Writings

Wandering, Withering, Widowing Words

There was a time when I believed in a god.

When I was a child I remember imagining a big man sitting in the clouds watching over all the humans. If things went right, we gave thanks to that man. If things went wrong, we said it was part of his plan.

I don’t remember when that visual entered my mind but I assume it had something to do with the media. I continued to believe there was a god, a male god, who just lived in the sky somewhere or whose presence was just part of the wind. I remember hearing words like, “why did god do this? how did he let this happen? why are people in the world starving yet others over eating? why is there poverty and war, etc etc etc?!”

I guess at some point I decided that human beings just needed someone or something to blame because they have no other answers for their questions. They were desperate.
I didn’t want to be desperate. I watched my mother pray every morning, before the sun was even up, my grandmother, my aunts. Praying, praying, praying. But their pain never went away. There was no one to take it away.

After I began questioning religion and why god had to be male and why we always blamed him for our suffering, I started to feel this connection to some sort of power in the universe. I started praying to the universe, to the sky, the stars, the galaxies. And at home, I continue to keep my paintings and portraits up of Guru Nanak, because He was an actual human being at one point who walked on this earth, and since childhood I felt a strong pull towards Him. Like He has always been a guardian in my life.

I’ve seen a lot of death. And I’m only 34 years old. When I was a small child, I knew about death because my mom often spoke about losing her mother at a young age and my father often spoke about losing his father at a young age. It was never too confusing to me, I guess I felt I just got it. They died.

When I was 19, I watched my 18 year old friend’s body be lowered into a grave. I saw the bodies of the parents my close friends lost. A few years ago I watched my mom’s only brother take his last breaths. He died right in front of us.

I always accepted it. And I listened when others said, “it was god’s will. It was in his plan. God works in mysterious ways. This is what god chose.” etc. etc. etc. etc.

I can’t anymore.

Three Mondays ago, I woke up feeling great. I texted Andrew, “good morning, how are you feeling?”

Still haven’t gotten his response.

My message was sent at 9:50am. He died 40 minutes later.

When I spoke to him the day before over the phone, I didn’t know it would be our last phone conversation.

People have been sending so many messages. So many phone calls. Flowers. Sending so much love. It’s been a blur. Like one really long day that just wouldn’t end.

I started to hear those words again, “god chose this.”

I keep quiet. Because that’s what I do. My anger, my pain, it brews in my body until my skin and bones can no longer contain it and it comes out of my fingers and onto this page.

Andrew was my co-worker, and then boyfriend, fiancé, husband, father of my children. We separated but never divorced. There were days I hated him and days I truly believed I could not live without him. That my heart would literally break without his love. During an argument one night in our condo, I actually threw a very heavy-framed wedding photo of us at him (I missed, fyi).

He was the first one to say, “I love you” when we were dating. He said it when he was leaving my apartment: got into his 350Z, put the window down and said, “you don’t have to say anything back, but – I love you.” And I just stared at him, like a moron.

Two days after he died was his 37th birthday.

37.

Not 73. He wasn’t old and grey and wrinkled. He was young and beautiful.
And he left behind two little humans who need him.

But god chose this. Right?

God chose this young father of two to just die one day. God chose for two sweet little girls to grow up without their daddy. God chose for their hearts to shatter.

Within the last 11 years, I’ve often thought about Andrew as a little boy — big radiant smile, and wished that we had known each other then and grown up together.

I didn’t get to grow up with him. Or grow old with him. My time with him was short. Only 11 years when I thought we had a lifetime. But I do get to see his little girls grow up.

He deserved to see that too. He deserved to see Annabella get as tall as him, one day towering over me and Talia. He deserved to see Talia become a teacher or a fashion designer. He deserved to walk them down the aisle and get through school and teach them how to drive.

He deserved to get old. I really wanted to see his thick head of hair turn into that distinguished salt and pepper.

But god chose this. No one knows why though. No one has that answer. But hey – we can blame a male-gendered entity up there in the clouds for taking my daughters’ daddy away.

Because we can’t fathom it. We cannot understand why one day he was right here, heart beating, and the next day – gone.

And now just ashes.

He isn’t here to tell the girls, “mommy is the captain of our ship.”

All I can feel in this moment is that our ship is sinking. And no spiritual entity, gendered or not, can stop it.
People think I’m strong. But it’s a lie. I’m in pieces. Broken and incomplete.

