Sagging thighs, vein filled calves and wilted tattoos, that’s what I see. And yet, I’m still captivated by you.
Scars of life, stare back at me, and in hindsight, speaks to the pain and pleasure we’ve shared. And now, as breath is far and few in between, I close my eyes and reflect on the memories, we’ve shared.
How easily I remember you when your skin was tight and intentions were pure. Innocent. And while I didn’t know what purity meant, at the time, you were always honest about your feelings.
You kept me yearning and feeling new things. I loved that about you. So, I explored you first. I vowed that no man would ever wonder what made you happy. We always knew what we liked, so I could show them. And I’m forever grateful, we got the chance to…
At 16, remember, we felt love in a new way. You connected to love, in the physical. And we enjoyed how he spoke to the crease, between your thighs. He ignited a fire, which only burned for him. And that was what we would always feel for the only man our heart has ever desired. From that day forward, we called him Lover.
Lover sparked a passion in us like no other. We never went a day without seeking him. And when we had aged enough to identify the difference between love and lusting for him, we gave him a piece of us that we never knew existed.
He awakened us. He fed us, spiritually, mentally and physically.
Lover is the air that runs through our veins. He resides here in us and has ever since. In love was just a myth, compared to what we were. Lover consumes the deepest part of us. He is one reason we exist…
You turned thirty and remember we experienced life in a new scope. We found our purpose in life. We fell in love with travel and people. We saw pure joy in the disadvantaged. We saw the helplessness in poor folks. We saw the desperation in the rich. We saw the peace of hope in the oppressed. We witnessed it every day.
We even momentarily tasted desperation. Had to see what it meant to be “high”. And it was surreal to us. It was the darkest time for us. But, each of these moments taught us something different, and we would never take any of these experiences for granted.
And, of all those things, nothing compared to the high of loving or the act of giving. And we longed to share that emotion with everyone we encountered.
Our fifth tattoo was a reminder of that feeling, “be the change you want to see in the world” surrounded by a heart and forever embedded on your right wrist. Remember we received all those compliments? That’s why we’ve clung to those words every day since.
Remember at 35, we were struck by a bullet? Protesters, even then we were more of a threat, in a peaceful movement.
It was one of the most traumatic experiences, because all we did, was stand to protest the lives of the black men that we missed. Those men, our brothers, who were unarmed and brought to death too soon, by officers’ inability to deescalate situations of prejudice, in the absence of feeling “threatened” by skin tones.
Remember, Lover was right there with us. He held your hand and kissed your forehead countless times. He promised me then he would be in our lives until the end of time. He got on one knee and I said yes, and you wore the symbol of his love.
Of course, we let him explore new possibilities. He went places he had not gone before. He went places we had not considered doors. And we loved it! Orgasm was an understatement. Remember? We saw the heaven and stars in one setting, extreme highs and lows of inexplicable passion. And life became freer. And with liberation came clarity. In the “land of the free”, we loved so hard we created new life. We called him Romel Lee…
Can you believe we created and carried life for nine months? We endured those labor pains, like eating ice cream. Easy. And bore no marks of pain or duress. We bounced back so quickly, I emotionally and you physically.
Inherently, we protected Romel effortlessly. Natural instinct. But just when I thought I had seen all that Lover would offer me, he loved us more than I would have ever believed possible.
Lover and I vowed to shield Romel from the parts of the world we shunned. Well, at least we tried for as long as we could to shelter him. But, that was ultimately not good enough. And while Romel was our hope for peace, we had no warning to properly prepare ourselves for the next.
Never had I seen so many people who would never understand what a fair, white man found beautiful or intriguing in a woman with dreadlocks, dark brown eyes, supple lips and oversized nostrils. But he always saw an open heart. And before we could make forever a reality, they pulled us apart. They gave him a reason to hate himself, for loving me.
Lover loved whom he loved, me, but it wasn’t enough for them to let him “be”.
