Today is Monday, June 24th. I wouldn’t exactly call what I feel right now the Monday blues; it’s more like emotional exhaustion as a result of my highly sensitive empath soul attempting to process the problems of the world along with my own minimal setbacks and feeling helpless. I spent the better part of the day uploading concert videos to my Youtube channel, and making progress on my music and career endeavors. I hit a small road block that sent me on a bit of a downward spiral, my heart sinking and the tears falling as I thought, “Nothing is going to work. Great. I’m stuck again and I have no idea what to do… about anything. I can’t help anyone. In these moments, I typically express a combination of resigned sadness and outright irritability. I’m feeling far too much and I can’t possibly explain it in a way that will make anyone understand. It’s a lot, and I know it will pass, but I need to feel it and I need those feelings to be validated. It hasn’t always been okay to express them; I’ve spent a lot of my life guarding myself. If you’ve never heard of earth angels, that’s the only explanation that comes close to delving into the truth within my heart. No, I’m not being vain if that’s what you’re thinking. It’s describing a specific kind of person, and you’re welcome to look it up if you’re so inclined. My emotional nature combined with my anxiety and depressive symptoms has caused most that have been around me to grow frustrated and impatient with me, invalidating my feelings until my anxiety rears its head and I retreat into myself. That created a wall between my soft heart and the world around me full of people I loved who just didn’t always understand every facet of me, and I thought for a long time that this was okay, that maybe there was something wrong with me for making a big deal out of things and I just needed to set boundaries and keep to myself. Today was different, as has been the past year, three months, and twenty-four days I’ve been with my boyfriend Shane Lowe, adding on to the previous four years of friendship on which our foundation as a couple was built. He’s seen me at my worst and my best, and loves me all the same whether I’m blubbering like a baby or jumping for joy. He understands even when he thinks he doesn’t, and I couldn’t be more grateful for his soothing words and his kind heart. I cried today, after my little setbacks and reading about the concentration camps Trump is running full of immigrant children treated with less than respect all over Facebook, because let’s face it, that’s what they are. I thought about how it’s so easy to desensitize when we’re not living the disheartening realities we see on the news every day, and how helpless I feel, because I can’t single-handedly fix any of it. I cried, because my heart breaks for the pointless suffering that shouldn’t even be occurring, and here I was worrying about things that were seemingly insignificant and would work out in the end anyway. Shane held me and listened to my broken thoughts through my whimpering sobs, and in those moments he reminded me of our purpose to do all the good that we can, to spread love in every way that we have. He reminded me that while I can’t take care of all the immigrant babies who are running around in those centers without diapers or toothbrushes, I can give children from all walks of life the gift of self-expression through music. I am working towards certification, and I can be their teacher. I can show them kindness and empathy. I will show them what it means to love everyone and to embrace all identities one embodies. I can show them what it means to never forget where they came from. I can make a difference in my own way with my music and my career, and Shane can do the same with all that he does; his small business bringing the joy of music to listeners all over the world, his book and stories inspiring others, and his percussion and concert expertise enriching my life and our purpose and career together. He reminded me that I’m not alone. Not anymore. My spirits were lifted even if it was only a little bit, and more so when my mother re-shared a memory of mine saying how proud she is of me and how I’m living my life, and my friend Robin giving me a call to ask my opinion on her amazing song. I’m sitting here now, my back slightly propped up on pillows as I write, letting the words flow like the rainstorms that have been making their way through Kentucky. At first, I didn’t know where to start or how to express what I’m feeling right now and tie it to the tangible inspiration I felt the other day during that moment that became the title of this piece. The hardest part is always sitting down to write, but here we are. Let me tell you how I got here, because if you’ve read on this far, I suspect you’d like to know.
