Friday, November 30, 2012

My smile.


Happy Friday. :)

Your smile.

But nothing means as much
nothing seems to touch
your smile

If anything, I'd miss
How could I resist
your smile? 

~ Angela Winbush


Was thinking of you and your smile this morning. A few more sunshowers came. But that's okay. Missing you terribly right this minute but I know that won't change. So you know? I'm putting your smile in my pocket and carrying it with me all day long. Matter of fact, a piece of your smile will always be inside of mine. Maybe it always was.


That thought just comforted me. Kind of like your smile, suppose.

Your smile was a gift and this morning it's still giving. Yep. So I'm glad about that part.

Just noticed something. . . .seems like whenever your smile joins another one, it somehow gets brighter. That, too, is a gift. My bet is that somebody somewhere is looking at your smile right now and smiling -- a bigger, brighter smile. Perhaps with a fleeting sunshower, too. But that's okay.

Your smile. What a lovely calling card. Thanks for that.

Loving you today. Loving you always. More glad than sad.

And smiling.

Happy Friday. Hey! And don't forget to smile.

Now playing. Thanks for the soundtrack this morning, Ms. Winbush.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Today at Grady.

Tell me what's better than being a third year medical student and finding out that YOU put your nickel down and called the correct diagnosis from YOUR OWN data-mining and researching?  The case reports that YOU found had answers that YOU told the team about. That they'd NEVER heard of. Or thought of. Because YOU cared enough to want to get those answers for YOUR patient. Yes, YOU. Only to find out that it made a difference. A real, true difference.

So you tell me -- what's better than that?

I'll tell you.

Knowing that your patient is one step closer to getting better, that's what. Better. Thanks to you. Yeah, you. The medical student.

(It also doesn't hurt to get some public props from your ward attending in the form of a fist bump for being THAT person, either.)

Go Sarah.

Go medical students.

Go figure.

Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sugar Pie Honey Bunch.

Today in the elevator at Grady this elder got on with me. As soon as he saw me, his face erupted into a big, beige-toothed grin, he stomped his foot and cooed, "Awww, Sugar Pie Honey Bunch!"

And yes. I was the only other person on the elevator. So yes. He was talking to me.

Sugar Pie Honey Bunch? Wow.

I paused for a moment because it was kind of funny. Then I replied, "You know? That might be one of the best things I've heard all week."

And do you know what he said in response? Do you?

Well. He didn't say anything. Instead he just closed his eyes, started popping his fingers and swaying from side to side.

Which reminds me -- why is it that the older people get the louder they can snap their fingers? This is an observation Harry made one day while I was dancing in front of the television one night. He said I was "snapping all hard and loud like a old lady." Mmm hmmm.


So where was I? The Motown cat-daddy. Yeah, him. So dude starts getting his two-step on and hunching his arthritic shoulders to the beat. And do you know what he did next? Of course you do! He sang me some old school Four Tops--all the way to the ground floor. Sure did.

Kind of like this:

(I guess he just couldn't help himself.)

And can I just say that I loved every second of it? Because I did.

And this? This, sugar, is Grady.

Happy Wednesday.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Back to work.

I went back to work today. And specifically, I went to the Grady wards to assume the service I was supposed to pick up on November 16. People were sick, too. The team is busy and there was a lot going on.

A whole lot.

So how'd it go? Mostly, it was fine. I was reminded of how much love is in that place. Just . . .wow. Everywhere I went, I was embraced by fellow physicians, nurses, social workers and patient transporters--you name it. All with quiet, respectful eyes and those types of hugs that will make you cry if you aren't careful.

Not that I'm trying to avoid crying or anything.  But I'm just saying--you know those types of hugs when you get them.

Anyways. There was one point in my day where I sat beside a man who was crying about his loved one. "Boo-hoo" crying as my best friend Lisa D. calls it. He was a Grady elder who had been married for longer than I've been alive. His whole body was shaking and heaving and out from his mouth poured the most desperate and mournful of cries. All while I sat between him and their adult children, both of whom were crying, too.


