JEFFREY'S STORY ~ HOLIDAY SEASON: BITTERSWEET
My Mom went to prison when I was a senior at Howard University. My Mom was very present in me and my siblings life. All my childhood memories are of my Mom leaving cookies and milk out for Santa. Me and my siblings would always find every toy we asked Santa for under our tree. The memories are still very vivid and make me smile.
During the holidays while my mom was incarcerated I felt empty inside. I had no emotions at all. It was hard to find any signs of joy. I just thought about my mom not being home with us. How can I smile and be excited when the woman who I love was locked away like she meant nothing. How can you open up a gift and smile !!!! What hurt the most was her pretending to be happy for us. My Mom would call us on Christmas morning and put on her best happy voice. She always wanted to make sure we were in a good place. My Mom wanted our holidays to still be special and great even in her absence. That’s who she is!!!!!
During these times our Grandparents would provide all the love and care they knew we needed. I remember my Mom told us that the facility she was in gave them Christmas bags with all kinds of treats. My mom would divide her bag and send three separate boxes home for me and my siblings. The box contained candy easily found in the corner store. But the fact that it was from my Mom made it a treasure. Each year our Mom was away we looked forward to that package. You better believe that was the best gift under the tree.
The year my Mom was released from prison was right before the holiday’s. I remember watching her walk down the hill before being processed out. That was the happiest day of my life. The feeling is indescribable !!!!! You would only understand if you ever missed more than 2 holiday’s with your Mom. Imagine if you thought you lost your most prized possession. Then, one day you find it!!!!! Spending our first holiday together was amazing. Seeing my Mom like I remembered so many years ago hanging the bulbs on the tree. Watching that smile that lights up a room. It made me cry because I knew what her presence represented. Her presence represented Strength, Endurance, Black Girl Magic. I remember my Mom asking me and my siblings what we wanted the first Christmas she was home. What could we have asked for ??? We had all we wanted. We had our Mom. We had all what we wanted and needed.
All my family members were at my house to welcome my Mom home. We gathered in a circle to tell what we were most thankful for. Me and my siblings were too choked up to speak. Everyone in that circle knew what our tears meant. We were grateful to have our Mom home. And no gift or amount of money could ever take the place of Vanee Sykes.