Some things stay with you for a very long time. I can remember vividly every funeral I’ve attended. My grandma, who passed of breast cancer (this funeral had a major impact because I had never seen my mom sob, really I have no memory of mom crying before that day); my Aunt Betty, who had planned to teach me how to play the piano; my big ma Suzie, who had a long life; my aunt Vernita (who my mom says I act exactly like), who was murdered in DC (where I ironically would love to live); a school friend, Darnell, who was in a car accident my sophomore year of college; my uncle Alonzo (who helped in getting me here on this earth), who had health problems; my friend YL’s son, tragic story; my friend Angelia’s mom (whose funeral I only attended because she requested my presence–by then, I had written off funerals for good); my big ma Mary, again a long life; my Uncle Jobie. My mother says that death is a part of life, but as someone who has for most of her life been pretty emotionally stable, some would say almost unemotional, dealing with death has never been something I feel good at. My emotions go into overdrive when I fully swallow the death announcement and I reminisce on what made that person so special to me and to all the people crying while the preacher tells us to rejoice.
And so it goes, two people who I had connections with have passed in the last month or so. One of my classmates, Nakemia Riley, who I sang in concert choir with in college, passed with complications with her diabetes. Talk about alarming. She was so young and so vibrant. You couldn’t be in a room with her and not laugh. She was so full of life and positivity, and abruptly she’s gone. And her two best friends, also my friends, are just left with memories. One of the members of my alumni chapter, Clyde Bennett, passed last week from kidney cancer and I attended his memorial service on Saturday. Again, bright spirit–the stories told were all too familiar. Everyone got a lil bit of Clyde’s sunshine and thought they had been special! LOL! Clyde made everyone feel VIP–especially me. From the time I got to Atlanta he was so supportive. When I started having issues within the chapter, Clyde always had a word of encouragement and assurance. What’s so ironic is that he had been volunteering with the Cancer Support Ministry at his church, not knowing that a few years later, he’d be a victim himself. And it’s crazy because it was caught so late–and by accident. Clyde had been in a car accident last year, and after some time, his back was still hurting despite the meds so the doctors decided to finally run some additional tests and it just spiraled so quickly from there.
As I sat in the sanctuary, I kept thinking of how unfair it was that with all the evil people in the world who either have no purpose or whose purpose is just nothing good, that time would be up for these good-hearted, God-fearing people. Yeah, I’m certainly happy and comforted that they’re going north, but how could they have fulfilled their purposes already?? I know they fought the good fight, but why is their part of the fight over? Clyde’s neighbor said that part of it is that we need to keep a piece of Clyde with us and try to be as selfless and helpful as he was. But it just doesn’t seem like enough.
People have been asking me how I’m doing and confirming that I took it hard. I dunno what to call it. I’m ok, and I don’t know if it’s that I took it hard or that it’s just making me consider my philosophy on what we’re here for. Part of it is that I look at things at the micro and the macro levels. So it’s not my thinking about the two people most recently–it’s everybody and how death affects and maybe even defines us. I hope that in my time on Earth I’ve contributed substantially, even though who’s to say what’s substantial… I definitely hope to have the people brimming with positive reflections of their time with me. I wonder will I care then though.
Luckily, as He always is, God is right on time because there’s a women’s conference at my church this week. So I’ll definitely be there trying to put my wandering and scattered mind back together.