He couldn’t take a life being sunned by his family. And although we loved him relentlessly, Romel and I would have to figure out how to love his memory.
Suicide took Lover from us that following spring. But nothing would ever separate us. Our love was rimless and rem-less. He would always come to Romel in his dreams…
That next year was the worst of our lives. We found needles and strife. And while I had Romel to live for, you craved to cure, the pain of a broken heart and tattered soul. You wanted what you wanted, to redirect focus. I gave it to you. We were now broken, mental and physically separated, engulfed in depths unknown. The junkie blues!
Your limbs were friends of the shadows, and I no longer impressed with the worldview. I shielded the windows of my soul to anything good. We walked in darkness until what we endured was understood.
At 43 we bounced back to reality. Romel gazed into our eyes, in search of life, and loved us unconditionally. So we decided to mend the pieces. We held Lover dear but made sure Romel didn’t lose us too. For what would have come of our boy, had he been subject to lose not one parent, but two?
And life got better. For a time we were happier than ever. But oh, do you remember 67?
We braved the cold to witness history. In awe as the first African-American President of the United States was inaugurated. We cried tears of joy in the midst of good company. Blacks, Whites, Mexicans, Hispanics, were all alike. Eyes filled with the hope of peace and a better economy.
It was all good for awhile. Romel came back from battle. I got to see him raise a family. We were grateful that at 70, we resembled a lady of her 50s.
My granddaughter Emily is one of the most beautiful girls I’ve ever seen. I loved to share in her bedtime, embellishing our stories, I a Queen, and Papa Lover the King. She fell asleep longing for that storied love. I could only pray she would be so fortunate.
No matter how sluggish or crappy you had become, we were always there, sharing in laughs and adding memories.
I saw you last, immobilized, accompanied by a wheelchair at all times, as the end was creeping near. We never let go of the fight. We hid the pain for so many years. Right until the doctors gave us a week to live.
But we, even in our final days, treated each moment, second, minute and hour as a blessing. After all no matter how we felt, every moment of life left, was precious.
Life showed us, that age would always be associated with lessons. We hoped Romel would share at our grave all that we couldn’t share with him.
I hoped that I have given them ample opportunity to question me about past history. I pray, he’ll pass on the stories of the culture that surrounded us. So they can see how it is steadily evolving. After all, knowing how far we have come doesn’t mean we are turning our backs on progress. We salute evolvement by acknowledging we were strong enough to withstand being oppressed.
But regardless to the variances of their and our present tense, we will continue to love everyone, regardless.
To my body:
Know that I have loved you my entire life!
There’s no me without you. You’ve been everything I could ever imagine, my multi-dimensional journal; a machine that has taken me through time and space.
My eyes are now dried, emptied by the pain of oppression we faced, while forced to believe liberation has been made.
Still, I remain bounded by the memories of lynching and slavery, my body tallied for everyone like me, who lost their life senselessly. And the needle marks acquired by the pain of losing the greatest love, all because he turned his back on conformity. The greatest men in this world are legends, because they dared to be different, and dared to love differently.
My body, you are my life’s work, my joy, my pain and my heart’s walk. My message and my lessons I left told on your sleeves. Disregarding the old factious statements about art and age, you tell the story of all we have seen. You’re my perfect testimony, unbiased and all encompassing. As you have shown pure strength, in the remaining heartbeats.
Unfortunately now, we’ve reached the finale. And before our final breath as one, I want you to know, that we have had a great ride. 32485 days it’s been since we started on his journey. I have never been more honored you chose me to share your life with.
I ascended into heaven. Leaving you behind.
I parted the skies and you were lowered into the ground. I left you whole, just as you were, for everyone to see the stories of our life journey in your sagging thighs, vein filled calves and wilted tattoos.
You see, regardless to how age distorted the view, you were, and will always be, captivating. For they saw the scars of life, that spoke to the pain and pleasure we have shared.
My perfect testimony, unbiased and all-encompassing, I hate our journey ends here…