Was this all part of god’s plan?

Birth Stories

Annabella Christina

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Annabella’s due date was March 3, 2012. Since it was clear she was not coming out to meet us on that day, my husband and I went to a first birthday party for the son of one of our co-workers. The only thing I could fit into was a purple maternity dress.

The physical weight of the baby on my body was almost unbearable. The nesting period was over, and I really just wanted her out of me. I was becoming more and more irritable with everyone around me, and eventually stopped responding to, “OMG you’re ready to pop!” (It just about took all the energy I had to not pop them in the nose).

Finally, my OBGYN decided it was time to be induced. On the evening of Saturday March 10th, my husband and I went to the hospital to get the ball rolling. Later that night, when we were in bed, the contractions started up. I knew it was the real deal and not just Braxton Hicks, because they didn’t stop. I took a look at the crib one last time before leaving for the hospital, my heart full of hope, that the next time I’d be looking at my baby in there.

Since daddy to-be was still half asleep/liquored up, my father in-law drove us to the hospital. He comforted me while I focused on breathing, and told his son to get me into a wheelchair and up to the maternity ward, while he parked the car.

Once we arrived at Labour/Delivery, I was greeted by a nurse who looked at me and spat, “why are you in a wheelchair?” Now, there are several creative ways I could have answered her, like, “maybe because I’m in labour, you miserable piece of crap!” However, as always, I bit my tongue and stood up out of the wheelchair, and followed her into one of the patient rooms, where I was ordered to change into a gown and walk the halls.

I was scared shitless, trying to remember all of the stages of labour from the prenatal class we took, and the different ways to breathe and bounce and stretch and be massaged during those excruciating squeezes in the middle of my body. It would have been bit more helpful and calming of an experience if the nurses weren’t so bloody rude. (Etobicoke General Hospital y’all).

When my water finally broke during the hall-walking, I was told to lay on the bed while they checked the baby and my vitals. Things were moving slowly but surely, and so far everything was fine.

I called my cousin and asked her to bring my grandmother to the hospital (my mom was in India at the time) to help keep me calm, since my husband looked pretty helpless. Soon, in the room with me were; 1) nurses, 2) husband, 3) father in-law, 4) grandmother, 5) cousin. After some time, they were eating pizza right in front of me, and I wondered where the hell my cup of ice was. Then there was a Tim Horton’s run, and I was ready to kick someone in the face.

After about 14 hours, crying from the severeness of the contractions, my husband said, “get the epidural, come on; you don’t have to prove anything to anyone.” So, I listened. The contractions were so sharp, slicing and squeezing and knocking the wind out of me, I knew it was time for the giant needle in my spine.

I was asked to sit up in the bed, and “curl my back like a cat, nice and round.” No joke, this is what I was told to do, in the middle of my contractions, while asking myself if I really wanted to be stabbed in the back. I tried my very best to “curl” my back for them, and in the needle went. Directly into my spine. I can still feel the fluid rushing in and spreading across my back. (My spine was sore for a very long time after having the baby).

Shortly after, I was in a state of bliss. Laying down in the bed, not feeling a thing. The nurses were the ones to tell me when I was having a contraction. More visitors came and went; mother in-law, cousins, sister, aunt. For a time it was a bit of a blur. At this point, I had no idea that I had blown up into a water balloon; my face, arms, legs, everything was HUGE. Everyone there was kind enough to not mention it, I only realized when I saw the photos afterward. For most of my life, I’ve been fairly petite, even throughout the pregnancy, so it was hilarious to see myself all puffed up.

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It had been a full 24 hours, and I had only dilated 2 centimeters. I was told my baby’s heart rate was going down because she was heading down the magical canal, but had no way of getting out that way. I was devastated. Beyond devastated. When the doctor asked me to sign the paper titled “Cesarean Section”, my dreams of pushing my baby out and placed on my chest, just like in the movies, were shattered. I wanted desperately to have a natural birth. I felt that I had failed; my first job as a mother, I couldn’t even do. My body had failed me. I cried and cried, but I signed the form.

