Today, I cried. Cried in a way that I haven’t for a long time; turned on my shower and the water running into my mouth was bittersweet. I was crying because Maya Angelou died. She has left this world for a better one; she left us mere mortals clutching again at frayed hopes of a distant, beautiful future that she knew we would never be able to reach. I believe the way she is beautiful, no one in their wildest dreams could ever be. Now, she isn’t my favorite writer nor have I read most of her books. But from the faint glimpses of whatever literary work I could get my hands on, I have marveled at how she gave me hope.
She, not being a living person in my life, gave me hope from this one line “If someone shows you who they really are, believe them”. I believed her. I believed her not because I wanted to (I was a downright cynic at that point in my life) but she made me, forced me, held me at imaginary gunpoint, to look at the world the way she saw it. Her face, wrinkled from years of having to tolerate a world she so desperately wanted to be nicer; her crinkled, twinkling eyes, looking right through me even if I’m scrolling through her quotes on BuzzFeed; her bushy, fuzzy hair making me want to confess to her how much I truly owed my happiness to her. I returned to the point of being happy, of being confident enough to take strides in my life, because Maya Angelou held me through. She has, through the pain, insanity and gore, meted out her, made each of us who have read her, a better human and a calmer soul.
Maya Angelou picked me up and forced me to look at myself in the mirror. Not a fleeting glance of my own face, with bed hair, unplucked eyebrows or mascara running down my cheeks; I looked at myself through every imperfection and knew that I would survive. And survive I did. I like how she smiles through the camera and gives you the goosebumps because you would never be able to decode how someone can be that happy and unconventionally beautiful. I love her because she reminds me of my grandmother. My grandmother who chats away with me till 2am and tells me to oil my hair. I still have an Angelou in my life. I hope every one of us does.
She left us with saying “If you have only one smile left, give it to the people you love.” I will, my darling. I always will. Rest in peace and beauty.