|RaSeph, KingMan and Sia circa 2005|
Today my husband would have been 51 years old. He loved to celebrate his birthday in grand fashion. It's no wonder I awoke at 3:30 a.m. this morning, 4 hours earlier than my usual wake up time. This was his favorite time of the morning. I took this as a gentle nudge from Eric to write. This is dedicated to you on behalf of RaSeph and SiaLi Wright. These two young people are a part of documentary film-making class at Meridian Hill Pictures. Each semester the students choose a topic and through video they get to tell a story about a societal issue that has impacted them. They chose the topic of losing one's father. When my children loss their father it made their friends feel vulnerable. I'm sure Ra and Sia looked at their father differently, held him tighter, and wondered what their life would be like without him. Their decision to explore the lost of a father touched me deeply. In the Path of My Father is the documentary they produced, along with other students and educators.
When they first began filming, I was thinking like an educator. Homeschooled children have the freedom to dive deeply into their passions and I wanted to support that. I had no idea of the journey ahead and the thoughts and feelings that would resurface. Our family was a little more than two years into the grieving process, so digging deep wasn't always easy.
Getting LionHeart to talk was especially difficult. Often his responses were one word answers. RaSeph and Ayinde are like brothers, which I am sure played a big part in getting LionHeart to open up. I'm not sure LionHeart realizes how deeply moving it is to have a friend who not only helps you make Minecraft videos, but also helps you heal from the loss of your father.
I thought it would be easy for me. I enjoyed the opportunity to honor my husband's memory and to tell our story. But once the cameras were gone, the sadness and tears would return. What kept me going was gratitude. I focused on being grateful that we were creating a new memory, one that would showcase how a community truly stepped in during a time of great loss.
During the September 22nd premiere at the Sitar Arts Center, someone in the audience talked about how important it is to take pictures and videos because you never know how your story is going to end. When I look at these two and think back to the day in the park those words have such profound meaning. Throughout the documentary, my husband's voice narrates, thanks in part to video footage that he took of himself. Always on the cutting edge, my husband was doing 'selfies' before it became popular.
In the Path of My Father is not just about loss. It's also a celebration of community. Their words and actions have not been empty. The support that we received and continue to receive is a powerful testimony to me, but especially the children. Yet, I worry about KingMan because he always been such an old soul and he keeps his feelings hidden. He's mature beyond his years, but he was inseparable from his father and now that he is gone I know is must be scary for him. However, judging from that proud mama smile in the photo above, the faith is not gone. My husband's famous words in the midst of hard times and strife were, "we gonna be alright!"
I have this warrior Mama Ray Wright (and Baba too!) to thank for giving birth to and raising compassionate, thoughtful and creative artists who want to make a difference in their world.
A second showing of In the Path of My Father will take place on Tuesday, October 13 at 7:00 pm at the Reel Independent Film Extravaganza Angelika Pop Up Union Market. For details click here.
This moment is time is something our family will treasure for a lifetime. Kudos to the Sitar family, Merdian Hill film students, and a special shout out to RaSeph and SiaLi, also known as Sia Sunshine on her YouTube channel.
To see a trailer of In the Path of My Father, click here.