Today makes five years since I buried Mama and, last night, I had a dream about her!

Actually, because it was in real time, it wasn’t a dream. Mama *came* to me last night!

I got her approval on some things and she spoke her mind about other things that have happened lately.
One of my mother’s friends/coworkers was also in the dream because Mama was attending to something for him, as well. He made some joke about how she’s supposed to be resting. Mama said she’s resting and working.
I woke up and immediately wrote that down! That great cloud of witnesses we each have is resting from their labor *and* working on our behalf.
There’s so much I remember about that day five years ago. The overwhelming love and respect so many people had for my mama. The real care and love folks gave me.

I remember the stories and tributes shared. The songs sung.
Mama’s pastor Dennis Bishop’s eulogy and our forever pastor John H. Walker’s words that I’ve clung to help me make sense of what happened that week before. “The master calleth thee.” (John 11:28-29).
I remember how it felt to stand before Mama’s casket at the cemetery, confess that I didn’t understand why any of this was happening, kiss it and become completely undone. I did not want to leave Evergreen Cemetery because I didn’t want to leave my mama.
I couldn’t actually envision a world without her and leaving that cemetery would mean I’d have to face it.

When we got back, I remember telling my godsister Tonja that I was going to my room and wouldn’t be back down for the rest of the day.
All of my friends crowded in my room and in the library just to let me know they were there. Wall to wall friends as we laughed and cringed as Layla fed me Sour Patch Kids from her sticky fingers because she said I needed to eat.
I laid in the bed my mother bought in the house my mother built wearing the dress I wore to her funeral surrounded by folks she considered adopted children because of their relationships with me.
There’s so much that I want to say about how folks treat you when you’re grieving...when your entire world has turned upside down and it takes you too long to turn it right side up again. I’ve addressed some of it in my book.
I have tried to give people the grace Mama asked me to give them the day before she died, when she called to tell me about the bombing in Paris and that our family friend Jasmine was safe. She told me that people do the best they can. I want to believe that but I don’t know.
From my experience, people will *say* that they understand what you’re going through and give you space to deal with loss but they really don’t. They still expect you to show up as you have been and adjust your grief to best suit them.
I honestly don’t know if people are actually doing the best they can or if my mother had a faith and belief in humanity I’d not yet developed. What I knew was I doing the best I could and that’s all that mattered.
I’ve been asked to speak on panels, podcasts, webinars about losing your mother and I always decline. Whether or not that’s something I do in the future, it’s not something I want to do now for a number of reasons.
But folks, especially sisters, often reach out after their mothers have passed away for some sort of advice. I feel bad because I wonder if it’s actually helpful.

I always tell them to allow the grieving process to take shape in them how it will.
I know folks like to talk about “grieving well”/not bleeding on social media. Welp. That’s exactly what I did. Would I change any of it? Nope. Do I take lessons to apply to the public processing of grief and trauma in the future? Absolutely. Was any of it a mistake? Not at all.
Nobody can dictate your journey. Our responses to trauma, loss, pain and grief may look different but I really believe they have to be authentic to who we are if we’re going to emerge from the depths whole.
I do not wish the feeling I had when I turned away from my mother’s casket to walk back to the car on my worst enemy. It was a darkness that was darker than what I thought was possible. And I had to make my way through that. Some days I can’t believe that I did.
But I didn’t do it alone. I’m grateful for a God who didn’t leave me, true community (family, friends, colleagues, social media buddies) and a mama who is resting and working.

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More from @CandiceBenbow

21 Nov
If you've been following me awhile, you know that I talked about the rough fight against the bank to keep my mother's home and having to accept that, to keep fighting, would mean using the resources Mama left me and Uncle Dean and my BFF helped me to see she wouldn't want that.
But my prayer was always that the house would eventually go to a family of color. Mama was proud of integrating our neighborhood and having the largest house (5 bedrooms) at the time and the only one with a stone front! LOL!
Yall. I learned today that MAMA'S HOUSE WENT TO ANOTHER BLACK WOMAN!!! And not only is it any Black woman, it's another sister that my mother knew and respected!!! And not only is it another sister Mama knew and respected, they both have the same first name!!!
Read 4 tweets
20 Nov
At least twice a week, my friends and I question why we went to seminary and grad school only to be in conversation with folks who don’t take our work or what we do seriously enough to engage it in ways that will challenge them to be introspective and better.

It’s frustrating.
I got a few messages this morning from pastors who will stand with me privately but will never say the same things publicly. I’m used to that.

Still, it’s frustrating and cowardly AF.
Black feminist/womanist theological work is not easy, especially when you make it clear you’re not invested in any form of upholding patriarchal systems and powers, even when Black women can *benefit* from it.
Read 5 tweets
19 Nov
But can we really say White people haven’t been able to control the Black church when, as an institution, it is deeply sexist, classic homophobic, transphobic, ableist and, ultimately, anti-Black?

White “people” may not have control there but White supremacy definitely does.
*should say “classist, homophobic” not “classic homophobic”
I know folks are feeling a way about the right wing attacks on Warnock, the Black preaching tradition and how they are reminiscent to what happened to Jeremiah Wright during Obama’s run. But let’s not be ahistorical.
Read 6 tweets
29 Aug
When tragedies and losses happen, let us resist the notion that God has allowed these things to tell us something.
While it may seem comforting in theory, it suggests that God has to hurt us to get our attention and, because the pain and traumatic experiences happen to some in ways it does not happen to others, it creates additional questions of favoritism and the inevitable "why".
"Why them and not someone else?"
"Why me?"

And though we like to believe it, there is no answer to these questions sufficient enough to understand and compensate for our losses and experiences.
Read 7 tweets
21 Aug
I spent so much of my time online calling out the Black Church and Black male pastors for the ways they uphold and live into sexism and patriarchy. They *know* better; they just don’t *do* better.

The bar is so low and they all pass it.
I read and watched their reactions to #WAP, talking about the need for protection/dignity to be restored to their “queens”. They said nothing about protecting Meg weeks prior when she told us she was shot (and we knew who did it).
I spent so much time over the years writing essays, tweets and rants—trying to get these dudes to see us. To go beyond their thin “I support women in ministry” veneer to do real theological, ethical paradigm shifting.

The greatest advice I received was to stop wasting my time.
Read 8 tweets
7 Aug
In all seriousness, the saddest part of seeing sisters have such negative reactions to #WAP is mainly because I know they’re lying. They’re either:

1) consistently smashing on the low and pretending to feel bad about it because they think that’s what they’re supposed to do.
2) consistently or periodically smashing on the low, feeling guilty about it and asking God to deliver them...until the next time when the cycle repeats itself.

3) secretly wishing they were 1 or 2 but are too afraid so they publicly ridicule while privately envying.
Black Christian women are some of the most repressed folks on the planet because, whether they’re getting it in or not, so many sisters can’t get out of their own heads to get out of their own way.
Read 6 tweets

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