“You Did Right By Yourself, Ain’t No Other Way To Live.”
“You did right by yourself, ain’t no other way to live.” Chadwick Boseman as James Brown
The summer my mom died I lost about thirty pounds. It’s been four years and I remember that summer as if it happened yesterday. It’s strange because I can’t remember what happened last week. And yet, those memories will forever be permeated on my brain.
It was the summer Kanye’s “ My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” dropped. I was obsessed with being an ultra girlie girl and I wore copious amounts of weave and makeup. But the thing I remember most was the smells. The smell of the cancer ward on the top floor of Northwestern Memorial hospital, the smell of the wind coming off of Lake Michigan as my best friend and I sped down Lake Shore Drive. We were desperately trying to hold on to the innocence of being]young and free, right on the cusp of adulthood. And still, though unsaid we recognized that we would never be innocent again. That summer marked the end of my childhood. As the summer trudged forward I slept less and less, my once tight fitting clothes hung off of me, and I painted my mother’s nails for the last time trying desperately to come to terms with her impending death. After twenty years those were to be my final days with her.
And even today, right now as I write this I can still smell the cancer ward. It's as if the disease seeped in to the walls and the floors of that building. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever smelled before, not like the maternity ward or even the nursing home I visited as a child. It was because of that smell that I didn’t eat. Every time I looked at food I was reminded, and I was disgusted and heartbroken, my stomach churned. So I drank coffee and alcohol, and stayed out all night,and worked and sat with my mother.
Even that summer, I was able cope, to press forward, to deal, despite what was happening around me. Perhaps I’ve worn myself down or maybe my nerves are just shot from the stress and overuse of the past few years. I recently found myself in a situation where my stomach was once again in knots, the constant stress and anxiety was literally eating away at me. I began questioning myself and my capabilities. (I’ll admit I’ve only ever truly been a disaster at a few things in my life fractions, physics, geometry and calculus. Everything else I pretty much get after a few tries.) The constant throbbing in my stomach and my perpetual anxiety wasn’t allowing me to think clearly. I started buying into the things that were said to me and about me.
And then after a particularly trying day a good friend called me up and we chatted for awhile and she expressed to me that she had been in a very similar situation and it took just that conversation to make me snap out of this reverie that had been consuming me.
|#blessed & grateful|
I’ve realized that people will try and tell you how to live or what choices to make, but at the end of the day you have to do what's best for you. You can’t let other people’s anger and dissatisfaction with their lives affect you because it will take root into your soul. Quite frankly, it’s none of your black ass business nor is it your place to become the vessel onto which they spew their negativity.
Happiness is everything to me, the joy that I find in a day is what keeps me pressing forward. Those memories, those images and that smell will always be with me, but I’m less easily haunted when I’m living in the light.