A nurse came in and rubbed off my nail polish, took my wedding/engagement rings, my karas (Sikh bracelets) and off we went to the Operating Room. I was given anesthesia and the doctor pinched me a few times here and there to make sure I was numb. I could see my husband dressed in scrubs in my peripheral. The curtain was up and the cutting had commenced. I tried to remember again, from our prenatal classes, how many layers they were cutting through. I looked up at the ceiling and could see a blurry reflection of the operation. All I remember seeing is a fuck-ton of blood so I decided not to look up. I looked to my sides; both arms were tied down. It was a horrible feeling. They were taking my baby out of me, and I was just strapped down, helpless, with nothing to do but wait.

Felt like forever, before I heard the crying.

“It’s a girl!” The doctor told us, and I smiled. Yes. I knew it. I could feel it throughout the pregnancy that there was a little girl in there, but we didn’t end up confirming the gender. I didn’t want to know. There are very few genuine surprises in life, and this was one of them. I remember one of my co-workers once condescendingly telling me that when she found out the gender of her baby, her excitement grew ten-fold and she was able to connect with her. I respectfully disagreed. I didn’t care to know my child’s sex. All I cared about was that he or she was healthy. I also stayed away from the pinks verses blue baby clothes thing. I kept all our colours neutral; lots of greens and yellows and whites. Anyway. We had a girl.

When I saw her for the first time, I wanted to dance and jump and scream, but I could barely even turn my head to look at her. My husband held her close to my face so I could kiss her.

We were taken to a private room, once I was all stitched up, and once I was able to sit up in the bed, they brought my newborn baby to me.

“Are you bottle feeding or breastfeeding?” one of the nurses asked.

“Breastfeeding,” I answered.

“Good,” she said. And my baby was finally placed on my chest. She latched on to me right away and stayed there for about twenty minutes. It was exhilarating. I didn’t even know if I was doing it right. The milk didn’t actually come in for another two days (I woke up to a completely soaked shirt, and deformed breasts), so for now she was only getting colostrum.

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Unfortunately, she lost almost 10% of her baby weight, so I was forced to tape down an extremely thin tube to my chest, across my breast, and the other end was inside a ready-to-feed bottle of formula. This way, the baby would be breast feeding and getting formula at the same time. It was incredibly stressful. My back and neck tensed up as I held her to my breast, my eye glasses kept sliding down my nose, and the nursing pillow was sitting directly on my c-section incision.

We were in the hospital from Saturday night until Thursday. With the help of a lactation specialist, and when my milk finally did come in, I was able to get my baby back to her birth weight. It was an amazing accomplishment for me. (She was 7 pounds at birth). I had to keep a breastfeeding journal recording the times I fed her and the duration, etc. until baby and I developed a full routine. It was a lot of work. But so worth it. Seeing her drink my milk was so, so rewarding and I felt so fortunate to be able to breastfeed. I didn’t have anything against formula, but since the birth didn’t go as planned, I wanted at least my plan to breastfeed to be a success. And it was.

The day we brought Annabella home, the sun was shining so bright; it felt like a warm Spring day. It didn’t feel like March at all. The water-weight was out of me, but my heart was full of love and pride, my breasts were filled with milk, and tears spilled over my cheeks. I was full. I was complete.

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Short Stories

Heartbreakingly Beautiful

She checked the time again and glanced out the window at her driveway. The leafless trees were dusted with snow and the street was as lifeless as a winter postcard. Her fluffy orange feline perched up in her lap with slight concern but then decided she wasn’t that interested. They both sighed in synchrony.

It was almost time to pick up the children from school and she was never late. Placing the cat down in her pile of blankets, she sighed again unable to control her disappointment. Had she said something wrong? Maybe she shouldn’t have gotten him a gift. She checked to see that it was still securely snug under the tree (as if it could have grown feet and left) and then made her way out the door.

***

“Mama, look at the ornament I made!” her daughter said, lifting the craft up to her face.

“Its lovely, dear. Very sparkly indeed,” she said with as much enthusiasm as she could muster, wiping the glitter from her leggings.

Her son was already opening the candy cane he received from his teacher, “can I have this now, mom? Thanks!” and popped it into his mouth.

She closed the blinds on the front windows just as her mother pulled up the driveway and her heart gave a small flutter.

“Grandma’s here!” the children sang as they ran to open the door. The cat fled upstairs. Christmas suddenly felt resurrected.

***

They had kissed on this very couch, she thought, as she watched her little ones with her mother; talking and tickling and laughing. They had binge-watched shows and ate food and drank wine here. Even the cat had cuddled with him.

