Heavenly Father, we gather here today to thank you for blessing us with another year. We know that were it not for your grace and mercy, we wouldn’t be here. Please bless each of us to have a year full of love and blessed times. Please help us to remember that we already have so much to be grateful for, most importantly, that we are your perfect children, created in your image and likeness. Whatever changes come this year, we will be fine because you are watching over us. Thank you for this food that we are about to receive in your name. Amen.
Deidre’s mother, squeezed Deidre’s hand tightly, when she uttered the part of her prayer about changes. How did mommas always know? Deidre squeezed her momma’s hand back, lifted her bowed head, smiled, and exclaimed, “Let’s eat!”
If the sugar or the pressure was gonna kill Deidre, she figured it was worth it after eating Aunt Denise’s five cheese macaroni and Aunt Naomi’s candied sweet potatoes. She’d be missed for sure, but all who had ever eaten her family’s food would know that she died a happy person.
Deidre certainly felt happy sitting there at the old, Oak table that her grandfather had built, even though Chris took the kids to his parent’s house. Her family was far from perfect, but they were always present, always there. Recently she realized that it was important to ask yourself, “Who could you count on to show up?” Those people sitting around this family table. They may act-a-fool when they get there – but whenever and wherever you call them — they would undoubtedly be there.
On the other hand, Chris hadn’t been there for Deidre for a long time. When they met in business school, only two things were in their minds: each other and their dreams. They were driven to accomplish their dreams—both coming from rather poor backgrounds. Each were their family’s success stories, “the first in the family to” stories, and the “grandma would be so proud” stories. They supported each other through school: surviving on ramen noodles, tuna fish, peanut butter sandwiches and Mountain Dews (for the caffeine).
It was Deidre who helped Chris begin his business in their tiny living room, sitting on a cream futon in their small apartment; but she stopped working when the business was 3 years old and she was 9 months pregnant. Harris Enterprises grew, their family grew, their net worth grew, Deidre’s dress size grew and somewhere during all of that growing, Deidre and Chris grew apart.
It wasn’t that they didn’t have anything to talk about. Their whole world was “in common”: shared kids, shared home and a shared business, and they managed all of it well. At some point though, they seemed to be co-workers, two people who ran life together; rather than lovers—two people who lived life together.
And that left Deidre feeling lonely. She missed walking into a room and having her man look at her appreciatively; laughing at a joke until they both had tears in their eyes; pretending that she was asleep when he got home late from a business dinner and smiling on the inside when he slipped into the bed and pulled up her gown; trying to slip in a quickie before one of the kids came in; spooning and watching Martin reruns. She missed him truly seeing Deidre. He used to seem so fascinated by her—everything about her: the way her head fell back when she laughed, how she put A-1 sauce on everything, how she seemed to know the words to every 80’s song regardless of genre. Now, it seemed that instead of seeing her, he saw her in roles only: homemaker and mother.
For a long time, that’s how she saw herself too, as his wife and their kids’ mother only. She lost herself in the pool of raising them. For years it felt as though she was swimming in activities, play dates, bedtime stories and joy; but then, it felt like she was drowning. Two years ago, she knew it was time to emerge again and to walk on solid ground—feel her legs again.
She slid into a producer position on the local morning show, walked into Nordstrom and got a personal shopper, skipped into a woman’s group that met every other Friday night, and literally ran into her old dress size. She thought that now that she was walking in her own shoes again, her and Chris’ relationship would get back in-step; but he clearly didn’t appreciate her new stride, or maybe he had run so many laps without her that he was used to going at his pace, his route, his way. So recently they had lived as if they were running a relay: passing responsibilities to each other to reach the finish line faster than the rest, but never running together.
Deidre craved that feeling of “togetherness.” Evidently, Chris did too; and obviously found it with someone else while Deidre was trying to figure out how the two of them could get back on the same team.
And she was tired of running; tired of trying to catch up with him, match his pace without him trying to match hers, or even looking back to see where she was.
The lonely feeling of having Chris sneak home again at 6:00 a.m. contrasted with the love she felt from her family the next day; she knew that this New Year was indeed going to bring a new life for Deidre. On your mark, get set, go….
Part 3, coming soon…
My intention is for Black people to love themselves and each other. It sounds somewhat silly, I guess; but oftentimes my people are overwhelmed with negative images, bad news, and stereotyped characters about us. I’d like to flip that script. I’d like to remind us, as often as I can, how incredible we are. Read more