This is already long. That keeps happening. Like the tears, the urge to talk comes in waves. And like the tears, once I start, I can’t seem to stop.

And I can’t seem to stop here. Can’t seem to stop saying thank you. My heart is heavy with grief and full with gratitude.

I’ve already let everyone see so much, so much more than I’d normally let anyone but a very small few see, but I’m gonna let a bit more of my naked nerve-endings, my brittle heart, show.

I often, so so often, feel small and unimportant. I always have, if I’m being honest. Unless I’m with The Girls, I often feel as if I could slip away and no one would notice. It’s always been my mama and gramma and, later, my Plus One and Wifey in my ears, building me up, up, up, making me bigger, stuffing steel in my spine so I stood straighter, stronger. Wrapping their arms around me when I came back bruised and battered and mending my wounds and reminding me of my fire. All the good things about myself that the world often stripped out of my hands.

Losing my Gramma is devastating on so many, many levels, and that’s just one item on a very long list. I lost the woman who’d always took my hand in her much softer one and soothed me when I felt teeny and invisible. Like a speck of dust that could float away.

But as y’all rushed to see that our financial goals were met, you also filled me up with the kindest, loveliest words. Over and over, y’all said that I was important. Loved. Appreciated. You made me feel big when grief was battering my shoulders, shoving me to the ground, making me feel small and helpless and lost. I couldn’t call my Girls to build me back up. The remaining two were on their knees too. But y’all flooded forward to meet even that need, without it having ever been voiced.

How? How will I ever thank you enough for that? For all of that? How do I thank you for making me feel so big when I was at my smallest?

I’m standing today, a little shaky, unsteady, and the tear tracks on my swollen cheeks are fresh and will probably be that way for awhile. But I’m on my feet. I’m up. And y’all did that.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

I love you. I appreciate you. And I promise to work twice as hard in this community I love. I promise to pay this kindness forward.

I promise to slay trolls twice as hard. Oh, man. I’m gonna destroy them.

For y’all.

Because no one messes with Auntie’s babies.
I’m gonna close this out with words from my mama:

Love you all so much. To the moon and back. Go drink some water, okay? 😙


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