In that moment I realized something. I'm a different person now. Kind of like how my pediatric clinical acumen and bedside manner sharpened after having babies of my own. This kind of pain was no longer hypothetical. I felt my heart reaching out to his, my touch more knowing. Less about sympathy, more about empathy.

Interestingly, though, I wasn't crying. And you know that I have no issues with crying in front of my patients. Especially my Grady elders. But for whatever reason, I just held his arm and stayed silent. Feeling his rhythmic rocking and periodically handing him more tissue. And I was okay because his cries felt like they were almost in solidarity with those I've released recently.

I was rounding with Sarah, our medical student today. Just the two of us. After the umpteenth person offered me condolences in the hallway, I explained to her that I'd just lost my sister and that today was my first day back. And saying that to someone who doesn't know is both awkward and awful. Awkward because what are they supposed to say to that beyond the sorry? Is it safe to smile or laugh on rounds? It's hard to tell, right? It's also awful because. . .well, it just is. But when Sarah and I left that room with that crying elder, she looked in my eyes with genuine concern and asked if I was okay. She touched my shoulder and made sure to check on me. Me.

I appreciated that. I did. I appreciated this student who was on her first day working on this team acknowledging my reality right in that moment. I told her I did, too. And I told her I was okay. Because I was.

And look. Let me just say for the record that I am not coaching myself to feel any kind of way. Like I'm not fighting to be strong or whatever thing people think they're supposed to be in times like this. But I'm also not forcing myself to hang my head and look the part of whatever this part is supposed to look like. I'm just responding to myself and feeling how I feel. And what I am sharing is how I feel which, as crazy as it sounds, is mostly peaceful.

Someone told me I looked "peaceful" today. And I told them that this was a good word for it. Because I am. Of course, I'm very sad. In fact, if I may be frank, this whole thing effing sucks. But even still-- it's just hard to have someone like Deanna in your life even for a moment and not feel swept up in a wave of gratitude. So I guess that gives me a lot of peace.


I got to tell a lot of people about my sister today. I told them of her qualities and why I loved her so. Or love her so. See? There's that "tense" thing again. But what can you do? You walk through it, you love through it. That's what I am doing.

My friend, Natalie L., wrote these words to me today regarding my "tense" struggle:

"deanna's presence is so strong around you enveloping you and your family with such power. how can the person who is responsible for this force be described with the word 'was'? she cannot. she is most certainly an 'is'."  

Those words comforted me. So thanks for that, Natalie. You are a true friend.

Yeah. So I returned to work today.  Baptized by fire on the Grady wards. And, like always, it was filled with joy, pain, sunshine and rain. But as a wise man (okay, Frankie Beverly) once wrote: "Where there's the flower, there's the sun and the rain. Oh, but it's wonderful--they're both one and the same."

This I know for sure.

Night, night. And thanks for continuing to listen because it's helping me.

Now playing, music from a wise man named Frankie Beverly with a funky baseline provided by his band, Maze. Y'all don't know nothin' 'bout this.

Music Lyrics Monday: I like the sunrise.

I like the sunrise

I like the sunrise 
'cause it brings a new day
I like the new day 

it brings new hope they say
I like the sunrise 

blazing in the new sky
Night-time is weary

oh, so am I

Every evening I wish upon a star

That my brand new bright tomorrow isn't very far
When that heavy blue curtain of night
Is raised up high way out of sight

I like the sunrise 

so heavenly, so heavenly to see
I like the sunrise

I hope it likes poor me

Here comes the sunrise... 

~  Originally performed by Duke Ellington


I like this song. The hopefulness of it. The simplicity of it. I love every version I've heard but something about the sweetness of this artist's voice singing it puts me in a quiet, meditative space.

I am hearing this song differently now. The hope even stronger, the promise greater. Night-time is weary. But the sunrise brings a new day and, with it, new hope.

