I listened to this poem on Ted Talks and it's the backbone question "What will you tell your daughters..." that motivated me the most to change.
She is speaking about a year, and I, a lifetime.
When something happens in our lives, we always have a choice and that choice will reflect who we are, who we stood for and what mattered most. It echoes not only in our lifetime; but becomes the legacy of our family.
"When she asks you of this year, your daughter, whether your offspring or heir to your triumph, from her comforted side of history teetering towards woman, she will wonder and ask voraciously, though she cannot fathom your sacrifice, she will hold your estimation of it holy, curiously probing, "Where were you? Did you fight? Were you fearful or fearsome? What colored the walls of your regret? What did you do for women in the year it was time? This path you made for me, which bones had to break? Did you do enough, and are you OK, momma? And are you a hero?" She will ask the difficult questions." Chinaka
I do ask the difficult questions, I want to know.
How you answer, is who you are.
Over the past many years siblings come in and we struggle to connect.
I wondered if it was my expectation....and then, even, what an expectation was.
Its definition, "a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future."
Where we fall short with each other is how we answered the tough questions?
It isn't about denial as much as I once concluded, but rather their answers to life's questions; and mine.
As my mother's daughter, I did want to know.
I didn't want to know how short my mother fell from being my hero.
Or my sisters...
"She will not care about the arc of your brow, the weight of your clutch. She will not ask of your mentions. Your daughter, for whom you have already carried so much, wants to know what you brought, what gift, what light did you keep from extinction? When they came for victims in the night, did you sleep through it or were you roused? What was the cost of staying woke? What, in the year we said time's up, what did you do with your privilege? Did you sup on others' squalor? Did you look away or directly into the flame? Did you know your skill or treat it like a liability? Were you fooled by the epithets of "nasty" or "less than"? Did you teach with an open heart or a clenched fist? Where were you?" Chinaka
This poem answered for me the hard question of why am I so reluctant to re-build bridges, walkways, pathways, connections with my estranged family.
We would answer this poem differently.
We are different in the areas, that I find extremely important.
Our estrangement is not shallow.
The answers I receive don't inspire me for connection.
I am proud of how I answer this poem.
I can speak my truth of courage and the cost of staying awake.
"Tell her the truth. Make it your life. Confirm it. Say, "Daughter, I stood there with the moment drawn on my face like a dagger, and flung it back at itself, slicing space for you." Tell her the truth, how you lived in spite of crooked odds. Tell her you were brave, and always, always in the company of courage, mostly the days when you just had yourself. Tell her she was born as you were, as your mothers before, and the sisters beside them, in the age of legends, like always."
"Tell her she was born just in time, just in time to lead."
What will you tell your daughters, sisters, friends....?