After “Swerve” by Brenda Miller
I’m sorry we’ve never met. We could have met when I married your son 23 years ago. I wonder if you even knew he was getting married? You live in a small East Coast suburb where news of weddings travels fast. Surely one of your gossipy friends heard the happy news? If you did learn about the wedding, I imagine you became enraged. Your dislike of my husband’s choice in women began long before he met me, so I don’t blame myself for his estrangement from you. He told me how you cut him off financially when he was at Harvard Law School because he was dating a woman who was mixed-race. In a letter to him, you called his former girlfriend–who you had met once–the N-word. I’m sorry you will never meet me, a woman with a Black mother and a white father. I’m sorry you’ve never met your two grandchildren. The oldest, a girl, attends Northwestern University! The youngest, a boy, will start at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall. He has my brown skin and his dad’s blue eyes. I’m sorry I’m so afraid of your wrath that our will contained a section that said you were never to have custody of our minor children should anything happen to us. Of course, that probably wasn’t necessary. Looking back, I can’t imagine you would have tried to get custody of mixed-race grandkids you’d never met. I’m sorry that your son and I had to explain to our kids why they will never meet his parents. “They’re racist,” your son told them when they were old enough to understand what that meant, around age 9 and 12. I’m sorry you hide behind your big house in an affluent neighborhood, your involvement in the temple and your other two kids who married people you chose. I wonder if you’re aware that every few years, we visit my husband’s best friend in your hometown. One time we drove by your house to show our kids where their dad grew up and I got so nervous I told him to speed up in case you were home and I think we were going 55 MPH on your residential street so your house is a blur in my memory. I’m sorry you will never accept that I married your son, the best husband and father I know.
Christina Simon spent three years as the senior nonfiction editor and the “Letter to L.A.” editor for Angels Flight Literary West, an online literary publication and curator of author salons at The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles. Her essays are forthcoming in Slag Glass City and have been published in Salon, The Offing, Columbia Journal (winner of the 2020 Black History Month Contest for Nonfiction), Another Chicago Magazine, The Citron Review, PANK Magazine’s Heath and Healing Folio, Proximity’s blog, True, and Barren Magazine. Christina received her B.A. from U.C. Berkeley and her M.A. from UCLA. Christina lives in Los Angeles with her husband, her teenage son and their rescue pit bull. She misses her daughter who is away at college. www.csimonla.com