“Why is your mommy so quiet today?” she heard her mother say, breaking her reverie. They were all looking at her now, her mother’s eyebrows raised.

“Don’t know, grandma, she’s being weird!” the children concluded.

“Who wants hot chocolate?” she asked, getting up from the couch without waiting for an answer.

As she added marshmallows to the mugs and a sprinkling of peppermint shavings, she thought about the last time she had seen him. How tightly they embraced one another, the tender kisses, the exchange of hopes to see each other again soon. She remembered their hike through a forest at the end of the summer, how he carried her on his back and held her hand as she climbed over rocks. And when they finally made it to the waterfall, they just sat together taking in all its beauty. She thought about his eyes. How they changed from a cool sky blue to a warm hazel green.

“Bringing those hot chocolates?” said a voice from behind her.

Startled, she spilled some of the sweet drink on the counter and said, “just cooling them off a bit, mum. Don’t want the kids burning their tongues!”

“Right, here, let me,” her mother said, taking the mugs, “maybe you and I should have some tea and cookies, hmm?”

There was nothing she could hide from her mother. She knew. She always knew. And having tea and cookies meant talking about it. But she didn’t want to talk about this. She had a Christmas to execute. There was no time to dwell about the possibility of another holiday alone. Without a partner. A companion. A friend. A love. The children needed her. And she would not fail them.

***

The letter from Santa had been printed and perfectly placed next to the plate of cookie crumbs and empty milk glass. The gifts were all placed around the tree. Everyone was asleep. Except for her. She sat in her reading chair by the fireplace, flipping through the pages of a book.

“While pretty flowers are instantly plucked, few people pay attention to plants with thorns and prickles. But the truth is, great medicines are often made from these.”

She stared at the words and recalled when they had exchanged novels by Elif Shafak; she had given him The Bastard of Istanbul and he gave her his favourite book, The Forty Rules of Love. The one she now held in her hands.

He too, was a single parent, which she assumed was the perfect fit for the both of them. She had fantasized about their children playing together, becoming great friends. One big family.

But then, the doubts resurfaced, the ones she had tried to suppress. This was not the first time he had left her in the dark. On Thanksgiving she had posted on her social media about colonization and violence towards Indigenous communities. He replied immediately stating that he “hates guilt culture.” She didn’t hear from him again until four weeks later. And for four weeks she told herself it was for the best.

The memories of the way he looked at her, his kisses, his morning text messages are what kept her from hating him. And what made her chase him even after he cut her off.

Maybe it was because she made him laugh. Or because they both shared an interest in mental health. Because they both liked reading. Maybe it was because he told her she was heartbreakingly beautiful. Being intimate with someone didn’t just mean physically. It was being vulnerable and raw with emotion.

She closed her eyes trying to shut out the thoughts coming in.

Maybe she was just so broken that she would accept attention from anyone, even if it was abusive. That she would even buy them a Christmas gift. A perfectly wrapped Elif Shafak book titled, Honor, tied with gold ribbon and a shiny bow on top.

She opened her eyes again and looked down at the book in her lap, still open to the same page:

“As long as I knew myself, I would be alright.”

Setting the book aside, she leapt from her chair toward the tree. Moving the piles of gifts in front, she got down on all fours and reached back to find the one sitting on its own. She carefully removed the tag and placed the gift back.

***

The cat purred in her new bed as the children tried on their new winter jackets. The floor was covered in shredded wrapping paper, toys, books and clothes.

Her mother looked on, smiling at her grandchildren, her face aglow, bringing out a light radiating from within her.

“Mum. This one is for you,” she said, handing her mother the last gift under the tree.

“A new book! Wow!” her mother said after opening it. “Thank you.”

With her mind a little less foggy, her vision clearer, her heart fuller, she replied, “no, mum. Thank you.”

She looked out the window, the snow glittering under the sun, and decided that she hadn’t done or said anything wrong. She was a good person who met the wrong guy. Maybe she was a little broken. But that’s what made her beautiful.

Writings

Date Like a Mother

As DJ Khalid says, “and another one!”

I waited a full year before diving into the shark pool again. You know, the swiping and the messaging and the meeting. Then there’s the lying and the ghosting and the blocking.

Exhilarating stuff.

