I tuned in late to the Star Trek on Saturday night. When I joined the show it was about 10 minutes into the show. It was one of my favorites. It was the first encounter of the Enterprise with the Romulans. The episode itself is interesting in that it presents the two sides as Romulans/bad guys and Federation/good guys.
However as the episode plays out we are taken aboard the Romulan ship and we get a view that the Enterprise doesn’t get. We see that the commander is a complex character trying to negotiate his culture, his duty and his apprehension about a warrior lifestyle. There is tension on his ship in midst of what becomes a life or death struggle that might lead to war.
On the Enterprise there is also tension. When they are see that the Romulans look like Vulcans, distrust and bigotry rear their ugly heads. Even Kirk struggles with what his duty means and what his decisions might cause. By the time the Enterprise defeats the Predator, the viewer finds the conflict’s outcome as less than satisfying. And in the last scene on the Romulan ship it is the Romulan commander who says that he and Kirk may have been friends if things were different
However while I was admiring the writing, I had forgotten the first scene of the episode until it was near the end. Dr McCoy tells Captain Kirk that there was one death on the Enterprise during the battle: a young crewman. Then I remembered how this episode began. It started with Kirk performing a wedding as captain of a ship. Put the Romulan situation interrupts the wedding and in the battle the groom dies. In the last scene his widowed bride returns to the ship’s chapel to mourn. When I saw the young woman mourning the death of her true love, taken from her far too early, I lost it. I was hit by a grief haymaker and suddenly I was mess.
When Howard passed away I wore my wedding ring through the days of Shiva. When those days were done I took it off and placed it on the small horn of the jade rhino near his ring, which is on the large horn. I think my wedding ring is beautiful. It is like me. It shines as it turns because it is 12 diamonds. At the same time it is humble and simple and understated, like me.
Tonight (and for the last couple of months) I missed my ring. I miss wearing it. It reminds me of Howard and of the love we shared. It is the only ring I’ve ever wanted to wear. Tonight I removed it from its display place and decided to start wearing it again. I put it on the ring finger of my right hand. I am admitting the reality of the incredible relationship that I had with Howard and of the deep love that we shared. At the same time I leave the ring finger of my left hand bare. That is a symbol of my own openness to the future. My right hand ring finger says that I have had the joy finding love once. The bareness of my left hand ring finger says that I’m open to finding love again.
It feels good to wear this ring again. I like the way it looks. I feel good about honoring the first love of my life. No one will ever be that for me. This feels like a better way for me to move forward. Let’s face it. Every man I meet will be measured by the yardstick of Howard. One on hand, its not fair. No one can replace another. On the other hand, this is my reality. I bring my experience of love in the past into any experience of love in the future. It strikes me as wise to know that both are true.
This will go down as one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done.
I need to have an colonoscopy. I have scheduled it and I understand the prep for it. In fact I began the preparations on Sunday. I started fasting and at 3pm. I mixed and took half of the solution that will clean out my colon. It tasted horrible. And in an hour’s time I was suffering from medically induced super-diarrhea–not a fun experience.
Then I looked at my instructions again and I saw that I had made a ridiculous mistake. My appointment date was Wednesday and not Monday. I had fasted for no reason. I had taken that solution (and suffered the results) for no reason. Now I get to explain to five people how I messed up. And I’ll get to do all the unpleasant prep all over again on Tuesday.
Last night I became angry. NO.
Last night I got mad. NO
Last night I was pissed off! YES
Why? Everything: racial injustice, dreams deferred, Christmas commercials, the deaths of young black men, the deaths of black trans folk, the deaths of people that I love, my inaction, the nation’s inaction, God’s inaction—everything. I ended up yelling at the pitch of my lungs in the solitude of my own home.
I scared myself. I embodied one of the very things I’ve always feared about myself. There are two of them” 1) “falling apart” emotionally and 2) “losing it” emotionally.
“Falling apart” is about my fear of sorrow and how I might react to it. I fear that something will happen that will make me breakdown and not be able to hold it together. I fear that I will be overwhelmed with sadness in public and be inconsolable. In my days as Nice Guy I never fell apart, not in public, never. However as Carla I’ve fallen apart twice in public. Once was on the front lawn of St Mark’s Cathedral when I ended up crying on the shoulder of the former dean. The second was at the burial of my husband when I turned and cried on the shoulder of Bishop Rivera. I don’t like recalling those incidents. At the same time I wonder why I hate myself in those moments when every time I’ve been with people in times of deep grief I’ve accepted their “falling apart” as human and precious.
I have a similar issue when it comes to “losing it” at times of anger. I bridle my anger in public because I don’t want to be seen as another “angry black woman.” I don’t want to be perceived as out of control or someone to be feared because of my anger. My anger is easier for me to control. However when it erupts in private its intensity frightens me. Such was the case last night. Somehow like a rain-swollen river my anger overflowed its banks and poured out. That was private so that was ok. However one of the reasons I’m holding back from the whole racial injustice conversation is that I’m afraid of my anger. I’m afraid it will accomplish nothing except to scare people and make them pull back.
I didn’t start writing with an agenda. I had thought I might write about why I’m angry and what I intend to do about it. But now I realize that I am not ready to have that discussion in public. I’m not even ready to have it with myself. But I would like to.
A friend recently sent me an email asking, “Are you OK?” Actually what they wrote was this:
You have said nothing and written nothing in weeks. With Ferguson and its aftermath and this season and your new position, I can’t believe you have nothing to say. Are you OK?
Here is my answer to that friend and to any who might be puzzled by my silence.
The primary reason for my silence is to that I can listen. I need to listen to voices that bring me a fresh perspective on the issue of race in America, on church and religion and the Episcopal experience. I need to listen especially to younger voices. This is part of my own change in perspective. For me there is wisdom in knowing when to take the stage and speak and when to leave the stage for others to speak. This is a time for me to stop speaking and listen.
However there is a second reason that I am silent. I’m silent because I’m in no condition to speak. I have been battling depression and grief for months and in the past few weeks the struggle has intensified. The experience of grief has been sharpened as I pass through the Season of Celebration for the first time without husband, mother and father. I’ve have needed almost every ounce of energy just to get through each day. I literally can’t write or speak these days.
Yet, though I am publicly silent, I’m not privately silent. I have a group that I speak to every week. It is a small circle of children that I’m with every Sunday. My call now is to share wisdom with them and to help form their faith. I do this in the hope that they will grow to be people who yearn for, pray for and work for the realization of the kingdom of God. I am speaking there, even as I am silent elsewhere.
I have chosen silence. And though I’m struggling with grief and depression, do not fear for me, for my silence is ultimately not a sign of trouble. There’s no need to send the cavalry. I might not be fine but I’m OK.