They say.

Yesterday I was driving on highway 78 toward my mother's house. As I passed Deanna's exit, which came two exits before Tounces', out of habit I picked up my cell phone and started to call her. Doing what I always did. Letting her know that we would be at Mom's and to come over and meet us. And I swear to you, as sure as I am sitting here--in that tiny split second it seemed like none of this had happened and that she'd pick up the phone and say, "Hey Sissy!"

Yeah. So that. That punched me in my chest hard. And I let it. I drove and wept as my kids watched Pokemon in the back seat. Because at that moment, I wanted nothing more than that mundane act of sitting at a kitchen table with my sister. Talking about what we liked to call "a whole bunch of nothing."

The other hard thing I've been noticing is tense. Like, I struggle with tense when it comes to my sister. The finality of past tense doesn't feel right. Saying, for example, that I'm "one of four" isn't so hard. But I can't get my mind around words like "had" and "was." This is one of those things that people who have experienced loss close to home probably nod their heads over as they read this.

So. I carefully choose those words. I dance around tense and push my mind to straddle them all. Past. Present. Future.

In response to a question about my family this weekend:

"I'm the middle girl of four. Eldest son, three daughters." 

Because I still am.

While straightening my niece Olivia's hair yesterday:

"Your hair reminds me of Auntie Deanna's. Fine and soft."

Because it does.

To Isaiah before he left for school:

"Your project looks amazing. Remember what Auntie said? 'We always do more than is asked.'"

Because we do.

That takes some forethought. I admit that I'm still struggling with things like "would have" and "could have." I'm sure it sounds a little crazy but it's just me trying to process through this bumpy and sticky reality. The one that involves me passing Mountain Industrial Boulevard and not calling Deanna to meet me.


But, see, that's why I like the sunrise. Because this morning it brought me happy thoughts and rich memories of my funny, creative, amazing sister. And hope that I will eventually adjust to this new normal.

You know? I know that I will, too.  Because the sunrise brings new hope.

They say.

Happy Monday.

Now playing.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Yet do I marvel.

Someone asked me the other day--or rather they made more of a statement to me:

"I'm so amazed that you've been able to write with all that's going on."

I wasn't really sure what to make of that, but I'm pretty certain that it wasn't meant to be insulting so I just shrugged. Because I'm kind of amazed, too.

I won't really go into that much more, but instead I'll just say that I'm glad to have a voice. Man, I am.

Speaking of which.

I received a message yesterday from one of the former students in my very first small group. It wasn't a message of condolence or any such thing. I had already heard from this student very shortly after Deanna left us. This time, the message was for another reason. He reached out to share a pivotal moment he'd had in patient care. And that's all.

The note was straightforward. He was taking care of a man with some cognitive issues and very limited literacy. An elder with not even a full elementary education and the kind of difficulty understanding things that was even harder back then because there weren't any names for such things or early interventions.


So anyways. Tony, from Small Group Alpha, is now a second year ENT resident. You can say "ear, nose, and throat" or, if you want to be all fancy with it, you can flex your linguistic muscles and say the proper name for it: "otolaryngology." Regardless of what you call it, that's what he's doing and I'm always elated to hear how it's going and how he's growing. And I'm glad that Tony still has a way and a desire to tell me about moments such as this.

This elder unfortunately had a recurrent throat cancer. Laryngeal cancer, to be exact. And Tony, being the head and neck surgeon (they go by that, too) was charged with coming in there to see this man and talk to him all about this procedure he was going to have. A procedure that would take away his ability to speak. For good.

And isn't it perfect that I'd receive this message at a time when people are thinking of things to be thankful for? We think of many things, but usually not our voice. At least I don't.

Well, Tony spent a lot of time talking to this gentleman and did so with care. No, I wasn't there, but I was there from the first day Tony started medical school. I listened to him and talked to him over the years so I know that it was important to him that this man understand what this surgery would entail. No matter how long it took, without question, I can say that Tony wanted to do all he could to afford this patient the chance to make the most informed decision possible.

