Withered sunflowers

Im bad at being sad or probably at having emotions that slow me down. It feels self indulgent, and almost futile to tarry on something like grief over death. Death happens all the time, its a fact. It a promise. If I had sat down every time someone died, or was killed, that I know...would I ever get up? no.

I feel like Im always carrying these 50 lb bags of grief around, but so are many people I know. You just keep walking, and dragging your grief because that's what it is. You don't talk about it all the time, but it seeps out around the edges sometimes.

And that is July for me. JULY. My body tells me before the calendar does. To say Ive sucked at life this past week is an understatement.

I last saw my mom alive on July 11, 2010. I laid on the side of her hospital bed and she pet my hair. (its a white thing) I loved her hands. She had big pretty knuckles and even the day before she died her long nails were painted red. HOW? im pondering this today.

My mom loved sunflowers. Gardenias were her favorite for a long time, but they are kind of a bougie flower. Sunflowers were her choice later in life, and make more sense. She said something reminiscent once of heaven being a field of sunflowers.

This week someone posted something online about a flower farm having fields of sunflowers you can pick and I was like Hmmm, let me go see if she is there.

TLDR: she wasn't, but I found all my grief.

It was like 700,000 degrees in the blazing direct afternoon sun. Mike was supportively quiet and trying to follow me through the waist high flower fields while carrying a sleeping, lanky MJ and I yelled at him to stop. I traipsed around the wildflower field first carrying my enormous plastic white bucket and clippers they had given me. I was looking for something, I don't even know what. I stood almost buried in the middle of the sea of green fern like plants with these single stalks of pink flowers poking up like fingers to the sky above the green. It was pretty. But it was fake. Withering. Next week the stalks will be too long for the flowers to stand up I bet. Or people will have cut them and taken them home where they will die on their counters in their jars and vases of water.

"And if God cares so wonderfully for the wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?" - Matt 6:30

ugh. That verse was an annoying chorus in my head.
(If you are offended by my calling the Holy Word of the Lord annoying then you should stop reading now, its probably gonna get worse.)

We walked down the baked red clay dirt path to the back sunflower field because the ones by the road were dead and shriveled. Their sunflower faces not turned up towards the Creator who supposedly cares so wonderfully for them, but towards the ground to whose dust they will return probably sooner then later, They were small and shriveled but tall. Nobody wanted those for $1 a stem.  The path was so long and sloping and all hard dirt and I was pretty sure I was gonna either pass out from the heat or break my ankles... but I lived.

Mike trudged alongside of me silently carrying our still sleeping child, and was quiet equally out of sadness for my grief and anger but maybe because I was obviously pissed off.

Who is pissed off in a flower field? A sunny, pretty, flower field in the middle of a gorgeous summer day?

Blue sky, white clouds, green rolling hills in the background, you could see the rise of the mountains. Picturesque. I was literally holding my hands down from flicking it all off.

We got to the sunflower field and I somewhat carefully meandered my way deep into it. The tears came before I even realized I was crying.

 I was like, "Seriously Jesus these flowers are mostly dead and they are all dehydrated and if you are supposed to be encouraging me with how you care for them YOU ARENT." I said it in my head because there was people around. Most of them turned and went the other way because I obviously was not there in the same spirit or mood as them. There was people with a fluffy curly puppy taking endless selfies of them crouched down surrounded by flowers with big smiles. She was chastising her husband for having his eyes closed in their pics and kept making him smile over and do it over and over. There was families at the edges with super dressed up little kids and little girls in matching outfits with enormous ass bows on their heads taking pictures. There was a tourist group that didn't speak English and all had cameras and took turns for like 10 minutes taking pics of each other with the stupid peace sign and crouching down and then jumping. And young couples trying to be cute on dates in the 90 plus degree heat In a dirty flower field.

And me.  I was angrily stomping around, I was not smiling. I cried a lot even though I tried to hold it in and as I yelled at God in my head I know a few swear words escaped my lips in a yell whisper. I was muttering and looked confused as I doubled back and forth through the field trying to avoid people. I cut like 20 wilted sunflowers with my fancy clippers as I was like you care for us? MALIK. did you care for him as he sat dying in his car with gunshots to his chest? Nope. What about Terry and Poppie and Harry? What about lots more lots more lots more lots more stories still In progress?

Someone posted a video of Poppie this week and had somehow tagged me in it. It was after he was shot and was laying on the ground and the police arrived and people were begging the cops to do something because he was still breathing. They didn't. You could see his chest rise and fall for probably the last few times and people begged off camera for them to help him. I talked to God about that as I walked around a hot ass flower field.

I wordlessly talked to God about a million other grievous memories that live in my bones as I wandered in a flower field on the tenth anniversary of the last day I touched my only parent ever on this earth. God didn't say anything. I think God was just happy I showed up to the conversation. Its a conversation I don't have with them often. My grief Is all connected on a string. The line from my mom, to the many guys from Chicago, to the violence Ive witnessed, to present injustice is all hanging on the same cord wrapped around my heart.

