Maya Angelou ~ April 4, 1928, St. Louis, MO ~ May 28, 2014, Winston-Salem, NC

Maya Angelou ~ April 4, 1928, St. Louis, MO ~ May 28, 2014, Winston-Salem, NC

This week, one of my hero’s passed on.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Statement from Dr. Maya Angelou’s Family:

Dr. Maya Angelou passed quietly in her home before 8:00 a.m. EST. Her family is extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension. She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace. The family is extremely appreciative of the time we had with her and we know that she is looking down upon us with love.

Guy B. Johnson


Steady heartbeats

Nothing ever made more sense
Than to imagine the leaves blow
To feel the rush in the wind
And let all my worries go

Nothing ever felt more right
Than dreaming of the seas
Thinking of a better place
Of where I’m meant to be

Tossing and turning in my sleep
I was pressed for time
And eager to leave
Muffling out the noises of screams
As she sank deeper and heavier
Into disease

Clock was ticking
Night was falling
And the footsteps got lighter
As she fell to her knees
My escape was drawing nearer
My anticipation peaked

Shuffling through the darkened hall
Finding ways to cheat the creaks
Hoping my heartbeat would silence
Enough to tame the beast
Holding breathe and streaming tears
Almost found the light

And just like rebirth
Out of the cage
The pavement led me
Far away
Knowing anywhere is
Safe to hide
Rather to be alone
Than stuck inside

Fly away doll
Fly far away from home
She can no longer hurt you
Your out on your own.


The funeral

  The air is suffocating. You choke up at all the memories flashing through your mind. The good, the bad, and the ugly. You think of all the things should have, could have and would have said. You remember your childhood. Your mother or fathers laugh. The way they smelled. The facial expressions they made when they were happy. Sad. Even the way it felt to be hugged. Your teen years. You remember that you are now in your twenties. And this day came too soon.

I remember the way she smelled. The way she looked when she was depressed. I knew what mood she would be in by the feel of the house when I came home. I knew what made her insecure. What chilled her to the bone. I knew the hot, burning liquid that cooled her to the core. That was her only real buddy, her bottles. The only thing she could trust to make sense at the end of her exhausted work day.

I remember his eyes. The way you could see into his soul. I knew all his childhood memories. His adventures and mishaps while growing up. I knew his pain and anguish. His paranoia. His disconnection from others because they never quite understood him like I did. No one ever listened as well as I did nor gave advice out for handling awkward human interactions with possible romantic interests. No one tolerated his anger fits as well. His manic and messy state of living.

They were both alone. Literally but also mentally. They once had each other to share the bitter exhaust of addiction and self inflicted violence. They had each other to bounce back humiliating childhood failures and enemy stories of who did them worse. They shared a bond of depression and solitude. And called it love.

I remember wanting to die. To be anywhere but next to them. After a while, I could see he was repulsed by me. I could hear it in his mood. He had a strange way of conveying his love. His possession. He wanted me to be myself. To let me dress and express myself however I want. To be mature. To be older. To be in control. I think he admired it. Its what he lacked. He felt proud maybe that he could watch me grow and make my own choices. Without having to put a foot down or take anything away. There weren’t many rules. Or advice for the predicaments I fell into. The men I fell towards. It all was OK. I was making my own choices and learning. So his parenting was not required. He could get to be the friend. Which consisted of jealousy, opposition, mind games and ultimately betrayal. Friends are not like family. Friends have the option to bail. So walking on eggshells was my life.

She was not a friend. She was not a sister. Or a partner. She did not carry the responsibility of any of those roles because it meant caring too much. She had no comprehension of how to act out relationships. Relationships meant taking a risk. Putting too much on the line. Exerting too much emotion to an empty shell only left me broken. It was like trying to decide if I should stay on the deserted island and die of heat stroke or jump into the dark waters and drown. Either not enough or too much. Both gave me no option or encouragement to fly…

The funny thing about having flashbacks is they don’t seem to have a cohesive order. There is no formal style to it but rather like lightening, it strikes at you with its own direction and precision. And as anticipated, it hurts.
When I remember anything about them, its not triggered sweet emotions. Its fast and hard like a storm. Its trying to recreate good memories out of shattered glass. I can never quite pick up the pieces enough to recreate the picture. The one I wish was painted on my canvas in the first place. But that’s how life is. We do not have the option to create our past. Some people believe as premortal babies, we have the option of parents as we peer down from heaven. We have a divine purpose from conception, to be sent down and make that life meaningful. I am a skeptic at times.

It is not false that they are gone. Its not only the misplacement of their location. The problem is the died a long time ago. The parts of them that made them whole. And able to function. They are like shadows. Slowly moving through the motions of every day, with not much feeling or desire to face reality. It would be too much for them to face all they have done. To have to be held accountable for the lives they have ruined, the enemies that they have made and the episodes they have caused. Both have been sentenced to live empty lives. That’s not much of a life at all.

One day I am going to have to attend two funerals. It will be expected of me. The only child. To say some words and share some encouragement about laying each body to rest. I will tell myself a million times that I cannot go. That I will not bring my new family. My children. I will battle, with anger, all the reasons I should hold grudges and reject their families for all I experienced. And then what? I will have to go. But it will be closure. I always knew something was wrong. I dealt with it. I cleaned up the messes. I grew up fast. And without their guidance or approvals. I grew up on my own terms. Its what I did to survive. What they do to survive is hide. For so long they have hidden and now they cannot even find themselves.

Some day I will get ready for those funerals. But I will be OK. I will know that they died a very long time ago.
Each were battling so many things that they could not handle reality. So on that day I will finally have the closure they never gave me. I will feel at peace with being my own person. And not the person I could have been.