And so. He talked. He explained. Carefully. And fully caring, too.

The gentleman had a tracheostomy tube in his throat at the time which limited his ability to speak during that conversation. But not yet permanently because there are speaking valves and such than can be used to help people talk. That is, if they have a larynx.

So after this young doctor spent all of that time speaking to him, he bit the bullet and did the thing that we are all taught to do but often come up with excuses to avoid. Ask the patient to tell back--or teach back--exactly what the gist of the plan is based upon their understanding.

This can be loaded. Mostly because if the person gets it all wrong, you're back at square one. Which, in my opinion, you're at whether you confirm it or not when the patient doesn't understand. A lot of times we feel the pressure of a ticking clock looming over us. The cop out question gets asked: "Any questions?" Which, most of the time, is often met with a "not right now."

That, or just one or two tiny ones that often gives the doctor the "dat'll do" wrap-up they were looking for. Especially if they are generic enough questions to convince us that we've explained things well.

But Tony did something even more extraordinary. He asked this question -- "What is your understanding of this surgery that I just talked to you about?" -- to a patient with a less than sixth grade education and some learning disabilities who also could not respond verbally. Having him write would be very tedious -- and time consuming -- but there wasn't another option.

Still, though, he asked. He respected that man enough to ask. Even more, he respected him enough to talk to him with the dignity he deserved and then positioned himself to have to wipe down the chalkboard and start all over again. He sure did.

And so. As his doctor patiently waited, the man took a piece of paper and scrawled these words in response to that question:

And I will tell you exactly what Tony said to me about this:

"Not sure exactly why yet, but I know this is one of the most important images that I'll see during my training."

I think he's right.

That entire note moved me in the deepest parts of my soul. I needed to hear that yesterday. Some other person's reality. If only for a moment, you know? Does that even make sense? I don't know.

Though I didn't cry, I did immediately feel like I wanted to when I saw this. And I'm not sure if it had to do with the fact that this man was losing his voice for good or the fact that this young doctor caring for him took the time to give him one.

Perhaps it's a bit of both.

Our voice is a gift. No matter what is going on, it is. And though I thought I knew that, this story underscored that for me even more.

I have this label I often use that you've seen and perhaps wondered about -- "yet do I marvel." (I know Nancy doesn't because she's all about the poetry, but others may wonder.) It comes from a poem from the Harlem Renaissance by a poet named Countee Cullen called "Yet Do I Marvel." There's lots of interpretations of the poem, so I won't go into all of that. What I will say is that I think the poem is hopeful and celebratory and not a lamentation. Against all odds, particularly the ones a man of color such as this author faced in the 1920's, he still had a voice. A voice!

So sometimes I see things and I just think to myself, "Wow." Because I'm just glad to be here. In spite of all that is going on in the world, I'm glad that I'm here to bear witness. I'm glad for hearts worn directly on sleeves. And especially in the time that I am walking through right now, I am glad for a voice.

A voice.

So to the dear person who couldn't believe that I could still write and talk through such unspeakable grief, I will share with you the poem my mother read to me as an elementary school kid -- likely close to the very age that patient was when he finished his education for good. Even though life doesn't make sense sometimes, there is always something in which to marvel.

At least that's what I think.


Yet Do I Marvel

I doubt not God is good, well-meaning, kind,
And did He stoop to quibble could tell why
The little buried mole continues blind,   
Why flesh that mirrors Him must some day die,
Make plain the reason tortured Tantalus
Is baited by the fickle fruit, declare   
If merely brute caprice dooms Sisyphus
To struggle up a never-ending stair.   
Inscrutable His ways are, and immune   
To catechism by a mind too strewn   
With petty cares to slightly understand   
What awful brain compels His awful hand.   
Yet do I marvel at this curious thing:   
To make a poet black, and bid him sing!

