It’s an unusual start to my summer, waiting for my daughter to call from Portland and tell me, “Your grandson is on his way.” Finally, just decided to drive up there tomorrow and wait together up there. He—Malik— is due Tuesday, so there’s some wiggle room here. I predicted an early arrival just because Zadie was and second babies often are. What’s holding him up?
And then I thought, “Hmm. Here he is in a state of comfort and bliss that he will never know again quite so profoundly in his earthly life, the mother’s comforting heartbeat, constant feeding, floating in the ethereal watery womb. Why leave?”
And then I wondered if he knew more. Whether the shock waves of the latest racist terror in Charleston somehow registered and he’s thinking, “Whoah! No way I’m comin’ out into that!” Because even before he is born, he is endangered as a mixed-race male in a culture where the Confederate flag still flies in front of government buildings. I can see him having doubts, wondering what he’s getting himself into.
Well, Malik, there is no turning back now— you’ve signed up for the full catastrophe! Yes, you’ll arrive in a crazy, mixed-up world that can be terrifying. But hasn’t it always been? And it also is wondrous and beautiful and filled with goodness and laughter and glorious summer days and cozy winter nights and more miracles that we often realize in our day-today stupor.
Like your imminent arrival, for example. We’re awaiting you like the Three Kings following the star and here’s the good news. You have chosen a family that already wholly loves you, that wants you, that can’t wait to meet you. All of us. Your extraordinary mother and father and big older sister and bigger step-brother and your Pop-pop and Mima and Tita and yet more.
Such fun we have planned for you! Games and books and songs and long summer days on Lake Michigan and crisp Fall days walking around Portland and visits to San Francisco, where we’ll take you to our favorite places and treat you to an It’s It. We’ll surround you with our tribe of friends, good-hearted people working to make everyone feel wanted and welcomed. You will be fed and clothed and hugged and smothered with kisses and bounced and rocked and danced with, we will create a sacred circle of protection around you so you will one day be prepared to be turned loose with us always at your side. And this we vow: to keep working to educate the ignorant, to entice the resistant, to firmly rebuke the hurters until they’re ready to receive the love they so sorely miss in their confusion and hatred.
Your grandmother and I are driving up tomorrow and the next day is Summer Solstice. I think that’s a good time for you to emerge, don’t you agree? See you soon!