It’s the middle of summer and I’m happy to be with my mama before school starts back. Today we’re at her friend Walter’s house and I’m playing with his son. This boy has Castle Grayskull and all the people to go with it. But he doesn’t want to let me into his room. He says no girls are allowed in there. I try telling my mama that he won’t let me play in his room, and he’s in there playing with He Man toys without me. She doesn’t understand the severity of the situation. I decide to take actions into my own little hands. I knock on the door and tell this brat that his daddy said he wants to talk to him in the backyard. Walter isn’t even at home.
The boy falls for it and runs into the kitchen towards the back door, leaving his bedroom open. I rush in and quickly close the door, fumbling for a lock. I’ll show him. Turns out the door doesn’t have a lock so I push a chair under the door knob like I’ve seen on TV. I have all the characters to myself, and all of Castle Grayskull. I hear him run inside and ask my mama where his daddy is. She tells him that his daddy ran out and will be back soon. I laugh to myself when he tries to open the door and it sticks. I don’t even say a word. I just keep playing with She Ra.
After a long day of showing this kid who’s boss, I climb onto a brown couch and Mama covers me with a blanket. She walks away and returns with a flattened pillow in a green case. She tucks the pillow under my head. I close my eyes. She kisses my forehead and says she loves me. I love her too. I hear the lamp switch click and the bright light on the other side of my eye lids fades. The room is empty and dark and quiet. I feel safe here in Walter’s house. I quickly begin to fall asleep.
Just when I start to dream, I feel my mama’s warm hand on mine. She stands over me and holds my hand in hers. I don’t open my eyes. I don’t want her to know she woke me up. I feel her kneel down on the floor in front of me. I wonder if she’s OK. She begins to whisper and her words are heavy as they float over me.
She asks God to know me and keep me forever. She says that I’m precious and sweet and smart and beautiful. My mama tells God that she’s sorry for all the time we are away from each other, and she begs Him to keep me safe while we are apart. She asks God to help me understand her and forgive her. She kisses my hand and holds it to her face as hot tears slide down her cheeks.
This is the first time I’ve ever heard anybody in my family pray. I want to open my eyes and tell her everything is alright. But I’m scared and unsure in this unfamiliar moment. And the whole thing feels sacred, somehow. So I stay still and quiet. I fall back to sleep under a soft euphoria of my mama’s love and sacrifice.
So many times I’ve learned to pray. I’m told that we don’t pray for things we want, but we should ask for understanding, awareness of our needs, peace in our hearts, that sort of thing. So I wake up and say Shalom to my face in the mirror. I say a prayer before I pull out of my driveway and I say little prayers throughout the day. I recently read in Found by Micha Boyett that Saint Benedict asked his monk brothers to make prayer the first step in anything worthwhile that they would attempt. Micha says raising her child must be most worthwhile, so she writes this down and tapes it up so she’ll see it often and remember. I write it down in my journal so I see it everyday. I want to remember, too.
Agere Contra, friends