I woke to learn that following a short illness, the beloved Toni Morrison has died. The news rocked me, especially as it came in the throes of violence in America. And Toni Morrison, as the recipient of a Nobel Prize in Literature, of a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, has powerfully shared the voice of freedom and non-violence with her artistry of words, and with her honest heart. The world has truly lost a treasure with the passing of Toni Morrison.
One of my first and fondest memories of the late Toni Morrison is when I was instructed to first read The Bluest Eye. It was a Women’s Studies course, and Toni Morrison was a prime player in my education as her words touched on relationships, mental illness, self-esteem, and the darker issues that are generally not aired as more than family secrets, whispers tucked beneath so-called manners and privacy.
She wrote of the deepest pain of losing a child when her son died of pancreatic cancer.
She wrote of her personal experience of being a black woman in America.
She wrote truths with candor, insight and the word-brush of a poet.
Toni Morrison spoke to the disenfranchised, to the marginalized, to the blacks, to the women, to the downtrodden, to the weak, and to those brave enough to listen. Her words were like fists in the face of racism, misogyny, and unfair politics. Yet they were strategically placed blows that lit the passion of many who would have otherwise been victims to their own lives. She encouraged, inspired, and ignited change, globally. She taught us how to love and how to live in our most brilliant light.
“Love is never any better than the lover.”
Toni Morrison’s insight as shared with precision weaving of words and sentiments is perhaps her most unique trait -the characteristic that made her great, and also made her writings a joy to read. As I look back in time while gazing at my bookshelves, I am reminded of the many ways her words not only touched me at a scholarly level, but at how she reached my heart and empowered my spirit with her successes….
“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”
Toni Morrison wrote with a thoughtful and irreverent pen, her words consistently authentic, a straight arrow, boldly on target of what’s wrong and what’s right in the world. She held back no secrets. She held back no animosity nor expletives when allowing for that perfect punch that only perfect words deliver.
I admit here, that I am intimidated to write about such a gifted writer. My words will certainly fail to come near her level of having expertly owned the craft of wordsmiths, yet I am compelled to continue to post, as she was so instrumental in my life, both professionally and personally. Her words are of the tapestry that led me thru those ‘women’s studies’ and that helped me navigate my relationships, including that with myself…. Toni Morrison owns real estate in my heart, as a mentor I’ve never met. She encouraged me to follow my most uninhibited self into the world where I could make a difference in the lives of others. She is my shero.
“Make a difference about something other than yourself.”
If you have a reflection about Toni Morrison, perhaps a thought about how you’ve been impacted by her books or by her role modeling, or maybe a favorite quote by Morrison, please do leave a comment. I believe she can feel the love and admiration across the waves of timelessness.
“At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough.
You don’t need to photograph, paint or even remember it. It is enough.”
Rest in peace and love, Toni Morrison (1931-2019). You are “enough.”