As I look back on my life, there are many missing patches.
I never told Momma that I remembered a time in my life without her. This meant that I must be one of the three that were adopted. I never did feel adopted. None of us did.
My life as a child was filled with encouragement, positivity and strength. I clung to my Momma and believed with my whole heart everything she said.
Momma used to tell me that I was strong and that I could grow up to be whatever I wanted. I remember being about 3 years old when we had this conversation. In fact, I think it was when I was 3 that I was adopted by her.
Anyway, my list of what I wanted to be at age 3 varied on a daily basis. I wanted to grow up to be a chocolate maker, traffic warden, shoe maker and, on most days, one of the little ponies. Until one day when I saw the lights go out in our house.
Momma had always been around. She did everything and we never even realized that we were missing a dad. Momma was our dad too. She was brave and never looked worried. It wasn’t until the day the lights went out. I remember being scared, I was afraid of the dark a lot then. It was impossible for me to pick up a black crayon let alone sit in a dark room.
When the lights went out, I gripped hold of my little doll – Belle – and I wept!
I remember Momma quickly coming to find me in the darkness. She rushed over to me, hugged me then held my shoulders and looked me square in the face. She said to me “Baby Belle, now I want ya ta dig deep nah. Ya hear? I want ya to dig down real deep nah little girl. The dark aint nuthin’ but dah light in reverse, and sometimes it make sense fah all thangs ta go in reverse some of dah time. Is natural and all tings natural is Gods work, ya hear me?” Momma had a New Orleans twang that shone through whenever she got really serious with us.
It was a confusing logic to follow. I was only 3, but it was the look on her face that made me get it. Well, not the look, but the fact that I could actually see her face in the dark. I realized then and there that there isn’t ever absolute darkness. I hadn’t noticed that the light from the moon had bounced all over the space enough for me to make out some of her face. There were some parts I couldn’t see, but I focused on the parts that I could see. It comforted me.
I asked her why we lost the lights. Momma was always honest. She explained that she hadn’t made the payment yet, but that she would tomorrow since she had just received a check in the mail. I listened, but all I felt was a desire to help her. If there was a way to make it so she never lost the light again, I would. She must have noticed my frown, because it was then that she cupped my face and beamed at me saying, “Baby Belle, it is you, dahrlin’. You are my light, littul girl. Don’t you ever f’get that.”
I’ll never forget that moment. That night I slept in the dark for the first time, and as I did I decided that I didn’t want to be a little pony, a chocolate maker, a shoe maker or anything else when I grew up. Instead, I decided…
I’m gonna be the President of the United States.