On May 28, 2014, people of all ages, genders, religion and socio-economic status lost a universal icon.
Before going on to glory, Dr. Maya Angelou touched the nation in ways too profound and too numerous to describe in a short blog. Attempting to do so would slight the memory of a woman whose contribution to society was larger than her magnificent life and as deep as the words she blessed us with through her poetry and her vivid narratives. The passing of the writer, civil rights activist, actress, dancer, director, academic and U.S Poet Laureate made national headlines as people across the U.S began sharing stories of how this remarkable woman inspired, encouraged and motivated them. Too bad it took her dying for social media to shift their attention away from the bizarre, foolish and mundane topics that dominate our consciousness every day.
I think it’s unfortunate that reports about Dr. Angelou’s health suggested that we were on borrowed time with this legend yet we did not duly honor her while she was here to enjoy it. It’s a sad sign of the times. I’m pretty sure that in the coming weeks her books and her poetry will fly off the shelves or be downloaded at a furious pace as if we are trying to make up for lost time having missed an opportunity to acknowledge one of God’s most perfect gifts while she walked among us. I am happy Dr. Angelou has gone on to a better place. Part of me believes deep down, she noted how shallow and distracted and numb to responsible thinking we have become; that she was all too happy to leave this foolishness behind. Inasmuch as she worked to make a difference, at her core she was always different; that is because she never settled to just be; she always strived to BECOME. Become smarter, greater, stronger, better.
Maya Angelous’s death summons up a painful reality: we have lost sight of the people and the experiences that shape us. We have stopped focusing on what matters and traded our common sense for drama that has absolutely nothing to do with improving our lives. When did we as a society, as a people, just stop striving to make a difference? When did we give up on progression? When did we resign to simply be average, to just exist instead of live? Why do we rush home to watch reality TV but when Mom, Dad, or grandparents call, we send them to voice-mail because we “don’t have time right now”? When did “turning up” at the club begin trumping going to church and family dinners? When did we decide it was more important to be our children’s friends than it was to parent and raise adults who respect their elders and themselves?
Dr. Angleou stopped trending on social media days after her passing, yet 2 weeks after a noted couple said “I do” in Europe, I can’t escape the pictures and the “sightings” and the entertainment buzz surrounding nuptials you weren’t even invited to much less remotely affected by. Meantime, I spoke to friends who read “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” so many times the pages of the book are worn and their lives are forever transformed by Dr. Angelou’s stories. Yet Dr. Angelou’s words are relegated to pithy status updates and memes that barely register amid the glare of nonsense.
I have lost the most important people in my life. I will never again have an opportunity to tell them how much they mean to me, how much they contributed to my life, how grateful I am that they love me and support me and teach me. Don’t get me wrong, I have no regrets. My loved ones knew how much I adored them. I just want to remind all of you, tomorrow is never promised. Ever. From a Dr. Angleou to a dear family member, God does not play favorites. When it’s time for Him to call them home, he will do so without hesitation. Don’t be caught off guard, with unspoken words and feelings, wishing for that one last time.