So Mama Maya has been gone less than a week. Back home, we’d be getting ready to sit down for the traditional one-week ceremony and decide Things. I just found out the Wake is on Saturday, but that it is private. The compromise though is that it will be streamed. It’s amazing how some folks can get so big that they “belong” to the world, way beyond their family, so much so that their family has to demand a private service.

I spent my day cooking, interviewing a potential client for one of the open positions on our campus, taking a forty-minute walk into the town center, and two glorious hours in the library. I had forgotten how much I loved books. I walked around for about an hour and then I read curled up in a window seat, for another hour. It felt like I had not a care in the world.

I bring up Mama Maya though because I did a search for her books and all of them were out. The ones placed on the “latest arrivals” shelves were for limited borrowing times. I guess I’m glad she is still being read. I picked up her Hallelujah The Welcome Table, which I own but is currently in storage in California. I picked it up because I’ve been wanting to return to my memoir which in its original form was a book of shorts interspersed with recipes.

With Mama on my mind, I got home and decided to read some online materials on the various memorials people are doing and that’s when I came upon the Caged Bird movie. The complete film is online and with a little patience for the sound and picture quality, I began watching. I decided to pause right when Maya met Freeman because I knew I didn’t want to be triggered. I was already triggered by the dehumanization of racism, but I had pressed through my building anger thinking: this is a classic, you should see it!

I have paused because as much as some things are classics and have life lessons, I think having lived some of these life lessons is enough to pass on the classics (sometimes). I might return to it, who knows. In any case, I’ve got Mama Maya on my mind: who she was, from whence she came and what she has come to mean for all of us. She’s so big now. Beyond her family. We each own a little piece of her and how she has made us feel about ourselves, especially us as Black women.

I will light a candle for her on the one-week. May the ancestors who have gone before, receive her awa awa atoo.

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