It was Friday, June 21. A mere three days ago, and the summer solstice. Shane and I had been looking forward to this day, because it would be at 5 PM EST that we would be heading to Owensboro to pick up his son, Kayson. We had last seen him on Father’s Day, and it warmed my heart to be a part of a family outing and to spend time getting to know Kayson’s mother Madelyn and the rest of Kayson’s immediate family. I was honored, and it was such a great day, but it is always hard to say goodbye. Every day that Kayson is not with us, we miss him. I’ve had the honor of being a part of his life for about a year now, and the thought of the acceptance that everyone has expressed and the inclusion of me into the narrative is enough to move me to tears. I’m an easy crier, but I rarely show it. This summer, I’m finding the courage to be my true self and feel every emotion as it passes which is why I didn’t suppress my joy when it was time to get in the car and go on our way. Shane’s mom Jennifer was driving; she has the same name as my mom, and I secretly call her mommy number two, but I’m still too shy to tell her that. Weather alerts sounded over the radio as the rainstorm that came rolling in poured down. We arrived safely at Kayson’s house around 6:30 Central, greeted by his Mimi and pawpaw. I stood sheltered by the door of the car, because my attempt to get out to meet Kayson had been met with giant puddles my flip-flops would not have appreciated. His little voice called to me, even before he saw me, and all at once, I loved him even more than I already could ever begin to say. This thought was the only one on my mind as I helped Mommy Number Two secure his car seat, and when it was time to brave the storm and drive back to Louisville, we all got settled. Kayson, Shane, and I played in the car, with Daddy and Precious, as Kayson calls us, being “ticklenators,” and hiding under Kayson’s blanket. We laughed and smiled as Kayson’s animated words and exclamations about semi trucks and other machines he saw on the road filling our hearts with nothing but joy. The storm was in full swing, thunder rumbling as we pulled into the driveway. Kayson had been jumping in muddy puddles like Peppa Pig before we had arrived to pick him up, so his shoes were all wet. One of us had to carry him into the house, and for the first time, he said,
“Precious, can you hold me?” Shane unbuckled him, and before I could begin to process the moment, Kayson had wiggled his way to my side of the car, and I carefully and confidently pulled him up into my lap facing me, readying to climb out the car with my arms full of this beautiful little boy who had never before asked me to pick him up without prompting. Somehow, I reached for the handle without crying, composing myself enough to get out of the Jeep Liberty we had ridden in, close the door with one hand, and follow Kayson’s Gigi inside, careful not to run into anything in the garage as we went. I set him down gently just inside the door, knowing that the gate was closed, so he was free to roam while we all got settled. It was late, so once we unloaded the car it was time to eat before playing a little bit and making goodnight calls to his mamma before bedtime. Kayson’s bed had to be remade since the linins had been washed, so I volunteered to do it, relishing every opportunity I got to be helpful and take care of Kayson. Honestly, I also needed the second to breathe, and smile, tears shining in my eyes as I crossed myself, thanking God and his angels in a whisper for the blessing of this child in my life, and his wonderful mother and father for bringing him into this world and welcoming me into both their lives and his; it wasn’t an easy road we had all followed, but we had made it to a great place and were a team. All at once, the weight of that evening’s small moment hit me. I remembered Kayson being shy, not wanting to hug me or be too close to me at first when I was new to him. I remember the small victories, like him designating a dump truck for me to play with when I was in town, and saying “love you Precious,” as sincere as a child can be over a Facetime call when I was back home in Boston, to him trusting me, and wanting me to play, to give him a bath, to prepare his food, to listen to my gentle coaxing and explanations about why we can’t put things in our mouths, to change his diaper. Through all of this, I had been nervous. I did not want to do anything he wasn’t comfortable with; I did not want to overstep any boundaries. Shane helped me through it all, and I learned to navigate the line of how to love Kayson as much as I did and be a part of his life, even knowing he wasn’t mine. As time passed, Kayson accepted me into his world full of trains, machines, laughter, and love. Daddy became Daddy and Precious, and Madelyn and her family gradually came to know me and accept me as part of Kayson’s life.
All of this hit me in a rush, a wave of joy and love that seemed to rise and swell in my heart like a tsunami, overriding anything in its path. I didn’t know how to express this, how to possibly put into words how incredible it was that things were so perfect in an imperfect world, that moments in time, people and love and family could blend together in harmony to weave such a beautiful tapestry, to raise such an incredible, intelligent, loving little boy who will go on to change the world. Maybe I can’t save all of the immigrant children, and maybe I can’t undo the horrors of this country and this world, but I can be a part of Kayson’s life. I can teach him Spanish, just like I did this past weekend as we chanted companeros in the hot tub, and called Gigi and Mimi abuela. I can use my education to teach him to play instruments and express himself through music just as Shane and Madelyn do. Maybe I can’t fix the world’s problems, but I can be a part of the loving and well-rounded village that raises Kayson up. I can be kind, loving, and empathetic. I can be a part of the good in his world, and show him that anything is possible. When he grows older, maybe he’ll want to know my story about what it’s like to be a blind Puerto Rican woman and teacher from Chelsea, Massachusetts in today’s political climate, and my story can help him understand all the different walks of life and identities that intersect in everyone, and what it looks like to love them all as they are, regardless of differences. I can’t change the world on my own, and I don’t want to, but Kayson taught me that I can do my part to make the world a better place, to help raise the next generation, just as my seven-year-old brother JJ has. , Thanks to Shane, his family, Kayson’s family, and my own, I don’t have to do it alone anymore. We are stronger together than when we walk alone, and as I sit here riding the wave of emotion that today has churned in my soul, I can smile a little with the flame of hope alight in my heart, because I know now that if Kayson’s life was the only life I could touch, and if I could be part of the reason that he smiles and believes that there is good to be found, that would be enough. I am enough, what I am doing is enough, and together, we are more than enough. Kayson, thank you for letting me hold you.