Saturday, February 6, 2010

the secret life of more women than you can imagine

have you ever read a book that moved you deep down in your soul? a book that you could actually feel down in the tips of your fingers? a book that you knew would change your outlook forever? that happened for me when i read the secret lives of bees. it is also one of the FEW books that translated so well onto the silver screen that rather than ruining it, life was breathed into the story.

twice, i've paid for a movie on demand. i know it'll be free in the blink of an eye, but i paid to watch the secret lives of bees. i watched it with my daughter. i felt like all of my christmases came in one day when she loved it like i did. when she was moved by the women the same way i was. when she was outraged over the abuse of lilly, and when she wept over may.

we're watching it again, now. as i type this, lilly is telling august that rosaleen fell down some stairs. may is moved to tears over the wound on rosaleen's forehead.

the conversation with my beloved this time around was different than the first time we watched. the first time we watched, she was awe struck and wonder filled, the same way i was. this time, she was EXPECTING the gunshot. she knew lilly was about to be motherless.

i talked to her about little girl lilly. about how little girl lilly saw a gun and turned it into an opportunity. an opportunity to stop the torture. the torture she was too pure to understand. without any comprehension of the finality of death, and no good sense and no good aim, she fired. and she killed her mother. instead of her father.

i explained to her that she made a decision that no little girl is capable of making with reason. that cameron wouldn't make at eight, because cameron knows that death is forever. a decision that is too heavy for any little girl to bear the consequences of. i explained to her that in trying to rescue herself and her mother from their abuser, she sent her mother to the ultimate refuge. that she did in fact, rescue her mother. and that no just god would punish a child for what she had done. that fourteen year old lilly would never forgive little girl lilly for what she had done, even though her mother forgave her the moment it happened.

i'm going to tell you this. oppression will KILL you. you can be rosaleen. you can work for a slave master past the time of legal slavery, and one day you can't take it anymore and the rebellion inside you explodes and the result almost costs you your life. you can be august. you can be oppressed by the burden of taking care of your homestead and your sisters and your family business and you can pretend to be fulfilled, all while making sure no one gets too close. you can be june. you can be oppressed by the goals and standards that you place upon yourself to the point that you become abrasive and refuse the love that will soften your heart. you can be may. you can be oppressed by the emotion that overflows from every pore of your being until you one day decide that you can not face it for one more day. you can be lilly. you can be oppressed by the past that you are unable to change and by the fear of the impending future that you must face.

or you can be me. you can be oppressed by a life that you did not choose. dreams unrealized, truth unspoken, authenticity smothered, breathing in, breathing out. the whispers of those who love and support you in your ear, "leave! choose a different path! don't be oppressed anymore!" if only it were that simple. instead, i breathe. i just take the next breath.

and i pray with each breath that my daughter has the bravery of lilly to change her reality no matter the cost. the rebellion of rosaleen to stand up for herself even if it causes pain. the sense of responsibility of august to get the job done when it needs to be done. the tenacity of june to reach her goals and never let fear stand in her way. the capacity for feeling of may to experience all that life has to offer in her heart, and not just in her head.

and back to lilly. i pray that my daughter has the strength to kiss the boy. the boy that the world says is wrong but she knows in her heart is the right boy. too often, the boy that the world says is the right boy because of where he comes from could not be more wrong. just because your families look the same does not make it a good match. i want my cameron to kiss the boy whose heart speaks to hers. even if it looks wrong on the outside.

i don't want my cameron to live a secret life. the secret life of her mother. i just want her to live.


  1. You are one of the strongest, most beautiful people I know. You shine, you're dazzling. Your authenticity and vulnerability are powerful. Sometimes I can't help but wonder how many people have found their voice by listening to you use yours so well.

  2. Traveling with Pomegranates. I just read it and loved it. So much.