Once, this guy showed up high off his ass, wearing sunglasses indoors, jeans sliding down his non-existent waist. Inside of the RH Courtyard Cafe, he thought it’d be cool to take out his vape pen/stick/thing and start smoking around some very expensive furniture. He took out his phone to show me photos of his puppy and ended up showing me naked ones of his ex-girlfriend.

Ahh, the wonderful world of dating.

My marriage ended five years ago and because I’ve been a serial relationship-ist since the age of fifteen, I did not know how to exist as a single woman in her thirties, let alone as a single mother, who is also ostracized by the Indian/Punjabi/Sikh community.

Enter: terrifying dating apps.

No, dating is not what it once used to be.

I experienced love at first sight at fifteen, sitting on the couch at an Indian Aunty’s house, drinking tea with her and my mom, when her fifteen year old son walked in and we locked eyes. Of course, everyone labeled it “puppy love”, but we knew the authenticity of our feelings. And we assumed we would just be together for the rest of eternity.

Three years later I was accepted to a university four hours away from home. He asked me to stay. I didn’t. He married someone else.

Love happened to me two more times since; once with the boyfriend I had in university (whom I thought I would marry and I didn’t) and then with the man that I did end up marrying.

So, yes. Single. Thirties. Two Kids.

There was a small window that opened in which I saw myself finally settling down with someone. I even told my ex-husband about him. But it turned out he was cheating on me with one of my best friends who was cheating with him on her husband. Oh, and he “borrowed” thousands of dollars from me.

(Yes, you can definitely expect a novel about that one).

After my younger sister got married, I thought, “what the hell. It’s been a year. I’ve healed. This time will be better”, whilst love swirled in the air around me.

Nope. Nooooppeee.

Until….

I met Mr. Chivalrous himself: Prince Fucking Charming.

He held doors open for me. He looked into my eyes when I spoke. He complimented my accomplishments as a person, a woman, a mother, a writer. He told me how inspired he was by the many adversaries I’d overcome. He drove hundreds of kilometers just to give me a care package when I was sick (complete with Buckley’s, Thai soups and curries, a family-sized Nutella jar, chocolate, macaroons, cookies, a pink Orchid plant, etc). He paid for all our dinners and drinks because he thought it ungentlemanly of him not to. He always made the drive to make it easy on me. Brought a bottle of red wine with him. He laughed at all my jokes. We played a relationship card game called “Husbands and Wives.” He brought me roses, a balloon and a card on my birthday, because when he’d asked weeks earlier what an ideal birthday gift was, I said, “roses, balloons, and a birthday card.” He even made notes about what I need on my period! Finally, he asked me to be exclusive with him, wanting to see me more, wanting to know everything about me, wanting to get serious. I said yes. A week later he didn’t answer my phone call when he was supposed to meet with me. He said he was heading to Vancouver for work to deal with some issues.

You know. Work issues. It happens, right?

But, alas, Charming was not in Vancouver. He was in Toronto.

When I saw his Instagram story pop up on my dog’s IG and not on mine (I knew it was a good idea to have social media for pets) I texted him and … he blocked me.

And that, my friends, was that.

Swiping, messaging, meeting.
Lying, ghosting, blocking.
Dating.

Mind. Blown.

My news feeds are filled with couples posting their perfect photos and I don’t feel envy at what they share because there is no such thing as a perfect marriage or family. But I do, however, envy their unknowing of the vicious, bloody hunger games we singles call “the dating life.” They will always remember dating as something completely different. A courtship during high school. Meeting at a party. Office romance.

Not this.

My mother tells me not to question why this happened to me, but to ask myself, “what did I need to learn from this experience?” She also tells me I am worthy, I am kind and beautiful and wonderful. A good person who will one day be swept off her feet.

As much as I yearn for my daughters to see me being loved and respected by a partner, I fear that it will remain a dream. They are gonna grow up, move on with their lives and call each other every weekend to arrange who will be checking up on mom and all her random dogs.

Because there are a lot of cowards out there who don’t have the slightest clue how to date like a mother.

Anyone want a pink orchid?

Writings

Gratitude Journal

Why is it that when I sleep soundly, they are restless, yet when they sleep soundly, I’m wide awake?

I’m listening to my daughters’ light snores and even breathing, feeling at peace that they are next to each other, next to me. Several nights I tuck them into their own beds in their own bedroom, only to find them next to me in the middle of the night. But on other nights, like tonight, I do not fight their protests to sleeping in their own beds.