The present suffering and injustice and anger in our city, our country, is too much lately. And that fact that I have to actually spend time trying to convince people who look like me that it exists and it matters has occupied my emotional time.
Real fast, Black Lives and Black Dignity Matter.

My grief rose up unexpectedly. I thought I would be like yay pretty flowers, my mom liked flowers so lets pick some to honor her and do something because I can't just do nothing as I remember her.

But honestly? I was like WHAT THE FUCK JESUS? WHAT THE FUCK? FUCKING FUCK. and I held my pain out and shed it all over that flower farm and was like Its too much Jesus, and its not even half. And all I got back so far was "In this life you will have trouble, but take heart because I overcame the world." John 16:33 and its not enough or ok. But Im pretty sure God called me there to lay some of my burdens down and I kinda did. Im not sure if I picked them back up as I carried my wrapped packages of freshly picked and wilted sunflowers back to the car though.


 I wore this awful shirt she would have loved. It has a bee on it, it said Be Kind. like the bee, then the word Kind. It was bright yellow. She would have worn it 100% and still treated your whole life right to your face if you pissed her off or didn't give her quality customer service. She might have flicked you off from her car or laid on her horn for an impressively long and inappropriate amount of time while wearing this shirt encouraging either to be kind. The only way she would have liked this shirt more was if it was tie-dyed. My mom loved her some tie dyed.

She got crocs the last few years of her life, the fake ones OF COURSE. She bought those little things you stick in the holes of them and she decorated her fake dollar store crocs with little bugs. She always wore turtle necks in the fall and winter. She exclusively wore blue eyeliner and discovered red lipstick the last five years of her life. Her green eyes popped like mine can. She could love you to life or tear you to pieces, sometimes both in one conversation. She rarely drank, but loved margaritas. One of our favorite memories of her was when we went to Red Lobster and she drank ONE margarita and was tipsy. They gave us Mardi Gras beads with a little lobster on it, and she sat at the table putting the lobster claw necklace in her eye and saying it was a lobster monocle: a lobocle. For like ten minutes.

She always tried to set my sister and I up with waiters in the restaurants we went to. My sister Is beautiful and thin and smart and sweet, so that usually worked. I was a punk rock sass pants so not so much here.

She loved Coke. and Burger King. The days before she died we brought her a number four whopper meal with no onions from the BK up the street. Her and her husband bought a small log cabin house on one acre in a far southern western suburb of Chicago when I was almost 19 years old and she was thrilled. It was her peace. She did weird shit like decorate WAY too much for halloween, and carry a stick when she walked around, and fed the squirrels too much In these weird chairs with a stick for a corn cob then formulated a plan to exterminate them when they drastically overpopulated their yard due to the abundance of food available.

Food was comfort and a bonding thing for our family. especially Tacos. When I was like second grade (ish) my mom decided it was time! She took me ceremoniously for my first Taco Bell experience. She got me 3 crunchy tacos and I gobbled them all up excitedly. Then, I puked them all onto the ground in the parking lot as she laughed and offered to buy me 3 more.

I wasn't a good, sensible or productive member of society in my early life ( we will leave it at that for now ) and my friends and I thought it was funny to relieve people of their odd yard decorations sometimes. It wasn't odd for my mom to wake up and look out the window some mornings and see new(to her) lawn decorations or holiday decorations or whatever else my friends and I had thought was hysterical to relocate to her suburban front lawn from the city in the middle of the night. One night we relocated a huge cement goose to her porch. I don't even know how we carried it up the stairs, it was so heavy. She picked her battles with me at this time in my life, so Rolled her eyes and usually didn't comment so much about this hobby of mine. I saw her take note of the cement goose with some positive interest however. About a month later, I noticed the goose was wearing a little dress. Then, a yellow plastic raincoat and hat. Eventually, it had weekly costume changes with the seasons and holidays. The best.

There was a homeless community that I befriended very commitedly and loyally in the Logan Square community for a long time. I would visit them and hang out with them on the street for extended periods of time. My mom learned all their names, and their stories and would follow along with them. When I had to take one of the old men to the hospital one night, she drove from the suburbs and visited him after I went home. One of her friends was renting a room and her and I worked together to get Basil into this housing situation. She picked him up and brought him to my grandmas for every single holiday and family dinner for a few years. Whatever I was into at that time or learning about, she wanted to know. She was there for it.

Her husband was a hard core republican, but she took great delight in secretly voting for Obama in the 2008 election and it was a secret we shared.

She was a faithful daughter and spent the night at my grandmas house In the city and they ordered pizza every single Friday night.

She was the same mix of a DIE HARD enneagram 2 that everyone who doesn't REALLY know her thinks is an overbearing egotistical 8 and they are super wrong. To be in her protection, was to feel safe but to be on her bad side was a nightmare you didn't want to live. Ive been both.

Id give anything to see her in Hope Lawn Care shirt or a picture with MJ.

Mike dances his grief and proclamations and I write mine.


  1. AWWW.. so sorry!!! How many students did you loose from Chicago? And why did you leave Chicago? Its so sad that Terry Barry went that way. How was life in Chicago?

  2. Rest in peace to my boy tb stuff got handled for my boy smoke in on Jaydo and Tq oblock


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