#2132

My mother and I share a lot of private memories, things for which only we were present – the time we got locked in a dark sauna and I was thoroughly convinced we were going to die; the time we accidentally ordered so much food at a Chinese restaurant that it was like the chocolate factory conveyor belt scene from I Love Lucy; the time our car was nearly hit by lightning during a tornado warning and we rode out the storm in a little diner in the middle of nowhere; all the times we sat talking over dinner or laughing at stupid reality TV. We share countless private memories between us, both mundane and magical, silly and serious, yet there is a specific shared memory which binds us beyond mother and daughter – a memory I have barely touched in the last eleven years.

I was fresh out of my first year of college, just eighteen years old, and my parents and I were on vacation in northern California. We had driven to the ranger station at the top of Mt. Lassen, a ride during which my mother had kept her eyes squeezed shut for fear of the steep cliff-side just feet from the car. She hated heights, hated seeing the tops of trees passing by below as the car wove its way up the steep, winding path, and probably didn’t trust her own driving skills enough to risk the attempt anyway. On the way down, though, she had to take the wheel and remain calm for us both while my father sat stunned in the front seat by an inexplicably painful and disorienting headache. We didn’t know why the headache struck so suddenly or with such force, only that he needed medical assistance – and so my mother faced her lifelong fear to get us all to safety. I knew she was on the edge of panic that whole drive down and yet she reined in her fear to keep her teenage daughter, who had never seen her beloved father so vulnerable, from panicking too. Thanks to her we made it safely back to the tiny town at the base of the mountain and hurried to the local hospital. If my father was cogent enough to commend my mother for her bravery at the time, I don’t remember… and at this point it’s only she and I who remain to tell the tale.

My mother is made of steel and I could provide a hundred examples of her strength just off the top of my head; anyone who knows her could. She fights for her family, for her friends, and for her community and has always set a positive example for everyone around her. However, I’m the only one who can offer up this particular memory as proof of her unyielding bravery. A check for a million dollars couldn’t have convinced my mother to make that stressful drive back to civilization on her own and yet she did. For my father, mysteriously sick, she did. For me, young and terrified, she did. Maybe if we had known what the upcoming days would ask of us she would have quailed at this first test, but all I remember is her determination in the face of the frightening unknown.

I talk a lot about the ways in which I’m like my father because I’m proud to carry them on in his name and make him present in every moment with me. However, what I should say more often is how much I hope I am like my mother. How I hope I have inherited her courage, strength, and conviction. How I hope I may act quickly and calmly to protect my little family when emergencies strike. How I hope I may so bravely face down any and all of my fears to do what is right for those I love. Anyone can tell you my mother is a little blond spitfire who doesn’t back down from a challenge, yet only I can tell you about the time I saw her at her bravest. It’s not a happy memory to share between us, nor are any of the other memories from the week that followed, but it remains preserved and clarified in my mind as testament to the strength for which I want always to strive.

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#2023

[ A prayer to Bast for protection over a dwelling/property. I like to imagine a shining yellow light outlining the space I want protected when I say this prayer, and sometimes even something “bad” (I usually use shadow figures) trying to cross through the light but being repelled. ]

Dua Bast, Lady of the East, of the Flame, and of the Truth!
Dua Bast, Glorious Goddess and Protective Mother Cat!
Dua Bast, Vengeful Eye of Ra, Lady of the Ointment Jar!
Dua Bast, She Who Is Without Equal!
Dua Bast!

Great Lady, I ask You to protect this house and all who dwell within;
let nothing that means harm step onto this property
let nothing that means ill cross over this threshold.
This dwelling is a safe space for all who we welcome here;
may this place be sacred to You and all who enter be under Your protection.
Goddess of Family and Home, secure our borders with tooth and claw;
tear apart that which would harm us and let pass through only that which is good.
May this offering and my love bring You strength as You safeguard us
and may the family we create here bring You much joy.

Dua Bast, Lady of the East, of the Flame, and of the Truth!
Dua Bast, Glorious Goddess and Protective Mother Cat!
Dua Bast, Vengeful Eye of Ra, Lady of the Ointment Jar!
Dua Bast, She Who Is Without Equal!
Dua Bast!

