Marsha King-Lane 9/12/50 – 11/13/04
13 years… I can’t believe it’s been 13 years
How can it feel like so long ago and yesterday at the same time? How can I feel so removed from this experience, while it is always so present? How is it that life is so different since then, yet I am so eternally connected to this date? How are the words “my mom died” still so foreign to me, while that reality circumferences my life in every way? Death is the most natural unnatural thing to happen to us in life. It bottles up pain and joy and injects both into moments like a intravenous drip.
I miss you Mommie, now in new ways. Yet I am strong in new ways too, I’m more strong than I knew I was. And this year I celebrate differently, this year I celebrate the woman I’ve become. The woman you birthed, the woman who looks like you. And I know for the first time since you’ve been gone, as I’ve done so much #SelfWork, and I’ve lied steadfast before the Father, that you see me, because you see me through His eyes, and you are proud.
Rocked to my core! The wind knocked completely out of me! I have spent the last several days stuck on a couch in an emotional pendulum swing between shock and grief. And although my faith has always been strong, this, this thing, your not being on the earth anymore, has shaken me to that core, down to my very faith. It’s like I want to ask the Lord, did You get this one wrong? My niece who embraced me from the very moment she met me after marrying into her family. The one who called me Auntie, thus calling me family when my heart ached from the loss of my own family. In those days when the passing of my mother was fresh, and my support was thin, Stacey had no idea how she blessed me with her very presence, with her acceptance, with her embrace. She had no idea how she made me feel loved without even trying, I can only hope that I made her feel the same. And all the countless qualities she possessed that others experienced through her that I don’t even know about, but so many that I saw for myself. Vibrant, beautiful, talented, creative, warm. The beautiful young woman who smiled with her whole face. The special young woman who radiated of positivity, who was a beacon and example for other young people on how to do this “live your dreams” thing. The one who radiated Black Girl Magic in exquisite and rich dark chocolate skin. With all of this, her young marriage, and babies not yet in grade school, her life budding of newness, is it possible that You got this one wrong God? I know You can’t make mistakes but this has got me stuck on this couch, the wondering if maybe for the first time in history, that this was in fact a mistake. Please help me to comprehend.
And then it occurs to me. A word is dropped in my spirit, this word is seldomly taught in churches. That word is… sovereign. It is the understanding that God You have all power, that You have all authority. And regardless of my little human brain to comprehend what has taken place, You are sovereign. Yet with this understanding we still grieve our great loss, the loss of a child, a mother, a wife, a sister, a cousin, a friend, a niece. We grieve the loss of the phenomenal deposit of Your likeness in her.
We also honor the utmost privilege of knowing that she is now in Your full presence… again. For we know to be absent with the body is to be present with the Lord, and that she belonged to You from the beginning of time. She has now only returned to that place which was her home all along. She is gloriously draped in love, and is now ever abounding in You. Thank you Jesus for taking all of her pain away, she will not again know struggle, illness, weakness, nor despair. She was a woman of God on earth, and now she receives her reward in every moment remaining in eternity. She ran her race, and while we desire that she had more time to run it, she did indeed run it well.
So now Holy Spirit, be who You are, be our Comforter. Be our strength. Be the bearer of our grief. For those who knew her for the full course of her life, and cared for her most directly, be their strength. For those who are now redefining their lives with the inconceivable thought of being without her, be their strength. For those who were touched in personal ways by who she was, be our strength. Comfort us oh God, let us feel Your presence near. And let us have a glimpse of and take great console in the assurance of where she is today. It is an honor to have this knowing and this peace. That she is ever abounding in paradise with You. How glorious she is, how magnificent is that place. Let us be honored by the moments we had with her beautiful spirit as we attempt to accept that she has returned home.
Dear Stacey, thank you for embracing me. Thank you for making me feel loved and accepted. I know now as you are in the full presence of God, that you now understand how special you were to me, are to me. As I grieve loosing you now, I’m just now starting to understand that I am also grieving the loss of you after my divorce, I’m grieving the family I had in you. But I truly thank you for the honor and privilege of knowing you and loving you. It’s amazing the work that was completed in you in countless ways. Your parents did a fabulous job in molding you into this ray of sunshine that lit up dark places. The crevasses of my heart will always be filled by you. Thank you for being my family. I love you niece, until we meet again.
Your Auntie Tiff
(Thank you cousin Jeannie Bates and sis Donyia Burnett for allowing me to grieve and celebrate with the family.)
I had a flashback. In my very conscious effort to diffuse all that’s going on right now from my spirit and mind, I am reminded that I actually have the option to diffuse. I along with anyone who takes their emotional and mental well being seriously had to pull back at least a bit from last week’s tragedy. We cant be constantly reminded of tragedy, bury our heads in the sand and pretend it’s not happening, no, but we do have to be sensitive to how much information we take in. But all of this reminded me of a time when I couldn’t diffuse because I was in the front seat of grief.
A much younger cousin of mine came up to me only a few hours after my mother’s funeral and said, “Whew, I’m glad that’s over.” It that moment I thought to myself, yeah maybe for you. The funeral was only just a step for me in a very long process of grieving. We in the public, especially those who are African American can feel real grief, pain, threat, fear, all of that, as it relates to the killing of Black men and women by brutal police. This hits home because we understand full well that what happened to them could happen to us, or someone we know or love. But our grief cant touch the surface of those who are directly tied to these men who lost their lives last week, or last year, or 10 years ago, or 100 years ago. (Because we do know the killing of Black folk by police or authorities is not a new phenomenon right? It being caught on film is the only new thing… but I digress.) Like me during those grief stricken days closely connected in time to my own mother’s death, the family and friends of Mr Alton Sterling and Mr Philando Castile cannot so easily disconnect from their pain with distractions on television and Facebook.
Alton Sterling was a working married man. He was taking care of his children who adored him. In the picture to the upper right is his 15 year old baby boy, Cameron Sterling crying out during his father’s funeral. It was Cameron who most connected me to who Alton was during his outcry through last week’s press conference. It’s in moments of a human expression of agony that connects us to a sense of loss. I think they call that empathy. Cameron didn’t deserve to loose his daddy.
Philando Castile was an all around good guy who was loved by family, friends and his community. The picture to the upper left is a powerful photo that speaks to the spirit of the African American experience during loss. The hands raised represent the choosing to hold ones head high even when your loved one was taken senselessly. The white suits represent the purity of this young man’s spirit and the love he had for the children he served at the elementary school he worked for.
Neither of these men deserved to die. None of these families deserved to bury their loved ones today. Praying for Alton’s family and friends. Praying for Philando’s family and friends. Praying for Cameron who misses his father at such an impressionable age of early manhood. Praying for Diamond Reynolds and her daughter who witnessed murder in cold blood.