I felt well nourished from a day with my father and sister. We went to church, visited our grandfather in the home, and spend the day together.
But it was the ceremony at the church that struck me most. The priest lit a candle for each man and women, nine total, lost in the Charleston attacks. A black man with a soulful song sang high and proud with praise and reverence for those lost.
I cried. When an attack happens, any shooting or horrible crime in masses, my immediate response is one of defense: I disconnect. I fear the media for it’s too dramatic mis-tellings, and I fear the very violent truth.
My reaction is disbelief. Then it is anger and sadness.
I also fear that a world so drawn to screens and comforts can only be disrupted by such brutality. That it will be so again and again, because this is the way to seek our attention. This is how you can churn a story that marks a place in history for the sick and twisted.
But the priest said it so elegantly today - may we seek and provide comfort and healing, leadership and unity through such times. This is the very opposite of what a hate filled man who speaks with a language of violence would want.
We all deal with a confused web of emotions, our words and our survival tactics out at the forefront, exploited again with each act of violence spreading the wildfire. I fear what happens when we learn to breath in the smoke and accept the shocks that settle in us, to await the moment of self-eruption.
I write and I pray for the healing waters we carry with us to be shared. We can work to heal for the future.
We are always shedding. Sometimes it’s painful, sometimes a release.
It happens at times of transition. A new job, a new town, a new friend. In order to fit a new beginning we must peel back layers.
A small piece falls off from the last apartment. A new suite slips on for the new job. A shoe or two are put on to help us better walk forward. Because we are changing shape now.
There are the painful partings, knowing when a friend out of the past will remain in the past now. Outgrown. No longer on the same journey. The colors and the warmth and the size were all there once, but now they are too small. It is not for you.
They do not wear or support you right. It is time to go.
We are always shedding. But that's alright. We have many so many layers to live and to leave.
I loved writing this piece and am so grateful to help tell the story of Detroiter Edward Tony Green.
Tony played bass for the Dramatics, but when the Motown group began to fade away he went through a period of transition. He shares his story on going from Motown to playing bass with Dr. Dre & Snoop Dog in this essay.
“The whole West Coast sound is really the whole Motown sound infused with mood synthesizer. The bass is Motown,” said Tony Green. “The bass is always Motown.”
Now published in a special music edition of the Museum of Americana, Issue 8. Click here for Roadwork, the story of Tony Green.
This essay is part of a series of essays on Detroiter's reinventing.
My uncle said to me yesterday: "Your Grandpa Jack would be rolling in his grave if he knew you were working on the holiday. Rolling in his grave."
I tried to respond that it's just two meetings. I still have time to visit.
"He'd be appalled. Listen to what you are saying - it's just two meetings?" He was shouting at me from the gate to my grandma's yard.
Both of my grandfather's fought in the second World War. Jack passed after the war and his third heart attack, leaving behind my grandma and her five kids. He was a tough man.
My other grandfather dropped bombs around Europe and wrote each diary entry around every trip, every bomb dropped. He wrote about the smoke and the debri and the death. He wrote so many times that he was scared shitless.
Mom says Grandpa Jack, Uncle Joe, and myself included all work too hard. That our family has always worked too hard. Here we are on a Sunday working through the long hours of sun in the garden and I'm listening to my uncle shout a warning at me as I head home to work.
We work for ourselves and for others. We work and we work, but not on this holiday.