~ Countee Cullen

Happy Sunday.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Mom and Frannie looked all over for that pin and couldn't find it. I walked into Mom's house today and found this box sitting with several other items she'd brought home from Deanna's house. Inside of the box was a silver elephant necklace that nearly filled the entire box. For whatever reason, I pulled out the necklace to look at it and what did I see pressed up against the side of that box?


My sister's sorority pin! It was there! Right there!

I had tried my hardest to convince myself that she'd lost it. But my sister wasn't that type of Delta. Nope, not her.

Mission accomplished. Without even being on a mission.


Happy Saturday. And shout out to Miss Chevious who assured me that I'd find it soon.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving morning.

Last year, we started a tradition on Thanksgiving morning. A balloon release in memory of our loved ones. Nothing too fancy, really.

We sit. We talk. We give thanks. We remember. With intention.

Who were they? What was special about them? What was funny about them? And any other questions they might have. 

We remember Harry's father. Also known as "Granddaddy-in-heaven." He was a great father. Harry said that no matter what anybody ever said, he always knew his father loved him. He didn't like people messing with his car or kids playing near it. That was a funny thing about him. He loved children and would have loved his grandsons. Yes, it makes Daddy sad that he didn't get to play with them. But Harry also says that before his father passed away, he had already taught him all he needed to know about being a man.

Granddaddy-in-heaven made his transition early in the morning on December 20, 1992 -- Harry's twenty-second birthday.

We remember C.J. Short for Cedric Jr. Everywhere he went, people marveled at how smart he was. His daddy has a big Harley Davidson hog and C.J. had a mini-hog just like Uncle Ced. C.J. loved to shake his booty to the theme song to Madagascar 2-- "I like to Move it-Move it." The kids are comforted in knowing that Auntie will get to help take care of him just like she took care of them.

C.J. left us four years ago today on November 23, 2008.  We will always, always remember to never forget his precious life.

We remember Auntie Deanna. Also known as simply "Auntie." It was hard to do a lot of talking. But we just hugged and talked and let ourselves feel thankful for her. She was funny when playing board games with the boys. Very. In fact, she never let any kid win a game just because they're a kid. Nope. Not Auntie. She was proud of all of us--and had this special way of making us all feel proud of ourselves.

Today marks one week since Auntie was called to heaven. Isaiah said he was glad that we started this tradition last year. I agreed and said that love should be intentional and remembering sometimes has to be deliberate. Especially as time passes. Then I explained that all that means is that you have to do stuff on purpose and not just wait for it to happen sometimes.

They got it. Especially Isaiah.

This image simultaneously broke and touched my heart. Oh, that Isaiah. That boy loved his Auntie. Both boys did. But, see, Deanna understood my Isaiah in a way that few do. She knew how to encourage him like no other and had this magical way of bringing out the best in him. She did.

I pray that he holds onto these lessons and carries them into manhood. Just like Harry did with his father.

Auntie's balloon had to be red. "'Cause that's her favorite color," Zachary insisted. And the boys also decided that they each wanted their own "Auntie balloon." I had no problem with that. The others got pink balloons since Dollar Tree was out of white stars. (Isaiah said not to let it happen again since he is sure that C.J. won't be so happy about a pink heart balloon!)

We also had balloons to release for Harry's and my grandparents that passed before they were born. And this year we got a balloon for our friend, Mrs. Reed's son, Mac. Because we love her and since we do, we love and remember him, too.

Up they went. Toward the heavens. Up, up, and away. (One close call with a tree, but fortunately it finally got out of there.)

Yes. Doing it this year was kind of hard. And no. We cannot release the acute pain we all feel this year. But we will love and remember with such intention that we won't release their memory. No, we will not. And my guess is that eventually it will be less and less painful. And maybe not painless. Just less painful.

I hope.

Oh. I was proud today when Isaiah was playing one of his favorite video games called "Scribblenauts" -- and showed me this character he'd created.

