Written by my husband, Duwayne.
I am somebody, today. Point of fact, I have always been somebody. Something so self-evident from the mouth of an adult may sound silly and puerile, but sadly, I have spent the better part of the last thirty years forgetting that or denying it. Philosophers say, “I think, therefore I am.” I say, “I am because I was born” – born perhaps under a ‘blighted star’, but born nevertheless. Plans were afoot to dispose of me even before leaving the womb, but they never materialized. I defeated the odds stacked against me to get here. I am somebody, because on August 19th, 1980, I cheated death.
I am somebody, today. I don’t become somebody the moment I discover life’s deep meaning; still less, when I discover the deep meaning of my own existence. I didn’t suddenly become somebody when I left college and graduate school with highest honors, and I won’t become somebody should I do the same after law school. Having as many degrees as there are on a thermometer won’t make me somebody. Being a respected trial lawyer or a renowned jurist in federal court won’t turn me into somebody years from now. I am already somebody. And seeing other people live the dreams I dreamt for myself but have yet to attain does not make me nobody needlessly taking up space in the world. In its current, unripened state my existence matters, even if only to me.
I am somebody, today. Diagnosed with end stage colon cancer does not make it less so. Watching my hands darken, my fingers and toes numb, my tongue line with sores, and my body lose hair because of the adverse effects of toxic, chemical treatments may injure my sense of dignity but not my sense of being. Though the abdominal muscles I spent years in grad school trying to chisel have been permanently defaced by the lacerations of surgery, and my chest and back appear unsightly because of multiple, black blotches, I am still somebody. In the face of crippling disease, I remain somebody worthy of inhaling the same air as everyone else. No amount sickness and scarring can alter that fact.
I am somebody, today. That is an inalienable right of being that cannot be surrendered, given back or taken away. Falling on hard times to the point of being desperately reliant on others for food and shelter does not erase that right. Enduring the present discomfort of living in the apartment of the woman nature calls my mother (though nurture might beg to differ) – feeling one argument away from homeless – does not absolve it. Nor does being unemployed and unable to provide the basic amenities a husband should afford his wife. Despite my innumerable failures and shortcomings, I am somebody. I won’t magically become somebody when fortune’s wheel begins spinning in my favor. In happiness or in hardship, in triumph or in triage, I am somebody. Despite the season or the circumstance, when I look into a mirror, somebody looks back at me.
I am somebody, today. And I will be somebody tomorrow, even when my earthly days expire and my tangible being passes into the expanse of oblivion. Point of fact, I have always been and will always be somebody, and in that glorious truth I rejoice!