Your Blues Is Like Mine: Things Fall Apart

by Kirsten West Savali

Sometimes in life there comes a point when we all need perspective. And it usually comes at that moment when we’re so wrapped up in our own shit that it shocks us to our core that someone, somewhere, has it just as bad as we do.

That moment came for me when I witnessed the tears of a “clown.”

Comedian Anthony Griffin stood, stoic, in front of a crowd and the first words out of his mouth were, “Charles Dickens’ classic tale, ‘Tale of Two Cities,’ starts off with the phrase, ‘It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.’”

He then begins to share with the crowd how his worlds collided. Just as his career was blossoming with appearances on the legendary ‘Tonight Show’ with Johnny Carson, his 2-year-old daughter’s life was withering away, poisoned by cancer. He takes his audience on this emotionally heightened tightrope of laughter, hope, despair, pain, shame, relief, anger and ultimately, love — for his daughter and for his craft.

His story ends with his career flourishing, and his 2-year-old daughter buried in a dress that he selected.

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”

I sat there, tears streaming from eyes, holding my 2-week-old baby boy and looking at my late father’s suits hanging in my closet – because I can’t let them go – and I reflect on my last year and a half. The death of my father, my best friend, my rock, my everything, who died alone in his bed in Mississippi while I was across the country in Los Angeles, excited because my first article had just been published in the Huffington Post. I would be down to my last penny and he never told me to give up on my dream, even when I know he was worried out of his mind. In the wake of his death, the family fractured in some places that will never heal, but demand for my work increased. So I wrote, and wrote. I wrote about President Barack Obama and Planned Parenthood. I wrote about religion and the LGBT community. I took the blows of critics left and right, because life Griffin, my work now had an edge, a fearlessness. It lacked a safety net and no one knew that the one person whose opinion I cherished above all others was no longer here, so I just didn’t give a damn what anyone else thought.

Then there is working, night after night, giving editors what they ask for, when they ask for it, but not receiving payment. Phone calls and emails go ignored until they need you again. There was one night that we had no electricity, living off pancakes, and I had to borrow gas money to make it to NPR’s studio for my first national radio appearance the next morning to talk about Eric Holder and Erykah Badu and Creflo Dollar. Life is what it is and we just keep pressing – because we’re supposed to.

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”

Like Griffin, my dream and my family are all I have. That’s all many of us have. So we ignore the deconstructive criticism and the roadblocks. We stumble, but we get right back up, because we have to. Because people are depending on you; hell, you’re depending on you and if you quit, the entire stack of cards comes tumbling down.

In the end, though, Griffin said he’d give it all back to be able to share a bag of french fries with his baby girl again.  I feel the same. I’d trade every byline and radio appearance just to hear my father say, “I love you baby girl” one last time.

And what this “clown” reminded me of during the dawn hours as pain and perspective collided, is that hurt is not selective.  Just like I’m mourning, the stranger on the sidewalk is mourning. My grief is no more relevant than yours and life does not do anyone any favors. We take joy where we can find it; we share beauty when we can. We move on, yet we savor each moment because life is more fragile than the finest glass.

I still get beyond angry when people don’t pay me on time, but I am grateful to finally be successful doing what I love for a living. My heart remains broken as the anniversary of my father’s death approaches; yet it sings as I look at my husband and our three sons — his grandsons.

Why?

Because it is the best of times and the worst of times. And in the end, time is all we have.

What are you doing with yours today?

  • Crystal

    This was right on time. My husband of 10 years left. My son is 10 months old. As I mourn I know that this too shall pass.

  • Downsouth Transplant

    “We take joy where we can find it; we share beauty when we can. We move on, yet we savor each moment because life is more fragile than the finest glass.”

    Thank YOU for the reminder Kirsten,

  • Downsouth Transplant

    @ Crystal, you are right it shall pass & daybreak will come, until then keep the faith, will keep you lifted up in my prayers XX

  • cocochanel31

    Wow this was great and right on time!

