Today, I decided to do some cleaning. I am not working and felt the need to just clean. I began in the bathroom, which is my usual practice, wiping down the sink, toilet, shower, sweeping, rearranging, and reorganizing. Then I moved on to the bedroom, folding clothes and gathering laundry that needed to be washed and so on and so forth.
Then I decided that my altar cloths needed to be washed and the altars needed to be cleansed as well. After the laundry was done and I began to sage the space of my ancestor altar and place everything back in order, I had an urge to change the position and dig up more pictures to add.
I went through my albums and found a picture of my great-grandmother and my uncle Otha Jr. I began to remember a flood of things- from Mama’s laugh to Uncle Otha Jr’s cool stride, to the stories, the meals, riding in his ’64 Impala convertible. I couldn’t help but to also begin to feel sad and overcome with emotions.
There are so many stories that should be shared but the family that once was is not anymore. My mother and I are estranged and have not seen or spoken in a year and a half or longer. Her brother and I were practically raised together, yet he has chosen to not have anything to do with me either. Other family members have passed away or we simply just do not communicate.
I remember my grandmother calling family meetings of sorts for members to hash out their disagreements. Whether they agreed in the end or agreed to disagree, it was always decided that we were still family- through good, bad, or ugly- no matter what. But, once she transcended this earthly life, that fell apart.
I often wonder if there was something else that I could or should have done differently but, I always come back to “Is being who they want serving my highest good?” And the answer, in short, is a resounding no. I cannot be Andre’a Danielle DeBerry, the little girl who endured much, who was a perfectionist, fighting to be herself yet, also fighting to fit in and be someone that the family was proud of. I cannot sit in church and pretend. I cannot be in a loveless marriage just for the sake of saying that I am married to my children’s father. I cannot endure toxicity from my mother or my uncle.
Stepping away from it all, moving away, and choosing to live a life so far removed has not been easy but, it absolutely has been necessary. I had to find me and ultimately choose me. I was not perfect but, I definitely was not walking a true path and had no peace because of it.
Ancestral reverence is a huge part of my life and sometimes I struggle with wondering if my ancestors are upset because of the path that I chose. But, when I hear my great-grandmother’s laugh, or my grandma Lillie comes in a dream and hugs me, I know that I am not a disappointment at all. I am my ancestor’s wildest dream. And all because I chose to live the radical concept of defining and being exactly who the hell I want to be.
May my ancestors forever guide and protect me and may I continue to be brave and make them proud.