The New Year approaches, and I've begun to reflect on where I am today and where I have been. I see so many - beautiful, strong, brown - faces that have led me to where I am today. To you I say, gracias. Gracias por vivir, arder, and overall being a part of my life. Gracias for thriving and inspiring.
Gracias puta, for holding it down as a single mother of two grown boys and a doctoral student at a prestigious university. You have shown me what real strength looks like, in your ability to be vulnerable. You have shown me that crying is okay, in front of people or behind closed doors. You have shown me that I can speak as loud as I want, no matter the space, and that being told to quiet down is oppressive to our roots and our deep desire to be heard, as WOC.
Gracias libre, for being honest about who you are to yourself and teaching me to do the same. Thank you for holding the complicated tension of both loving and being critical of our elders, especially our parents, who have loved us and oftentimes hurt us the deepest. Thank you for coming to me, and demanding that I be strong for you, for us - you have let me see that I can be strong for those I love.
Gracias chingona, for pursuing the unthinkable and never letting your status stop you from pursuing your dreams. For loving, unconditionally, the small person that has blessed your life - without skipping a beat - and demanding others to never question neither your love nor your conviction. You teach me all the time to be fearless and relentless. You were the first woman I saw, in-person, who fought for la raza because you saw your identity intertwined with all of ours.
Gracias loca, for giving me words to name my experiences. Thank you for embodying the divine, for me. Thank you for keeping me afloat when I was drowning in darkness. Thank you for loving me, when I felt the most unlovable. Thank you for teaching me what radical self-love felt like...I am alive because you hugged life back into me, in my darkest of moments. I will forever cherish you and our friendship.
Gracias chonga, for reminding me that life is to be enjoyed. For showing me that la lucha siempre sigue, and it is okay to nap off the hurt and to take care of me. For following your heart and being the most giving person I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Gracias for being carefree and full of life, and for being generous toward me when I was not.
To my mother, who has stumbled but never failed me. Thank you for adapting and holding my new reality, your new reality--OUR new reality--in your hands and in your heart. Your upbringing did not prepare you for a daughter like me, but somehow you have stayed loyal and warm toward me. Gracias for teaching me to be strong. Thank you for holding me at nights when my anxiety made me have body tremors. Thank you for letting me cry and letting me laugh, when you did not know where it came from. Thank you for flying me home in the blink of an eye, when I called you asking for my mami.
Because of all of you, I am. Our lives may take us in different directions, but I call you home and whenever you need a home to come to, come to me and I will hold you as you held me for so long.