(For maximum emotional effect, play music video while reading)
My Keeks, as I write this your father is desperately attempting to put you to bed. I'm sitting in the lounge with a glass of wine, listening to him belly-laughing as you babble about - he cannot contain his absolute love for you. It swells my heart to hear you make him laugh, and to be able to share those moments with both of you - even if from another room.
I probably won't be the first to tell you this, but that experience is one of love - complex and indulgent, painful and liberating, soothing and wrecking. Love.
Love is so hard. One thing I have learned and continue to learn laboriously is that the substance of love does not come easy to me, with all of the hurt that I carry from the past. I am at once stubborn, unforgiving and overly certain. Within a moment, love in its purest form (without all of the window dressing) ruins me - brings me to my most basic childhood tendencies and forces me to relent into the entirety of my interrelatedness.
The love from your father, your grandmother, your grandfather, your (biological and adopted) aunts, and you do all of these things for me, and despite hating the parts of love that are grating - I would be 100% id without it, responding to my most basic instincts for survival.
I want you to know that when I speak of being strong, I do not speak about carrying it all on your own or having all of the answers. Trust me when I say, those who know it all do not know humanity and its complexities. Rather, in holding yourself gently and humbly, I want you to realize your humanity, your ability to be wrong, your ability to be weak, and your ability to need support - love. I emphasize ability here because it is a choice that you have the power to make - a choice you have to give love, and also to receive it.
The narrative of the strong black woman bearing the brunt of humanities evil is overrated for its inability to recognize that no one should have to carry the obligation to epitomize love & selfnessness without making that choice. It is a choice to love, but you will find that as a woman (especially a black one), it will be easier to give love than to receive it. And for this I implore you to open your heart - into the mess that is human love, the condition of mxn in its purest form.
I implore you not because I have the answers or because I believe it to be easy, but I do believe true love has the power to hold and heal you - because it is for better and for worse. It is a decision you make to give, but also to receive: the gift of acceptance with all of your beautiful scars (some which will be inflicted by the people who love you the most in this world, like your dad and I).
As you hold others gently in this world, giving grace and love to others - also remember that we, too, are here with a choir of lovers, holding you up and holding you high with our love. Always.