Usually my daughter's face is the last thing I see before I sleep... and the first thing I see when I wake. Inevitably I'll smooth her curly hair, brush my hand across her face, marveling at the incredible eyelashes that conceal the eyes that dance with laughter and mischief when she's awake. Often she'll scoot closer, reaching her hand out to me as she sleeps, assuring me, as she does with her daily adoration, that despite all of the hours I spend working that her love for me is bright and unwavering.
Shortly after Willow was born, when it was unclear what role her father would play in her life, I made a vow that I would surround her with people that loved her. Around this time, a friend asked me what my greatest wish for her was and I surprised even myself when I replied without thinking, or hesitation, that I wanted her to be fearless.
I love my daughter. She is the brightest light I can imagine -- her boundless joy is something I'm completely in awe of. Every morning, Willow and I laugh and giggle, dance and sing, both of us somewhat in step, completely out of tune, but neither of us caring as she twirls, spins, shakes, jumps, twists and yells "Do it again, Mommy!!" My daughter gave me back my childhood. Her love of me, and of life, is so monumental that it's magically erased the pain I felt at feeling different and alone in my youth.
Tuesday morning as I lay next to her for a few precious minutes before beginning my transatlantic trek, I pondered my incredible journey and thought about how, as disparate as the threads of my life sometimes seem, the commonality is always the healing, the desire to bring the pieces together, to find the light in myself that is so remarkably present in my daughter, and bring it into the lives of others.
On Friday night, I land in Sierra Leone and the first important thing I do will be to gather my son Tejan in my arms and hope that this is last time he will be greeting me, instead of accompanying me, to Africa. And then I will begin the next phase of The Peace Project: the implementation of the final phase of Operation Rise and the launch of Make Peace 2012. I invite you to walk beside me, filmmaker Michele D'Acosta, my son Tejan, Elias Bangura (editor of Sierra Leone's For Di People newspaper) Edward Bockarie (leader of Community Associasion for Psychosocial Services) and the rest of our comrades there as we traverse the country seeking truth, learning what makes peace, and working to bring light -- not just to the people of Sierra Leone, but to all of you as well.
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