"It's Auntie," he said with a smile. "I was just thinking about her so I made her a superhero angel."

And I smiled at him and replied, "It's perfect, son." Because it was.

Even in the midst of all of this, he is learning that it's okay to remember. And what's better is that he's doing it his way -- and on purpose.


The seasons will change. The clocks will tick-tock and the earth will revolve. All while hearts are breaking and trying to mend in those quiet moments nestled inside of other lives going on. This is why we promise to always stop, pause, and surrender to love.

Last year I had no idea how meaningful this balloon release would mean to us just three hundred sixty five days later. No, I didn't. Isn't it funny how sometimes you think you're doing something for someone else, never realizing that it was really for you? Or just as much for you as it was them?

I don't know.

So, yeah. We started out our Thanksgiving this year exactly like we did last year. By releasing balloons into the heavens in remembrance of those who've gone home before us. And this year--more than ever--something about watching those hearts flying high in the sky lifted all of ours.

I felt really thankful for that.

Happy Day-after-Thanksgiving.

Now playing on my mental iPod--this one's for you, C.J.!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Installment #1, Thanksgiving Edition: WILD OUT!


I asked you to "wild out" if you love Deanna -- or if you love somebody period -- and boy, did you deliver! Man!

You puckered, mean-mugged, crossed eyes, you tongue-wagged and even did some things that I can't quite figure out how to describe. You did this on the west coast, the east coast, in the deepest parts of the south and the coldest parts of the northern U.S.  Yes!

Man. You guys are silly.

And really y'all -- how can you not smile when you're receiving pictures like these and knowing the impetus behind them? How can you not grin from ear to ear when you're thinking about someone special and then just. . . WILDING OUT! (Yes "wilding" can be a verb, thank you very much.) It feels good to do that, doesn't it?

The best part is. . . Some of you who sent these photos, I know personally. But quite a few, I do not--which makes this even better and makes me even happier. Deanna would have loved this--the sheer ridiculousness of it all. Plus, she was always "wilding" out. So it's quite fitting.

I know y'all have been thinking of us today. And I'd be lying if I said it hasn't been tough, but seeing your faces has helped with us remembering to be more glad than sad. For real.

Okay. You ready?

One-two-three. . . .WILD OUT if you love Deanna and/or if you love somebody -- and especially if you're thankful!

My guess is that you and your silly faces are going to make my parents smile today, too.  And that? That's something to be thankful for--and something to wild out about!

Happy Thanksgiving. And thanks.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

More glad than sad.

 Cause you were my sister
my strength, and my pride
Only God may know why
still I will get by 

~ from the soundtrack "Set It Off"


This morning, me and reality had a brawl. He grabbed me by my neck and tried as hard as he could to wrestle me to the ground. I was almost down for the count, but then I did one of those moves where you roll on your back, push up into a handstand with your extended arms until your arched body flies up into the air and lands on its feet again. I landed in a Karate Kid stance, for real.

Ready to fight. At least as much as I could.

Yesterday was mostly good. In fact, it was more than mostly good. Our family had dinner together at one of Deanna's favorite restaurants. We hugged and laughed and a few times we cried. But it was okay. Yeah. Mostly it was okay.

We went into her home yesterday. Some part of me was conflicted about that. I struggled with this idea of looking through things and for things and kept trying not to feel like I was invading her privacy. Then a peace washed over me, telling me: She was your sister. She trusted you all. You must do this. And so we did. Me and Will and JoLai and Daddy. We did.

That was hard. And no, it wasn't like we went and tried to do a big cleaning/clearing job but just going in there and seeing so many signs of her life was hard. Crocheted projects that weren't quite done. The DELTA journal lying on a table. Photographs of all of us and all of her friends and nieces and nephews and. . . yeah. It felt like we'd interrupted her mid-sentence. That part hurt.

