CONFESSIONS

I Don’t Have to Worry

The words “no fear” written in black ink on a light blue surface.
The words “no fear” written in black ink on a light blue surface.
Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash.

I have always felt different: I’m the shortest of my siblings. I was the only Black kid in my class for six years. I have often been (or felt like) the only Christian in the room. But mostly I feel different because of the unwelcome thoughts that enter my mind and the uninvited fears I begrudgingly entertain.

Every now and again, I will let an ordinary occurrence engender a dark daydream. Any quotidian occurrence can prompt my brain to run through a gauntlet of worst-case scenarios. For example, I was walking down the street one evening as two men smoking…


Brave Smiles and Tearful Goodbyes

Two Black women smiling head to head, one elderly and bedridden.
Two Black women smiling head to head, one elderly and bedridden.
Even when she was confined to her bed, my grandmother continued to smile.

So often sadness is simply the opposite side of joy. It is our feelings of affection that make for tearful goodbyes. We shed tears for what we’ve treasured. We feel loss because we loved. That is why I cried the last time I saw my grandmother alive.

A good description of what made my grandmother so special and easy to love can be found in my grandfather’s memoir: “Behind the simple, gentle manner of my wife, lies a storehouse of knowledge, generosity, meekness, and life’s richest experiences. …


Sharing Love, Memories, and Laughs

A photo of two generations of a Black family.
A photo of two generations of a Black family.
Half of the family in this photograph are gone.

Family trips are a rarity in my family. When I was a young child, my parents would send me to Grenada for a month. After my siblings were born, my mother would bring the three of us. My father might join us for a few days, but he usually had to work.

When my paternal grandfather got sick, I was in college and earning good internship money. I went to see him “one last time,” but when he kept on living for another five or six years, I promised myself I’d visit every year after that for as long as…


THOUGHTS

Jealousy Corrodes Contentment

A lineup of red apples differing slightly in shade and size.
A lineup of red apples differing slightly in shade and size.
Photo by Isabella & Louisa Fischer on Unsplash.

Comparison is corrosive. It eats away at my ability to be content and confident. It is a poison that kills the love I have for myself.

Comparison is a thief of joy, and jealousy is often its partner in crime. Whether I’m comparing my body, abilities, or bank account to someone else’s, I do harm to myself if I allow that comparison to rob me of my self-satisfaction and engender envy. …


We Need God for Life

Close-up of a pile of blemished yellow bananas
Close-up of a pile of blemished yellow bananas
Photo by Boudewijn Huysmans on Unsplash.

Sometimes, when I’m feeling inadequate, I think about bananas and plantains. Overly ripened bananas make the best banana bread. Similarly, when a plantain looks its most rotten (black and shriveled and dusty), that’s when it’s sweetest.

Thinking about rotten bananas helps me understand redemption, not only the saving of our souls, but the good that can come from the corrupted.

I am aware of how much in Christianity (or faiths claiming to be Christianity) has been contorted into cruel and harmful words, practices, and beliefs. Even with the best of intentions, anything touched by human hands is inherently lacking. We’re…


What Trees Have Taught Me

An asymmetrical tree in a grassy field under a daytime sky with a few thin clouds.
An asymmetrical tree in a grassy field under a daytime sky with a few thin clouds.
Photo by niko photos on Unsplash.

I spend most of my days trying to get to zero — trying to have zero unread e-mails, zero unreturned calls, zero notifications from social media platforms, an empty laundry hamper, a vacant kitchen sink, no tasks or errands left to do, none of my work for the day still incomplete.

My parents taught me that duty should come before fun. Before I could play or watch television (PBS only), my homework and chores needed to be done. I’ve embraced that philosophy. I enjoy myself most only after I’ve addressed all of my responsibilities. I don’t fully relax and enjoy…


Childhood Companions & Memories

Photo by Clarissa Watson on Unsplash.

I still have the first teddy bear my parents ever gave me. His name is Corduroy. He’s the only tangible thing I’ve had for my entire life.

Corduroy used to have a lot of stuffed animal friends. They were my friends as well. I collected them. As an only child (for seven years) who went to school in an affluent neighborhood, but lived in a notorious one, I had limited play-date options. Because none of my classmates were inclined (or permitted) to venture into my borough, my stuffed animals were my most common companions — especially during vacations and weekends…


An Easy Man to Love

A black bride and her father hug while dancing.
A black bride and her father hug while dancing.
Dancing with my father on my wedding day.

My father makes the best scrambled eggs. He uses just the right amount of butter. He can cook almost anything, actually. He’s quite comfortable in the kitchen, having learned well from his mother.

My father taught me that failure is temporary so long as you persist — that you continue to approach success until you stop trying. He showed me the value of honesty and hard work. He was strict and compassionate. He made sure I knew that my best was enough. I could go to him with my tears and my triumphs.

My father could be a bit overprotective…


Why I Don’t Wear Cosmetics

Circles of cracked makeup powder
Circles of cracked makeup powder
Photo by Liz Breygel on Unsplash.

At an early age, I learned to associate cosmetics with performance. As an aspiring ballerina attending Miss Janet’s Dance Studio, I wore makeup for the annual recital. My mother, who didn’t ever wear makeup herself, would spread shadow on my eyelids and apply lipstick to my lips and cheeks. I saw cosmetics as being another part of my costume. The makeup was for my character; it wasn’t me.

In college, I envied my makeup-wearing friends. For them, getting ready for a special occasion was an energetic production involving powders, pencils, and an intricate assortment of apparatuses (some of which looked…


Mourning a Loved One

A tombstone shaped like a cross with a dove and flowery garland wrapped around it. At the bottom reads “in loving memory.”
A tombstone shaped like a cross with a dove and flowery garland wrapped around it. At the bottom reads “in loving memory.”
Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash.

Some deaths force us to relearn how to live. When my mother first passed away, I felt that to maintain anything less than a state of perpetual sorrow for the rest of my life would be to dishonor her memory. But I also knew she’d want me to rediscover my joy. So then I spent years feeling guilty for wallowing and guilty for feeling happy. My mother died in 2001, and I still sometimes struggle to bear my mourning for her.

I’ve had to let go of what I used to think mourning a loved one meant. I’ve had to…

Aabye-Gayle F.

Editor & Writer https://afavilla.wordpress.com/ | Dog person with cats.

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