The Fragility of Life

“Come celebrate
with me that every day
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.”
– Lucille Clifton

Last week, Saturday, October 3, 2020, I buried my mother.

On Tuesday, September 22nd, we learned she might night make it. That night I spent the night in the basement on the couch watching Grey’s Anatomy episodes with a glass of wine. I couldn’t sleep, but you will inevitably fall asleep on the sofa when you are downstairs in my house. We’ve had the couch for a while, and it has claimed many victims who promised themselves it was not comfortable enough to tame them. What also happens is I lose service down there, and while I drifted, my phone rang and rang, but I couldn’t hear it.

Finally, I went upstairs, and my phone rang again. My heart dropped. There is only one reason people call that early. I accepted my sister’s call and asked, “why are you calling me so early?,” although I already knew the answer.

“It was the twenty-third of September. That day I’ll always remember, yes I will
Cause that was the day that my mama died”

The next day, September 24th my aunt, my late dad’s sister, also passed.

Photo by Irina Iriser on Unsplash

I didn’t talk about it, but my Uncle John passed earlier this year on May 28th, two days after my birthday, and on June 2nd, a dear friend and brother passed.

The world also lost Kobe Bryant, Chadwick Boseman, and Thomas Jefferson Byrd, known best for his role as Luther from Set It Off. He passed the day we buried my mother.

I need no more reminders of how fragile life is, and that’s what sticks out to me the most in my time of silence as I seek to process all this death.

I think we are all aware of this delicacy that is life, but it becomes much more real when a loved one passes. It is then that we realize how insignificant we are and precious too. The insignificance is the weakness of our flesh; how it so easily topples and breaks down. The preciousness is the breath of life, without which we are lumps of clay.

It made me think about how we treat each other. It wasn’t until Yah breathed into Adam the breath of life that he became a living being. We are nothing without this power, and yet, we treat each other as if the breath pulsing through our veins differs from someone else’s. We treat each other as if the Almighty can’t call our spirit back at any moment.

What right do I have to mistreat someone when I return to the Earth just as they will? What right do I have to judge someone’s life or mock their pain when I know that I bleed just as they do?

What right does any of us have to think we are better than anyone else when the sun rises and falls on all of us, righteous and wicked, alike?

There are so many promises we make to one another at times, such as this. We promise to be there for one another, we promise to keep in touch, and we promise to appreciate the time we have.

But these promises do not last and are only remembered at the next funeral.

Our life is like the wind, a breeze that comes and goes. How I wish we could be consciously aware of our own lives’ fragility as we live and not only in death.


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The Sound of Silence

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Image Credit: Andrew Alexander, Unsplash

There’s a lot going on in the world right now so I sit here wondering what to write to you, bathed in solitude and fishing for a thought. Let the noisy silence of second hands and chirping birds lend me the inspiration needed to write. Let the calm of the rain suicide its face onto my windowsill, onto shingled rooftops, ripping puddles or perhaps it’ll just melt itself into the concrete. Have you ever just sat back and listened to silence? It is hypocritically noisy. I can hear the laughter of locust and the singing of birds as they intercourse themselves into the wind. This noisy wind. It whistles and shouts and spreads its hum across the troposphere just silent enough for us not to notice amidst the growling of car engines and groaning of electricity. If you listen closely enough you’ll hear angels sing. The language of angels is in the wind. Give me not the physical right now. Not the booming lyric of music, or the chatter of distraction. Give me focus and attention so I may snag a thought from the roaring voices of spirit and of memory hanging from the pictures on my wall. We are familiar with the sound of noise, but not the noise of silence. Not the tickle of an idea brushing past our thoughts or the seductive wooing of trees to wind. The giggling fabric against the windowsill. The peaceful lullabies of daylight. Indeed, nature has its way of suckering us out of quiet, but what a wonderful stillness.