Valya Dudycz Lupescu

Writer, fueled by coffee

3 March, 2017
by Valya
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What if the story of America is one long labor?

This is one of the most beautiful and powerful prayers from Sikh-American civil rights advocate and filmmaker Valarie Kaur.

“And so the mother in me asks, what if? What if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb? What if our America is not dead, but a country that is waiting to be born? What if the story of America is one long labor? What if all of our grandfathers and grandmothers are standing behind us now—those who survived occupation and genocide, slavery and Jim Crow, detentions and political assault—what if they are whispering in our ear today, tonight “you are brave”? What if this is our nation’s great transition?

“What does the midwife tell us to do? Breathe. And then? push. Because if we don’t push we will die. If we don’t push, our nation will die. Tonight we will breathe. Tomorrow we will labor in love. Through love. And your revolutionary love is the magic we will show our children.”

  

7 February, 2017
by Valya
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Clothes and Grief

Two years ago yesterday, Donald Lupescu passed away and our lives have a big Grandpa-Don-shaped hole in them. It’s an impossibly large hole, as is the case with grief. When the kids came home after school, we spent some time remembering the many things we love and miss about Grandpa. We cherish those memories, and we hold onto tangible things that remind us: On my counter is a sugar bowl from Don and Eleanor’s kitchen, and I think of Don each time I use it. Mark has some shirts and ties from Don; and as Liam waits to grow into his grandfather’s patterned and tropical shirts, he keeps an eye out for “Grandpa Don”-style shirts that are *his* size in the store.

There’s something special about clothes and grief. Clothes hold more than just the memory of our beloveds who wore them–it’s more like what my friend Katelan calls time travel. When we touch those clothes, we touch the past, we flash back, we get an echo. We hold on.

It was incredibly timely to read author Ekaterina Sedia’s essay, “A Story of Grief and Clothes.” Ekaterina lost her father, her sister, her aunt, and her mother in the span of two years. Because her family still lived in Moscow, she spent those two years crossing the Atlantic again and again to say goodbye. This is her beautiful, sad remembrance:

“I dress in black as mourners do, with dark charcoal and navy. I understand now: it requires no matching and no planning, it is simple clothes that require no thought and look okay. They do not show dirt, which is nice when laundry is too much to face when you barely holding it together for necessities. Mourning clothes are the emblem of simplification for survival, life-saving routines that conserve the resources. I exercise and go for walks and do crossword puzzles and read fashion blogs because they are routines, protection, they are not letting me overheat from too much processing.”

What is remembered lives.

9 November, 2016
by Valya
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Where Do We Go From Here? Talking to Children About the Election

I am trying to find the words to explain to my children what happened, to tell them where we will go from here, as a family and as a nation.

When Trump first began to garner support before the primary, I made the hasty knee-jerk statement in front of my family that if Trump won the Presidency we would look at alternative places to live. I told them I did not want to live in a country with a fear-based mission defined by misogyny and racism. The kids heard me and have periodically asked over the course of the last 6 months, “Are we going to move?”

Since then, I have repeatedly and cautiously told them I didn’t think we would leave after all. I told them that while I understood why some people would choose to go, we would probably stay here because there is work to be done.

As parents, we want to keep our kids safe from anything that will hurt them—from monsters literal and figurative. I want to tell them that we will keep them safe, but I can’t. Not really. We can try and protect our kids, but we cannot keep them safe from what’s happening, because what’s happening right now is not safe.
 
In his 1986 Nobel Peace Prize speech, Elie Wiesel said, “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

This is not the time for silence.

Some of us have had the privilege of feeling more safe than others, but it’s that kind of self-centered false security that helped to get us to this place. I can’t lie to my children or give them reassurances. I can’t tell them that the people we love are going to be safe, especially when so many are at this moment afraid for their safety because of the color of their skin or where they are from or what they believe or whom they love.  I can’t tell my kids that any of us will be safe or that it’s going to be ok.  Now is the time for honesty, for looking in the mirror, and for looking around at the people in our circles.

This is what I’m going to tell my children:

We have to stay.

We are stronger together: immigrant, Muslim, Native, trans, gay, Black, Mexican, disabled, queer, feminist, refugee, and all the rest who make up the patchwork of this country, this community, this family.

To threaten one of us, is to threaten all of us, and we cannot stand by and let that happen.

We have to learn from this.

We have to listen, to bear witness, to really pay attention.

We have to add our voices to those who have been shouting for justice and equality.

We have to amplify the cries of those being silenced.

We have to stand alongside those who have never had the luxury of being complacent and comfortable.

We have to hold up those who are being knocked down.

We have to help to heal those who are being hurt.

We have to love one another and defend the right of others to love whomever they choose.

I will tell my children that yes, Trump won this election, but not everyone voted for Trump. And we need to take time to understand why those who did chose to do so.

Most of all, I will tell them that we can still keep working for a better world, and if we are honest and humble, creative and compassionate and brave, we will find ways. Together.