Many in the United States will be celebrating Thanksgiving today.
Unfortunately, there are people who find they do not have anyone to celebrate with. Some cultures recognize today as a day of mourning instead of thanks. There are soldiers who are in foreign countries and cannot share this day with their family. Many people cannot afford to take today off and celebrate thankfulness. And dedicated others are sacrificing their holiday to ensure our communities are safe.
No matter how you honor your values today, remember we are all united by our humanity. When it comes down to it, we are thankful for all of you. Your beliefs, your values, your humor, your pains, your lives.
We thank each and everyone of you for allowing us to share in your worlds, whatever they may look like.
Thank you to those who serve, those who helped shape our understanding of culture, those who sacrifice for others, those who push forward during tough times. You are all amazing. You are amazing.
Not because I can’t say them when they are merited. Not because they can’t be felt deeply in every cavernous crevice of my spirit. But because they were my cage for so long.
I remember being clumsily coerced to apologize to those who ridiculed and hated me. I was compelled to apologize to those who had false impressions of who I was because they never took the time to get to know me. I recall being commanded that I needed to accommodate the feelings of everyone else and continually disregard my own for their sake. Because they mattered.
I’m sorry was my apology for existing. I’m sorry was how I begged to be overlooked so as not to intimidate or unintentionally make anyone feel less than me. I’m sorry was my forced anonymity in a world that erases those who don’t stand up for themselves.
You thought I looked at you harshly. You felt I was judging you.
You felt intimidated by my being a person, no matter how small a person I was.
Why should I be sorry for any of those?
Don’t be a person. Don’t be me. Don’t be. Be sorry. Be less. Be invisible. Because you are sorry and nothing more. You sorry little nothing.
These words choked me into the fetal position and urged me to be unconceived. Because this habit wound its way into my vernacular and decided it belonged. It slipped seamlessly from my tongue time after time. Often still, I say those words before I realize they have been said. To this day, I find myself apologizing for my existence. I find myself asking for forgiveness for my being. For who I am. Allowing others to lessen me so they aren’t forced to grow against their will.
Why should I apologize for my existence? Why should I cower down so you can feel bloated beside me? Because you are not empowered in this. You are not triumphant in this. You are falsely made to feel as though you have won some battle against me. Yet, I was never fighting you in the first place. I was never out to usurp your imaginary power.
I was simply living. Tasting the moments I was blessed to know. Relishing this harsh reality in any infinitesimal way I was allowed because none of us will be here forever and far too many of us are gone far too soon. Far too many memories are never made because we forget the cruelty of time. We forget we are all small in the scheme of things.
Today I tell you all, I love who I am.
I don’t love every regrettable decision I make. I’m not fond of every misstep I muck my way through. I don’t always cherish the experiences that ensnare my world and leave me feeling helpless.
But I love me.
The child who cowered and prayed to be unseen for far too long. The human who waged wars unlike anyone else ever could on myself in the hopes of defeating my existence. The woman who clawed her way through her own skin until I wore it, truly fucking wore it. This woman. This Fearlessly flawed creature who knows I will only ever be this me Today. I will only ever be this young and naive in this moment. I will only ever know this feeling for as long as I hold my breath around it. I will only ever have this chance to do something worth remembering now.
I’m sorry may slip through my lips from time to time. It will land exactly how I intend it to when I have done wrong. But it will never again be used to make me feel less so another can momentarily feel like more than me.
I am not sorry for this Susie. Never again will she be less than everything she has fought to become.
An angel’s wings and ice blue eyes captured my heart this week and I don’t believe I can ever let them fly away from me.
Sunday evening I arrived in White Marsh, Maryland. I made a call to meet up with the Yorks and have our first face to face before we would delve into a long week of work starting Monday morning. I was nervous. My brain was running in a million directions and wondering what I would find myself walking into, I knew the week would be long and full of strategy and more than likely exhausting days, but who would be welcoming me into their world? Would I truly be welcomed? I couldn’t help but feel anxious and hope for the best.
Boy, was I wholly unprepared for the Yorks.
William immediately greeted me with a huge hug and a smile. His first words after our greeting were, “hope you’re ready for some crabs.” I laughed and said, “oh, yea.” When in Maryland, crabs must be had after all. On our way back to their house, we chatted about the humidity and how hot the weather had been for the past few days in Maryland. I had hoped I would be escaping the Arkansas heat, but it seemed I may have unluckily towed it along with me.
When we pulled into their driveway, I looked to the left to see a monument of a rock right in the front yard. I giggled to myself, I mean, what did I expect from the foundation who created the Facebook group Suicide Prevention Rocks? Their walkway lined with a hodgepodge of colored rocks all with uplifting sayings brought a lightness and ease to me. I walked into their foyer, where a variety of different sized shoes had recently been dropped by the front door. I kicked off my heels and commented immediately they must’ve been preparing for the arrival of the Southern Fried Asian. We all laughed at my corny Asian joke. As I walked into the kitchen, I was immediately hugged by Dawn, William’s wife and heart. Saying I was welcomed does not do my first night justice, I found myself watching a family who draws you toward them in the most unintentional but compelling of ways.
After a bit of getting to know each other, they broke out a huge roll of brown parchment paper and covered the dining room table. I noted, “this is getting serious.” We took our seats and jumped into the centerpiece, a huge steaming box of Maryland crabs. The kids showed me how to pick apart a crab Marylander style, everyone brought up family jokes about the importance of not to eating the crab’s lungs, and each of them opened their hearts to me. I was family, on night one and felt nothing less than exactly that for the rest of the week.
Tragedy hits us all too often in this world and it’s aftermath too often destroys those who remain. I knew walking in that tragedy had happened here. I knew this week would be difficult as they were nearing the one year anniversary of the loss of Joshua. I knew I might need to be patient, calm, compassionate, quite possibly forgiving, and so much more because of how difficult this process could be. And yet, I found myself not needing to do any of those things, not because they haven’t felt unflinching pain, but because they have drawn from their love to find strength. They lift one another up and open themselves naturally to others who may be in need of love and acceptance. They are each other’s rocks.
As I write this, I find my eyes full of happiness, joy, and thankfulness. I have felt something beyond myself this week and have had the chance to witness the power love has over pain. We’ve shared unforgettable moments where we each shared some of our deepest pains. We’ve experienced a rainbow of emotions as we worked toward sharing Joshua and his love with as many people as we are allowed.
Nothing is perfect, but this family works and dare I say, makes it look unrealistically easy. They feel, they are gentle and most importantly they are forgiving when they need to be. The Yorks, the family who swerves when a butterfly is in the road. The Yorks, the family who paints rocks in order to heal and bond through tragedy. The Yorks, the family who laughs and loves and welcomes strange Korean women from Arkansas. The Yorks, the family who continues to bring life to their beautiful Joshua.
To say it simply and without flourish, I am amazed by this family and their journey.