They don’t know this yet, but I need them more than they need me. Even when I do get a night when they let me sleep alone, I curl up to the same side of the bed, make myself small, and miss their small warm bodies sprawled next to me in deep slumber.

Just over two months ago, life was quite different. Parts of it, anyway. There were schedules and routines, timelines and curfews. Planned meals, packed lunches, pre-picked outfits. I only saw my daughters in the mornings for about an hour, and then in the evenings. On weekends there would be a hundred other things scheduled.

Now, we spend every moment together. Mornings, afternoons, evenings, nights, weekends, weekdays, everyday. Weekdays and weekends really have no border between them anymore. Its all the same. Some weeks have been delicious. So many cuddles, laughs, games, fun. Movies and baking and eating and dancing. Planting and walking and colouring. Other weeks have been torture. Sibling rivalry, yelling, crying, stomping, slamming. Needing space, solidarity, sanity.

Meanwhile, the world we’ve shut ourselves out of seems to have fallen into shambles. Sickness and death and panic and disorder. More death. Fear.

We’ve finally started going out again, other than just walking down our street. Driving the car again, although the brakes make sounds now, complaining to me that I waited too long to put them to use again. We wear masks, take shallow breaths and quick steps.

One thing has been constant, though. Our own form of medicine, comfort, cure. Which is our hugs and kisses. So many hugs. So many kisses. Maybe more so than before. Despite what has happened moments before, or what is happening outside our home, we tell each other, “I love you”, we kiss each other. We hug each other, tightly. Sometimes we don’t let go for a long time.

Writings

Not Hiring Single Moms

– “Upper management doesn’t care if you’re a single mother. What they care about is if you’re here, meeting business needs.”

– “I’m not telling this to put you down but you do have the highest number of absences in this office.”

– “Can’t you find a teenager in the neighborhood to watch your kids?”

– “You’ve already used your personal days to tend to your kids. Moving forward, you’ll need to use your vacation days.”

– “Why don’t you go live closer to your parents?”

– “You’ll need to make up the hours you missed when you left the office for your kids.”

– “It doesn’t matter that everyone else here is fresh out of school with no parenting responsibilities, I’m sure they have other responsibilities.”

– “No, we are not able to change your shift schedule.”

Photo courtesy of Tintalee Photography


The popular term ‘working mom’ is a redundant one. Being a mother is a job on it’s own. Annabella asked me about 15 mins ago, “is it hard being a mom?” It is. Of course it is. Being a mom to these two girls though? It’s a dream. Really, it is. I get them to myself for three weeks? Dream.

The quotes above were said to me directly, verbatim, during the times I struggled to be 100% present in the corporate world and 100% present for my children. What I learned was: it isn’t possible.

I often spent my rides on the TTC after having these conversations, sobbing, huddled into myself, wondering if I’d ever stop feeling like a failure. Until one morning I literally could not get out of bed because of the heaviness. I knew if I continued on like this, killing myself to get to an environment surrounded by negativity and uncompassionate behavior, that the light inside of me would burn out.

I chose motherhood. By choosing motherhood it meant also choosing myself. If I am mentally and emotionally unavailable for my children, being there physically is meaningless.

I had to evaluate myself, inside out, head to toe and decide to heal so my daughters can look at me without evaluation and say, “We love you mama. You’re the best.”

Tantrums, tears and tattle tales are rough, however feeling worthless is worse.

Writings

Beautiful Fear

July 11, 2018

Another writer from my workshop group told me she hated public speaking but promised her husband she would face her fear. She said, “you have to do it, Taneet!” And so we both wrote our names on the list.

Photo courtesy of Humber College (Lakeshore Campus)

So here I was, hair clinging to my forehead and neck with perspiration, heart pounding, pulse racing, hands shaking. I read a poem I had written at 3am several years prior.

And the words danced out of my mouth delicately, pirouetting en detours, completing a grand jeté before the timer rang. I kept my head down as I absorbed the applause, into my pores, into my veins, shocked that I shared dark words from my heart with award winning/critically acclaimed authors, my living inspirations.

Regardless of how shit scared I was, my words had a voice of their own that did not falter or tremble the way my fingers did. They were not just destined to be spoken. They were determined.