This week, we lost another significant loved one in our lives. We are loosing all of our elders, our wise ones, our history keepers, the glue that has kept our families together for so many years.
Am I sad? No. I cannot be sad for those who have moved on after suffering from pain and illness. It would be selfish of me to want them to stay with us. I grieve everyday for the loss of my dad, my father in-law, my aunts and uncles and those who were close enough to us to be called our family. I am pissed that time was cut short. I am angry that my children will not have more time with these amazing people. I am annoyed with myself for the things I should have said, had I known my time was running out.
My heart feels empty on Father’s day. I miss the Zydeco dancing on Christmas and the cornbread dressing on Thanksgiving. Our vacations seem shorter with fewer aunts and uncles to visit when we are in town. Now we make one trip to the cemetery to briefly chat with our loved ones and tell them how much we miss them.
Most of all I am afraid. It scares me to live a life without such significant influences surrounding me. These larger than life people were our safety nets, our voices of reason, our cheerleaders throughout our lives. It scares me that such big shoes were left to fill. Can we do this? Are we ready? Did we listen to all of the wisdom they bestowed upon us? Did we remember all of the life lessons they taught us? Will we be able to hold our families together with the same strength, kindness, generosity and command for respect?
The fear has taken over. Are we now ready to step up and be the elders in our family? Growing up, I never played this scenario through my mind. I saw myself with a family and children, a career, a future, but I never saw this coming…truly growing up, truly being an adult, stepping into a family role that was held by those I respected so much they almost seemed immortal to me.
I know we were raised right. I know we were given the tools we now need to move forward and continue the family legacy. I know we may stumble at first, but we will all come together for the sake of our families, to keep us strong and to carry on. Our histories will have to be remembered, stories will have to be retold, new memories will have to be made and family names will have to be handed down to another generation. I don't want to disappoint. I am so very afraid.
We didn’t know it when we were growing up, but we were being groomed for this moment. We were bred for this life’s work. All of the lectures, sighs, eye rolls and harsh life lessons were all for this moment…. the moment when we look at ourselves and wonder, “Can we go on?” “Can we pick up the pieces?” “Can we continue to build our family up and support each other?” It doesn’t seem like we have much choice. This is the job that has been handed to us, from those who came before us, just like it was handed to them. This is our future, our destiny, our calling. We will keep going, we will keep living, we will keep loving and we will keep the spirit of our loved ones forever alive in our hearts.
"If you could see your ancestors
All standing in a row,
Would you be proud of them or not?...
But here's another question
Which requires a different view
If you could meet your ancestors
Would they be proud of you?
~Nellie Winslow Simmons Randall