The Mother Who Was Always There: Maya Angelou 1928-2014

She nourished us. She protected us. She guided us.

She was not who gave birth to us, but she raised us all like we were her own.

Her 86 years of sacrifice tested us to no longer fear living.

As our mothers worked tirelessly throughout the day’s hours, sometimes sixteen, eighteen, even twenty, just to put food on the table, Dr. Angelou’s words were there to lift us up so we can dream of a day where our mothers would not need to.

As our mothers fought for equal treatment in a world full of spiteful men, her constant battle in some of our country’s darkest days and beyond taught us not to be timid or spineless. To take full responsibility of ourselves. To say, if we don’t know what we’re here to do, then do something good.

When we felt trapped, directionless, fearful of a future that felt predestined, like our tireless mothers, she gave us hope. She gave us dreams. She gave us a future. She reminded us why the caged bird sings. The fearful trill of the things unknown. The dreams yet lived. That even with clipped wings and tied feet, the caged bird sang of freedom.

When others would say “you are not good enough”, when we came home our mothers would say “that’s not true.” When mom was not around, Dr. Angelou told us to rise, to say we are great enough, to reach for the highest possible mountain with the strength and beauty of our minds.

The times we felt like we were too tough to take on the world, too good for the guidance of others, too boastful to see our weakness in the mirror, Dr. Angelou gave us the bread that was not stone, the water that was not thirsty, the reminder that nobody, but nobody, can make it through life alone.

With that bread, she fed us with knowledge. She fed us with the gift of her words. She fed us with the heart that bled for the world.

Like our mothers who sat at our bedside as we cried ourselves to sleep, Dr. Angelou told us that sleep will never come.

That in the struggle lies the joy.

That life will give back to us what we put into it.

Though she is not my mother, her presence will always inspire.

Though I will never meet her, her words will always walk with me.

Though she will never open her eyes again, her vision will empower us all.

You lived with passion, Dr. Angelou. Now rest in paradise.

We will carry your words on the wings of your legacy until the end of time.