Well, Mama, I did it. I took that step off my balcony. The same balcony you affixed yourself to throughout your life, waiting for your boat to come up the river to take you away.
Like you, I’ve spent a lifetime looking out over the moving water, life appearing to pass me by… but not really. There were people who needed to be taken care of, who needed me, children to raise, survival to be met. You go from ill prepared to take care of yourself to even more ill prepared to take care of anyone else. And yet when life demands, you do it.
I did the best I could. I know you did too.
Always, I had answered, “Not yet”. Today, I said, “Yes, now”.
But now, the river current is picking up. In my growing-older bones, I feel like I want to slow down, but even in my fatigue I know there’s no way in hell I’m going to. The current flows and calls out to me. I had to answer it.
There’s a bend in the river, beyond our sight. I’ve always known it was there. You heard it calling and thought it was coming from the past. I hear it and know it’s from the future.
Always, I had answered, “Not yet”.
Today, I answer “Yes, now”.
Mama, release my hand. There’s no need to protect me… or yourself.
Can you not feel the feathers? They begin to emerge from my fingers, heavy bones becoming hollow with the promise of flight and the appearance of vistas I have only dreamed of.
Don’t be afraid. I will grow my wings.
You taught me how… to sweep story and colors onto canvas, onto paper, into words, trusting the process, not knowing where it will take you…
Because without knowing it, you taught me how — all those nights hunched over your paintings in the kitchen, while everyone slept, except one small daughter who stood in the hallway, watching you, witnessing the transformation of exhausted, subdued woman to fierce warrior artist passionately, unapologetically co-creating with God.
You taught me this.
You taught me to stand on holy ground, to enter the sacred heart of the church where women are not allowed and claim it for your own. You taught me how to carve out time and space, to let my heart beat in the middle of the night, to let my artistic vision bleed through my fingers, to sweep story and colors onto canvas, onto paper, into words, trusting the process, not knowing where it will take you, just going… going.
And now, I am going, trusting the empty space beneath my feet, the unknown at the bend, listening to the wind rushing past my ears and somehow I hear your voice, unchained by your human sorrows, telling me not to fear it or fight it, telling me to loosen my grip on struggle, telling me to open my arms… fly.
Like the graceful cliff diver at the pinnacle of the leap, like the child at the top of the stairs jumping into her father’s arms, like the first time I picked up the pen or sat at the typewriter or left my job.
I fall now…
~ Keeping the Dream