Missing Marlene.

At the time of writing this, it will have been 4 months, twenty-one days, and twelve hours since I lost her. I keep asking myself how. How do I start to write about the death of my mom. I never thought that on January 5, 2016, I’d be living in a world without her. I knew I’d have to write about it eventually. Writing has always been a catharsis for me – one that my mom celebrated and encouraged me to pursue since I was a child.

I remember at the beginning of every summer, my mom would give me a black and white composition book, and tell me to write a complete story every day, and read it to her when she got home from work. I saw it as a chore, but as I got better, and let my imagination do the writing for me, I began to look forward to reading her these stories, ones that would illicit mountain rolling, tear-inducing laughter from her. Always my most ardent supporter, biggest fan, best friend, and love of my life, it’s like losing her, meant losing 5 people at once – and, losing a big part of myself.

She embodied strength, and courage. After losing the last vestiges of her eye sight shortly before I was born, she didn’t let something so devastating deter her from being an amazing example for my two sisters and I. Instead, she went back to school, earned another degree, and rose in the ranks in the federal government, a fete many with vision don’t set out to achieve. She taught me to love God early on. Besides their day jobs, my mother and father were missionaries.

At 7 years-old, they took me on a missionary trip with them to Tema, Accra, Ghana. My mom and dad had a singing grouped called Seven at their church, and they were set to perform at a gathering the second night after we’d arrived. I remember sitting in the audience, looking at my parents in awe, clutching my baby blue Gunde bear that I affectionately named Christopher. And after my momma performed, I saw so many Christian Ghanians come up to her, and touch her face. They realized she was blind. And with so much strength and courage, she talked with them about God – and how he’d given her greater vision than what her physical sight could offer. And then, I didn’t know what that meant. I thought about it so many times growing up and finally asked her before I left for college in 2005. She told me, “Angel, God never puts more on us than we can bare. And although I’d love to know what your pretty face looks like, my heart can see you. You remember that. when the world feels like too much to you, you remember that God must think the world of the strength that you possess.”

I didn’t know that I’d have to call upon that strength so soon. I thought she’d be here to see me get married, to see me have my first child. Win an Emmy, fulfill all the potential and ambition that she’d instilled in me. The week before my mom went on life support, my family and I were on a road trip. And on the way back, I knew something was wrong. We stopped at a rest stop to get some gas somewhere in South Carolina. I opened the door, and reached into the passenger side where she was sitting, and laid my head on her lap. I said, “Momma, you’re not going anywhere are you?” She said, “Baby, I’m not going anywhere, I’m not going to leave you. I’ll never leave you.”

She passed away two weeks after that. And although she’s not here in the physical sense with us, I know that she continues to keep her promise from heaven. I know that she’s here with me, I can feel her. And even though I selfishly want her here on earth, I know that she’s living in the ultimate paradise with Our Father. I can’t help but to carry on and live her legacy.

I miss you mommy. Daddy, Penni, Aeirss and I miss you so much.


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