I hope this finds you glorious. Perhaps carried to you on light breezes in your favorite place.
It’s been almost a decade since you became an ancestor.
I spent so much time reading your work when I was younger that my present self keeps wondering if it’s time to revisit your memoirs.
See how adult me interprets your words and insights now that I have some age on me. In search of truths between the pages of your work that might help answer the questions that come with these additional years.
The world feels crueler since you left.
I’ve spent more than a decade trying to carve out stability and a career for myself, thinking I would finally have the time to enjoy life outside of the struggle of putting food on the table and keeping a roof over my head. I won those battles. But now I struggle with resentment of those in power continuously working to snatch our futures from us.
It’s hard to keep perspective and think about five, 10, or 20 years from now when we seem to be traveling back into the darkest parts of history.
To counter the despair, I find myself thinking of the lives you lived. Your time in different locations: New York, Ghana, San Francisco, Egypt. The turns your career took. Your journey through parenthood. The marriages and partings. The friendships. The losses. The pain you had to walk and work through. The joy you found in writing and speaking life into all of us. The hope you had that we, and this country, could be better.
You sang, danced, wrote, acted, read, produced, directed, taught, and performed! You seemed to go where your talent took you and embraced opportunities when they arrived.
I’m old enough now to understand that every decision you made for your life didn’t always come with certainty. That you felt fear. That all your endeavors may not have been the success you imagined, while some might have exceeded your expectations far beyond what you thought.
That brings me comfort and helps me make the choices I need to without too much fear that I’m doing life wrong or that I will miss something that was meant for me.
I wanted to be a writer before I even allowed myself to think of the possibilities of becoming one. Reading your work helped me make the decision, but I often wonder if what I write, and the things I’ve create are helpful. Do they make an impact or am I just speaking into the ether?
But I keep going because it feels right in the depths of my gut. I do not know what the next five, 10, 20 years from now will look like and sometimes, it keeps me awake at night. It’s the first time since I was 17 that I haven’t had a specific plan. How will the next decade unfold for me? Then there are times when in my mind’s eye I stroll a garden path with you, in silence. And in peace.
I struggled for weeks about what to say to you in this letter and just as I worked things out and made it to toward the end, a clip from one of your interviews showed up in my timeline.
Thank you for the reminder, my dear ancestor.
With all my love,
Perdita Patrice is a Texas-based writer and documentary filmmaker. She enjoys live music, reading, and watching TV. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @perditapatrice