March 2nd, 2015, was the last day I saw Leo alive. He was one of my closest friends. I've known him since I was 10 years old and he was a friend of the family before I was even thought of. I went home for a week at the end of February and the beginning of March to do two things: celebrate my mom's retirement from her job of 38.5 years and to visit Leo, who had been in the hospital for months battling cancer. I saw him twice during my trip, and sat with him and talked about Diana Ross, his favorite artist, and he touched my newly chopped fro; I had done the big chop only a few days earlier. And in our last visit he said, "make sure you get me some pralines from Southern Candymakers and send them to me." We both loved New Orleans delicacies, such as praline candy and king cake, and he would often send me some to New York. I laughed at that and said "absolutely"-- I would, I would send him some praline candy when he got home from the hospital.
I left there and I sat in my car and cried, not because I knew he was going to die but because seeing him like that--so weak, so frail--was so difficult. However, I had faith that I'd see him again, or at least hear his voice on the phone when I returned to New York. But on March 28th, he died. And for the next few days I had trouble sleeping and I remember being in a state of shock--a constant and perpetual state of shock. I remember feeling that if I had known it would be my last time, I would have said somethings differently. I would have hugged him little bit longer. I would have lingered a little bit longer. I would have gotten those pralines right away and brought them to the hospital before my flight. I laid in bed in a state of constant shock and called my mom, weeping uncontrollably. That's grief--that's what grief does to you. That's what coming to terms with a new reality does to you.
Over the past couple of weeks I found myself in a similar state of shock, coming to terms with a new reality in this season of my life. Throughout 2017 and into 2018, there were many of these shock-like moments, but I had ways of coping with the grief. Amidst fearfully stepping the into new seasons in my ministry (most notably, preaching), there were beautiful and comforting moments like movie dates and vacations, Christmas and Thanksgiving with family, that countered the uncertainty that came with my calling. But my new reality would rear its head so great in 2018, and I've spent the majority of the first week of this new year in a state of shock. The thing is, I know this feeling--I know it from 2015. So I know this is grief and I know this too shall pass, but this time feels a little harder. It's not just the loss of another person to death; it's the parting with pieces of myself--with things and people and activities that were as apart of me as my hands and feet.
I was on the phone with my mom weeping a few nights ago. I don't call her to cry often. In fact, the last time I called her to weep was the day Leo died. But I called her and she said "it's going to be okay. 'Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.'" The Message Bible puts it like this: "nights of crying give way to days of laughter." That's Psalm 30:5. I reflect on that while in this state of shock--I reflect on how God turned my mourning into dancing 3 years ago and how that same God could do it again. That is the comfort I hold onto in this grief. That is the hope I cling to in these sleepless nights and weary days. I promise to preach about that hope some day this year.
I'd like to honor the people who hold me in my states of shock, the people who remind me that my weeping will give way to joy in due time. These people keep me alive. Thank you
Listen to Aftershock by Mia Mac