#1949

It’s been ten years. Three thousand six hundred and fifty-two days. In that time, three years of college; three of Americorps; three with a ‘real’ job. Two degrees and one diploma. Four years with the woman I love, who you will never meet. Forty-two foster kittens. Some hundred thousand miles on my car. One car accident, zero broken bones. Two trips to Washington DC, one to Yosemite, one to Switzerland. One new Jurassic Park movie, which you’ll never watch with me, and too many Tremors sequels. Three tattoos, going on four. One wedding to plan and one to attend. Three times a bridesmaid and once a bride. Zero fathers to walk me down the aisle. Zero dads to dance with. Zero you but countless dreams and too many things I’ll never get to share with you.

#1927

I’m a member of the Dead Dads Club. It’s a shitty club and you don’t get to choose to become a member; one day it just happens, congratulations, you’re a member for life now. At first I didn’t dream about him at all, or if I did he was always in the periphery, silent, watchful. Then it was dreams where I didn’t know I was dreaming and he was back – he had never died, he had been resurrected, he just walked through the door one day and didn’t know years had passed. Then it was dreams where I didn’t know I was dreaming and we were just hanging out together – riding in his truck, baking chocolate chip cookies, me telling him about Assassin’s Creed. Then it was dreams where I knew it was a dream and he didn’t understand why I’d hold him hard and sob into his chest. Now it’s dreams where I know it’s a dream but I still tell him over and over and over again how much I want him to come to my wedding. I cry, hard and ugly, and the dream never lasts long enough. In the dream it feels unbearable, the thought that he’ll miss this, too, just like he missed so much else. When you’re in the Dead Dads Club, the list of things they miss just gets longer and longer, and yet you’re continually blindsided when something new comes up.

#1846

Dear Xavier,

I don’t know what memories you will recall from age three. Maybe they will be snippets of moments, sharply focused on insignificant details, or simply blurry colors and sensations. I doubt you will remember this weekend and how you took hold of my hand and your aunt’s, pressing them together so our engagement rings kissed. I doubt you will remember how she asked you to be her best man, or how your family asked me so many eager questions about the ceremony. I doubt you will remember eating apple pie in celebration.

Above all, I doubt you will remember the following Wednesday, a day that will remain infamous throughout the annals of history. I doubt you will remember the day your birth country elected a spiteful, bigoted, xenophobic man as president.

I wish I knew what the future holds for you, little X. Will you grow up in an America striving to better itself? Will you grow up feeling this is undeniably your country, your home, even if your family came from somewhere else? This place can be beautiful. This place can be a beacon of hope. But it takes a lot of struggle, a lot of perseverance, a lot of small victories and big losses. Right now it’s my generation fighting the good fight to preserve equality and peace – some day it will be yours. This day that has left so many millions of people reeling, both across America and across the world, you’ll read about in history books. It won’t feel entirely real to you, even though you’ll know you were technically alive for it. When your aunt and I talk about it, it will be with immense bitterness. When you ask how it could possibly happen, we’ll say, “It’s complicated”.

Part of me hopes you will remain in the safe majority – that you will grow up to be straight, cisgender, and pale enough to pass as one of the “good” minorities. You have been part of my family since you were born, and I would do anything in the world to protect you. At the same time, though, I know that’s not in my power. No matter what world you grow up in, you will still be a minority of one kind or another. You will still come from an immigrant family. You will still have queer relatives. You will still be full of love and goodness, and there will still be people in the world who want to crush that.

I hope you don’t let them. I can’t know what the future holds, but I can promise you I will keep fighting to make that future worthy of you. Freedom, equality, clear water, clean air – everything I fear we’ll lose might be truly lost in my generation, and in yours. But I will fight for every scrap of that future until the very end. Don’t read about this in your history book and think it happened because no one cared. We care. We’re still fighting.

– Tita Elyssa

#1811

“Prophetic”

I dreamed last night you set yourself free
bursting through the door of your cage
(which had never been locked, only latched)
a phoenix rising from ashes to firestorm
and your glory melted that cage down to a puddle
so you could never be caught again.