I lost my mama this week. Not my mama. But my mama-mama. The woman that raised me. The one that shielded me. The one that fried chicken in Crisco (with milk gravy on the side) and made strawberry cake for my birthday. The one that hugged me every morning, so tightly that I can still smell her love. The one that watched her stories as she ironed my school uniform and sang gospel songs as she hand-crafted our family’s dinner for the day. The one from whom I threw away cigarettes from her purse because I couldn’t afford her to die and leave me without my fried chicken and strawberry cake and life-giving embrace.

Grief is a perverse bastard. She stays faraway unless, of course, you choose to love. Loving requires letting go and that is grief’s opportunity to steal center stage. That bitch grandstands, swooping in and taking over, like an Oklahoma twister that grips your body and soul without rescue.

Yes, love is costly.

But, in the case of my mama-mama, I can’t fathom my childhood without her. Her consistent love, disguised in southern cooking and enthusiastic affection, was beyond price.

Rest in peace, Mrs. Russell. Wherever you are, it’s your time now. Put your tired feet up and let the Universe love on you as you loved on so many of us.

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