Image provided by Dhayana Alejandrina
It was June 26th, the day before Mami’s birthday. I had traveled from Georgia to my second home, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to celebrate another year of life with her.
That morning, Mami had to work, and I woke up to the sound of the birds chatting in the living room; ever since we moved to the United States in 2009, my stepdad had a cage with eight to ten colorful parakeet birds. Every time someone got close to the cage, they would grow silent, then continue their chatter as soon as they felt you were far enough. I always admired their unique feather colors as they reminded me of how much of an artist Mother Nature is.
As I made my way to the kitchen to make some Café Bustelo, I saw that Mami had left me a note on top of a covered bowl. It said, “I love you; eat these sweet plantains with boiled eggs. I also made you hot chocolate.”
It didn’t matter how often I told Mami not to worry about making breakfast before work; she still made me something to eat. This always reminded me of Mamá Nancy, Mami’s mom, abuela—one of the sweetest human beings I have ever met on this Earth—because back in the Dominican Republic, as soon as I came into her house to spend the afternoons, she would say, “Mi niña, I made some Arroz con Pollo, and I have guineos if you want some too.”
If I ever said no, she would patiently describe how important it is that I eat because my body still had a lot of growing to do. She would claim, “At least eat two or three bites, and I’ll save the rest for you to carry back home.” It was hard to resist her: she was shorter than me (I am 5’5”), and in my eyes, she looked fragile like a new tree branch that could easily break from a wind’s kiss; yet her voice, her aura, her heart, her confidence, carried years of wisdom, courage, experiences, and life—it made a presence for itself.
After breakfast, I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon reading, writing, and exercising. When Mami got home from work, the sky looked like two emotions intertwining—joy and sadness. I greeted her, “Sion Mami,” and she responded, “Dios te bendiga mi negra.”
When the weight on her shoulders became lighter from the relief of being home after a long day at work, I asked Mami if she wanted to walk with me. As soon as I asked, the emotions in the sky had become one, and rain started to pour; I thought she wouldn’t want to go out in that kind of weather, but instead, she said:
“I do feel like going outside and walking in the rain.”
Then I said, “Let’s go!”
She smiled—I could see the excitement rising from her toes and traveling up to her mouth as she conjured the words to say next—and replied, “For real?”
I said, “Absolutely, let’s go.” At that moment, I saw my mom’s inner child as genuine happiness took over her gentle spirit.
Once we changed into baggy shirts, leggings, and chancletas, we walked down the stairs and opened the building door to start our rainy walk. Throughout the entire walk, we talked about life, joked about the people staring at us, laughed, jumped into giant puddles of water, and, most importantly, we bonded with each other and Nature—freely, wholeheartedly, and intentionally.
image provided by Dhayana Alejandrina
Dhayana is a Dominican poet, storyteller, essayist, and writing mentor from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Her literary work scours inner growth, devotion, culture, and spiritual healing. The Dominican Writers Association, Al Día Newspaper, the Kindness Book by UNESCO MGIEP, Penguin India Publishing, and many others have published her. In 2021, Dhayana published her first collection of variant prose and poetry, Agridulce, highlighting the importance of acknowledging our emotions and experiences as a path to self-awareness and discovery.