It was on the inside that I cried but you couldn’t see my pain. I hid it from the world. A heavy burden to carry; a seemingly perpetual cross to bear. A distinct type of pain and suffering you carry so long that it becomes a part of you. I tried many times to shake it, to deliver myself from it’s hold, but to no avail. If only you knew what I’ve been through; if only you knew my desolation and sorrow. Happiness seems to run from me, and joy seems to escape me. Many times I am told to leave it behind me; to just move on. I am asked why I can’t break free from it; why I can’t circumvent the mental despondency that can wreak havoc on one’s life. In my silence I look at them; I look through them, and I know that they could never understand the depths and levels; the intricacies, and the complexions of me. The profundity of my spirit; the torment I endure. The breadths of my very soul. They could never understand the strength it takes to endure. To survive. To live.

Many would have fallen by the wayside. Many would have lost all hope, but I am quickened by the thoughts of my grandmother, a woman who went through her own struggles and depression; a woman among women, kind and loving in all her ways. An angel to the poor and downtrodden, and a bright light in a world of darkness. I watched her in her suffering. The days and nights she wept. The prayers, and the solitude. Yet she overcame; yet she remained strong in her long-suffering; yet she held strong in her belief in God and was unshaken and resolved.

Even when her own family turned their backs she held on to her faith and remained steadfast in hope. It was her and I against the world, and even at that tender age, I was a young boy with steely eyes, and a fervor within me that I carry to this day. I may be down, but never out. On the right there might be fire, and on the left deep waters but I am never unnerved. My pain pushes me through. It forces me to either transcend or wither and die, but I am a conqueror, and I will not see myself fall. I refuse to concede; I refuse to lose.

I consider the earth and all the beauty within. The promise of tomorrow. The life within me. The lessons and life experiences that I’ve endured. My mother; my grandmother; the people in my life that were kind to me, and the people who left footprints on my heart. Those beloved ones. The ones I will never forget. The ones that loved me; the ones that I will always love. They lift me up and they give me strength. I rest in their memory; I take refuge in love and peace, strength and honor, understanding and forgiveness. I overcome. I transcend.

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