Lying in bed last night, I couldn't stop thinking about:
my teenage daughter awash with insecurities,
my lesbian friends unable to marry legally in Virginia,
all the articles I've read recently about bullying,
and recent news that the Violence Against Women Act has become a partisan issue.
What came to mind was the scene in Kathryn Stockett's novel The Help where Aibileen Clark, a black maid, is falsely charged with stealing and has to say a quick goodbye to Mae Mobley, the white child she has raised:
"Baby Girl," I say. "I need you to remember everything I told you. Do you remember what I told you?"
She still crying steady, but the hiccups is gone. "To wipe my bottom good when I'm done?"
"No, baby, the other. About what you are."
I look deep into her rich brown eyes and she look into mine. Law, she got old-soul eyes, like she done lived a thousand years. And I swear I see, down inside, the woman she gone grow up to be. A flash from the future. She is tall and straight. She is proud. She got a better haircut. And she is remembering the words I put in her head. Remembering as a full-grown woman.
And then she say it, just like I need her to. "You is kind," she says, 'you is smart. You is important."
+ + +
I want to send a belated Valentine's Day "thank you" to the people who help us to believe such things about ourselves. May we say them over and over again, until we know they're true.