I was sitting in the bookstore and I was having one of those moment days where I couldn’t understand what I was doing in this world and why I was still alive. I wanted to know how come my parents died when I was so young. I was sick of living and sick of having to always fight so damn hard to stay alive. I was tired of being everyone’s ATM machine. I wanted to feel like I belonged somewhere and I was a part of something.

            Normally when I feel myself starting to sit down on those self-loathing wooden steps, I will search out Langston Hughes. The poem “Mother to Son” becomes my mantra. I love how the mother in the poem acknowledges that her son is being tested by the things in his life, but instead of yelling at him or lecturing him, she tells her son to get up because she has been tested by life as well and the only thing a person can do is keep fighting. I have been both the mother and the son in that poem and that could also explain my devotion to the poem. I’ve let the hard things in my life wash over me to the point I’ve sat down. I needed the reminder of how we all get tested and we just need to keep fighting. I’ve also watched my son go through his tough times and when he sat down, I wanted not to lecture him or make him feel worse for sitting down, I wanted him to know I’ve been through it too and he needs to fight now more than ever.

            So, while I was in the bookstore, I searched out the poetry section and grabbed a Langston Hughes collection of poems book. I sat down in the café and started searching for the “Mother to Son” poem to rejuvenate myself and my spirit. Instead I found the poem, “Still Here”.

“They done tried to make me/Stop laughin’, stop lovin’, stop livin’/But I don’t care!/I’m still here” Langston Hughes, “Still Here”.

            In life, we don’t always get what we want; we get what we need. That day in the bookstore I didn’t need to be reminded to get my sorry ass up off the wooden staircase; I needed to be told I was still here. I’m not the one buried in the ground. I have to stop acting like my life should stop because my parents’ lives did stop. I am still here. Things in life will try to stop me from laughing and loving people. After the death of my parents, I refused to let anyone get close to me. It took eleven years for me to open up my heart once again to unconditional love. The world will do its worse to keep me from living my life the way I want to live. All types of obstacles will get in the way. But all of that doesn’t matter because at the end of the day, I get to go to bed and, hopefully, I wake up the next day.  

            I know I am still here; but, I don’t know why I am still here. My religion taught me that God does as He pleases and no one has the right to question him. When I was nine, I certainly did have a few words for God. I remember as my dad was dying in the hospital from injuries sustained in a car accident, I wrote God a letter telling Him how much I loved and needed my dad. I made it perfectly clear I didn’t think my father should die. Eight days later, my dad did die and I lost all hope in God. No one could explain why my dad died; it was just God’s will. My mother would remind me every other day things happened for a reason. When she died, I was beyond pissed at God and I kept searching for the reason this happened to me. Why would God leave me in this world and take my parents? Why was I still in this world?

            I’m never going to know the complete reason why I am in this world. I don’t think any of us really will find that answer. At times, I see glimmers of reasons why I am here. My father always wanted to be a writer. In seventh grade, I found out I saw things in this world no one else could and I was able to write all of my observations down and relay it to others. I’m carrying the writing torch for him. My mother, she was a frightening woman but she cared for others when no one else saw the beauty in that person. I have that same gift; I find the beauty and hope in people most others have written off.

            If my parents never died when I was young, I might not ever have noticed their gifts inside of me. I never would have started writing. I never would have opened my heart to that little boy everyone else was so afraid of because he was just “so bad”. If I look at things in those terms, I can see my mother was right. My life happened as it did so I could be here for others. Those events had a purpose and a reason far above just hurting me.

            But, why am I here? I don’t know. All I know is that I am still here.

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