One day, a few years ago, Deanna and I were sitting in my sunroom talking. A sorority sister had passed away and Deanna said, "I wonder who got all of her Delta items? Like the secret things like official books and her sorority pin? And even her Delta t-shirts?"

"Good question," I replied. "I'm sure she had someone she trusted to do that. Don't you think?"

"Well, I hope so. Because one time someone sent me a picture of some old dude mowing a lawn with a Delta Sigma Theta t-shirt on!"

"Maybe he was a Delta," I laughed.

"Uuuhh, no." We cackled a bit and then she said, "Hey. Look, if something ever happens to me, make sure you go in and get my books and my sorority pin, okay? I'm for real."

"I'll be senile by then but I'll see what I can remember."

"I'm not joking."

"I know! But okay. I promise, I will. And you get mine, okay?"

"It's a deal."

And I swear to you that just as sure as I sit at this table typing this, we had that conversation. And I'm glad we did because it felt like marching orders. Which I kind of needed.

The problem is, Deanna wasn't prepared for me to need to find those things. So she hadn't left me a map. They weren't in the obvious places. Her jewelry box didn't have her pin. Her Delta tote bags didn't have her confidential sorority books. So I looked. And looked. I checked dresses to see if the pin had been left affixed. I scouted out boxes and her car.

No such luck.

I was digging through what felt like the umpteenth jewelry case and still not seeing her official pin. And since I hadn't found the books either, all of it welled up in me like some kind of vicious tsunami of grief. I fought back, scouring, picking, sifting with even more tenacity. I was talking to myself. Coaching myself to think and find what my marching orders told me to find. This was my duty. I had to find those things. So I kept chanting to myself until my voice started becoming a pleading whimper in her closet. Saying over and over, "Pin. Where are you? Pin. Where would you be? Please God. Where. Where?"

And thank God JoLai was there and overheard me in the closet. She came and put her hands on my shoulders and rested her head on my back. "Stop. It's okay, Kimberly," she said quietly. "It's okay."

I stopped then and just wept. I wept and wept over her elephant necklaces and African violet corsages. Over lapel pins with rhinestone-encrusted Greek symbols all reminding me of her love and commitment to her sorority. To our sorority. And  I just let myself have that moment.

Delta was something Deanna and I shared. Just us. We're the only ones in our immediate family who pledged Delta, so we have many, many memories not just as blood sisters but as Delta sisters, too.

So losing that part of her is hard, too. Unbelievably so, because she was one of the most invested Delta women I've ever known. In fact, I just found this on my desktop from a nomination letter I wrote about her for a sorority award back in 2009. It started like this:

"I would like to take this opportunity to tell you about the best Delta I know.  In my nearly 17 years in Delta, there is no soror who has had a greater impact on me.  This is interesting, considering I was made nearly six years earlier than she."

Pretty cool, huh? Aaaah. Such provisions.

She is still the best Delta I know. Not even kidding. 

Speaking of provisions--that just made me think of something. Isn't it a lovely provision that just last month, I would dedicate an entire post to our black college experience -- including an explanation behind African-American sorority/fraternity ties? And for those who would not have known of this world at all -- you understand now. You know what kind of lifelong commitments these organizations are for us and, perhaps, you just might have some insight on what I must have been feeling.

See? That was another provision. God knew that I'd need you to understand. Not just those of you who share cultural similarities and experiences with me, but every single one of you in this community. And I needed you to understand because I've needed your support.

So. . . .yeah.

Shortly before we left, JoLai lifted up some half-crocheted masterpiece and saw a notebook underneath. "What's this, Kimberly? Are these the books you were looking for?"

And I turned and looked. Squinting carefully and opening it quietly. The first thing I saw was her own calligraphy in the inside of the cover:

Deanna Draper
April 3, 1998

It was her name and her date of initiation. And it was exactly what I was looking for. I pulled it to my chest and cried tears of relief. I was so happy to have at least one of those items in my own two hands just as she'd requested. The whole room fell quiet as I hugged those books and released my ugly cry. Because I needed that moment. I needed to be my sister's keeper.

