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Weakened from COVID I was surprised by the death of Mama, my paternal grandmother. Her death was shocking, and brutal because it was so unexpected.

Brownie and I spent almost two weeks in grams in our village and it was a rollercoaster. We had moments of pure bliss walking around the property, watching him run free. Other moments Mama’s dementia would kick in and with it came the accusations. Why was I touching her stuff? What had I stolen? Who was I?

None of this hurt me. I understood her illness, had seen hints of it in grams. but when she lost her self we found ourselves in different relationships. I was her granddaughter, friend, daughter, sister, and sometimes her mother. It was a gift to be all of these things.

We had plans. I would live with her, we would share her last years. In that home. Because she was home. In a country that I often felt didn’t belong to me, didn’t accept me fully, she was home.

My grandmothers rooted me. In The Bronx and in the Dominican Republic.

Losing grams left me unchained. Losing mama felt like being weeded. Right when I was beginning to dig in and find comfort in the darkness. Mama’s death enraged me and it took me longer than I would like to admit to focus on her being at peace.

Mama is who I inherited my illnesses from. She suffered from pain her entire life. She married at 13 and had 13 children. All the while she suffered from debilitating back pain, colic, and intestinal problems. She didn’t eat much; so many things caused her pain. She complained incessantly. Her loved ones had grown tired of her ways; she received little medical support.

Because of what she endured I felt a sense of responsibility to provide comfort, love and empathy. I was her favorite grandchild, probably because the more I learned about her, the less I judged her. This is the lesson mama left me with. You don’t run away from a person because of their flaws and limitations.

Mama was difficult. She was difficult. She didn’t want to have a lot of children. She liked animals more than people. She longed to be loved. She loved harshly. She was flawed, but loved me enough to be honest.

A couple of weeks after her death she sent me a message via a dream my aunt had.

Via this dream she comforted me and helped me to find joy in the moments she shared with me… she also gave me permission to start again. I am not sure what that means at the moment. But I am following the crumbs of creation, hopefully they lead me to my destination…

While I get there I am refocusing Ojala. I’m not spending much time on social media, mainly because it doesn’t push forward the goals I set for Ojala. When my nephew got sick I wanted to make him a thing that would speak to his identity fully. Becoming a business and focusing on profit distracted me from this. I stopped creating.

So the first step in redefining who Ojala and I will be is focusing on the actions that will honor my intention. In this spirit I created a design to honor the work I am doing with sacred caved in the Dominican Republic.

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