Why can’t you play at my house?

There are things I know to be true.

Love is love.  Love is important.  Love is life

Hate is ….  I guess I can’t think of a word bad enough to describe it.  Evil.  Dark.  Destructive.

I know my family loves me.  My children and my Prairie love me unconditionally.

I know my extended family “love” me.  I am not quite as certain it is unconditional.  Maybe they just think I am delusional.  The last few months have been difficult with them.  Losing my sister was very rough.  I experienced prejudice from family and it hurt.  My beliefs – political and religious- are different than theirs.  I accept this as integral to a positive relationship without judging them.  Some have shown they do not feel the same toward me.

Today, I took to task the idea of hate.  I posted on Facebook a very serious question regarding privilege and Colin Kaepernick.  For the most part it was a civil discussion.  For that, in light of the facebook world, I am grateful.  I learned a hard truth.

Those that refuse to see that racism is real, may never see it is real.  I saw in responses from some individuals was that any reason to avoid the message that hate fuels racism is accepted.

Be angry that standing during a musical piece did not happen, ignore the message why.  Refocus the issue to be a slight to those who served in the military protecting the right to sit and protest.  But whatever you do, do NOT address the reason the protest happened.  Racism is real.  Be offended by the protest actions, ignore the message why.  Racism is real.  Be offended that the protester is rich, ignore the message why.  Racism is real.

When I was in third grade in Ft. Walton Beach Florida in 1968, my best friend at school had dark skin.  She could draw so beautifully, I gave her my crayons just to watch what she could create.  She had ebony skin, white teeth and hair that would do anything it wanted.  Mine was straight straight straight and almost colorless blonde.  I wanted her hair.  I wanted her to teach me how to draw.  I wanted to sit next to her at lunch.

I would invite her over to my house A LOT.  Daily.  Come play, let’s make art, let’s be friends.  She always declined with a bit of sadness.  I told her that my mom could drive, it would be fun.  Finally she said “we can only be friends at school.  I can’t come over to your house after school.  Your people don’t like me because of my skin.”

Your people don’t like me because of my skin.  In third grade.  Eight years old.  Your people don’t like me because of my skin.  I am now 48 years older than I was then.  I can still hear her words.  My heart breaks for the loss of friendship, for the tragedy of hate in her life.  To grow up feeling like you had to choose limited or no friendship “because of my skin”.

I have carried her words my entire life since then.  I will carry them always.  They are my mantra as I work to understand how I can change the little bits that build a barrier between two small girls who wanted to be friends.

So if Colin Kaepernick wants to sit during the National Anthem at a football game (at which the avarice is for another topic) to scream silently in a peaceful non-violent protest about systemic, institutionalized racism in this country that I love, that my many family members dedicated their sacred honor to, I will not fault him.  I will honor their sacrifices to this country in distress and ask the why?  I will engage in conversations to say “what can we do to make a change?”  I will work to elect individuals who will legislate to level those barriers.  I will lobby for funding for programs, services, and education.  I will say BlackLivesMatter.  I will say change begins with me.


Time travels… or does it?

Time is linear.  You cannot go back.  Once experienced, it is forever and move on.
All lessons gleaned in the days of youth to understand the human existence.

But is it?  Linear I mean.  In the days since my sister Christine died, I have spent a great deal of time visiting previous experiences.  Not literally of course, but in my memory.  Each just a fresh and real as the actual event.  Some wonderful, some annoying, some brutally painful.

Truth is I miss her.  For several years leading up to her death, she struggled with her health.  Her physical health and as a result her mental health.  It was a struggle for our extended family helping her and dealing with her.  So many “close calls” where she was pulled back from that threshold until she was not pulled back.

We loved her enough to come running to her side each and every time.  We also loved her enough to openly question “was this the best thing for her?”  Were the struggles she faced, and we faced in supporting her ultimately to the fulfillment of her life?  It hurt to see and experience the whole of her existence.

My sister was a vibrant person when she was healthy.  Granted she could be a colossal pain in the ass too, but she was generally giving and loving.  I miss that.

She and I were not especially close as children.  In fact there were times, she was wicked enough and made my life a living hell.  As adults we reconciled that behavior and she sincerely and humbly apologized.  It was a watershed moment and we became very close.   She helped make me feel part of our family after many years of walking on the fringe (emotionally so to speak.)  We confided in each other, and bounced ideas off each other.  This is not to say she did not completely piss me off at at times, and I have voicemails to prove I did the same for her.

In my eulogy to her I reminded myself and our family, she was a human being first and foremost.  Full of flaws and blemishes, and beauty and brilliance.  She walked those last few years bearing the trials of this mortal life with as much grace as she could.

I hope I can follow her example.  I miss you Chris.

My world is…

What is my world?  In the last six months, so much has occurred in my world that at times I wonder “WTF?”.  No seriously.  WTF?!!!

Family has always been central to my life.  My nuclear family, as fractured as it has been over the last years, was the safe harbor as a military brat growing up.  The last six months it feels, to me, as if the fates have been beating the hell out of the poppets that represent my family of origin.  Seriously.  Enough already.  Let some of the bruises heal.

More later.