  • Lady P

    This article and between a 6-year old baby girl molested and beaten to death in my hometown over the weekend, I am experiencing uncontrollable tears.

    I am so thankful for it all –the good and the bad. Either way, God is my Jehovah Jireh! Thank you! We all need reminders of just how blessed we are.

  • LN

    Wow. I almost cried reading this post. It is SO relevant to my life right now. I gave birth to my first child, a beautiful son, just two weeks ago. My husband is so excited. We’re both thrilled. Financially we’re doing very well. Just bought a new car, saving towards a house and earning more than we imagined we would.

    But life is also difficult. I grew up in a dysfunctional and traumatic family environment, and a lot of toxic emotions came to a head with the birth of my son. I won’t get into details, but my brother banned my son from ever seeing his son, my father — out of spite — canceled his trip to come see his grandson, my other brother is apathetic about it all, my sister cut ties with me, and my mother — who I flew out after the birth so that she could meet her grandson/support me with adjusting to a newborn — had to leave early because she brought so much anger, drama and chaos into my home.

    So it’s two weeks after the birth of my beautiful son, and no one in my family cares. It hurts so badly that my family despises me and — by extension — my child so much.

    But as mentioned in the article, that is the nature of life. Good and bad often co-mingle.

    There’s this quote about how you should be kind to everyone you meet because they are fighting a battle. It’s so true. The older I get the more I realize that life is a great equalizer. My marriage and money — though great blessings — haven’t shielded me from deep, gut-wrenching pain and hurt.

  • African Mami

    First, congratulations Kirsten!!! What a blessing. Glad he is here. Second, beyond excited to see that you are back, with your thought provoking posts! This was a great read, as ALWAYS!

  • Dalili

    Thank you Kirsten! Congratulations your new baby and on soaring to greater heights. My thoughts are with as the anniversary of your father’s death approaches.

  • Dalili

    Sissy!! Hope all is well with you in your corner of the world. :-)

  • cocochanel31

    Stay encouraged LN! You never know how GOD can and will turn that situation around! Focus on your precious baby boy and your loving husband.

  • African Mami

    Oh miiiii gosh!! Sisssy, long time!! I’m good oo. And you?

    By the way, our family is growing, I’d like to introduce you to another sista, LaNubiana. :) If you see her commenting, say hi!!:)

  • http://gravatar.com/lovegiraffes onegirl

    Congratulations Kirsten!!
    Yes, the good and the bad, the ebb and the flow. It’s a vicious cycle that we all go through. Perfect article for this dreary day. Thank you for sharing your feelings and story with us. You’re not alone.

  • Dalili

    Am good too, no complaints whatsoever.

    Yay on the family addition! I’ll be sure to send greetings her way. :)

  • Nix

    I need this so much. Thank you.

  • Whatever

    Very nice post.

    I was just having a conversation with my boyfriend over the weekend about what really matters in life. I told him it used to be all about career and professional achievements as the post college rat race began, but now that I’m almost 30 that has changed. Family, happiness and being at peace has taken over. You can have plenty of money and a booming career with all the material items possible but without your own happiness, inner strength, peace and family support it will all mean nothing and you will still feel empty inside. Sometimes you just have to slow down a bit, take it all in and focus on what truly matters in life.

  • Cece

    Thank You.

  • A.D.R.

    What a GREAT article!

  • justanotheropinion

    @Whatever – that is the wisdom that comes with age. Your knowledge will take you far.

  • justanotheropinion

    My dad always use to say that it was important to be nice & respectful to all that we meet as everyone has a ‘story’ and most are worse than yours – you just don’t know it. Thank you for sharing. And don’t think for a moment that your dad is no longer on this journey with you – he is. He will always be there, you only have to listen for his “voice”.

  • tee

    WOW!

  • Mademoiselle

    This message is one that doesn’t get nearly enough airtime. Loved this article.

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