"Hey, check this out!"  JoLai handed me a picture.  It was a photo of a friend of Deanna's from way back in middle school--who was incarcerated at the time the photo was taken.

"What the hell?" I said.

"There's also a four page handwritten letter he sent with it." JoLai looked at me with a mischievous smirk. She tried not to laugh but the corner of her mouth kept twitching. Will looked over at it and then said the dude's name--which I won't say here.

"Seriously, Deanna?" Will chimed in.

"That was just Deanna. She always kept the light on for people," I said.

"In other words, she was friend hoarder, too." JoLai and I laughed.

"What in the world does that mean?" Will wanted to be in on the joke.

"It's when you don't get rid of any friends. You just collect and collect them without turning any of them loose. Even if they're a convicted felon."

We tried not to laugh at first but then erupted into a hearty laugh -- together. That made us feel a little better. It did. Because this idea of Deanna including people -- and even encouraging someone who was in a lonely place -- was so her.

That was her way. That was Dee.

We took a few special things. And then we left.

Check out this hat she'd completed. I bet it was inspired by Zachary's football games. Ha.

Only Deanna. (So gonna be wearing that next year.) She also made this poster for Zachary's last game. He reminded me of this yesterday and asked if I would paint him a poster next year.

Damn. I feel the same way, Zachary. Almost seems like he knew something, huh? Told you those kids have a sixth sense.


That championship game with her there is a fond memory. Man. She was cheering so loudly that she embarrassed the shit out of us. There was no shutting her up, y'all. She was in DOLBY STEREO, do you hear me? I'm talking LOUD. Which, now, I love because it makes me laugh out loud to think of it. And it also makes me realize that my sister always, always lived -- and loved -- OUT LOUD.

So with that in mind, my motto continues to be the one I've said since waking up on Friday morning:

"More glad than sad."

More glad that I knew her and had a close relationship with her than sad because of some missed opportunity. More glad that I found her Delta books than sad that I haven't yet found her Delta pin. And more glad that I can't think of a single thing I neglected to tell her that I wish I could now. . . .  than sad that I didn't. Because I didn't hold back. I told her constantly how much she meant to all of us.


It's okay. Provisions were made. I was being prepared for this moment even when I didn't know it was going to happen. That comforts me. It does.

And speaking of comfort. Now for more pictures, okay?

Deanna's line-number was three. So was Zachary's football number. Kind of special, huh?

 One of her closest friends in the sorority, Stacey, was also #3.  This image is for you, Stace.  And I just thought about something--I'm #33. So that counts, right?

Deanna and her fellow "#3s" always loved saying: "Three's Rule."

Yeah, man. Sisters pretty much rule.

I've said it before, but I will say it again. Thanks. For being here with me today and for reading and replying and holding my hand. This counts. It does. It is what I need at this moment and I believe in my heart of hearts that this blog was also a provision. And for that, I am so thankful.

Today. Now. Forever. Sure, I will always be a tiny bit sad. But that will get swallowed in my own tsunami of glad. Because me? I knew Deanna. And I'm forever changed for it. For that, my friends, I shall always be. . . . . . .more glad than sad.

Happy Wednesday. Thanks for all the "Go Wild" photos you've posted and emailed me, too. Stay tuned for that post. :)

Now playing on my mental iPod. A song that is a little sad, but it is helping me today. Thank you Ms. Gladys, Ms. Brandy, Ms. Chaka and Ms. Tamia for ministering to me today. Maybe they'll do the same for you even if it leads to an ugly cry.

One last "ah hah moment" that I just had:

This song was from the sound track of a movie called "Set it Off."  Guess what? That was Deanna's Linename--and her Big Sister Name--"Big Sister Set it Off."  So I guess this song isn't just for this  sister -- but all of her other ones, too. Provisions. . . .