In the months after Kesner died, I struggled over whether or not to keep Kesner’s phone number in my phone. We weren’t broken up. We weren’t finished. Wasn’t he still my man? even though he was dead? My emotions were jumbled and confused. We weren’t over.
I spoke to my counselor, Monica, about it. She told me that I didn’t have to erase his number if I wasn’t ready. She even suggested that I give him a call or send him a text message if I needed to. So I started with the texts. Every once and a while I would send a text:
Hey boo. Love you. Miss you. Thinking of you. Love you. Love you.
Well one Thursday afternoon in October, I got a call back from Kesner’s phone number. My heart stopped when I saw : ‘Kesner Calling.’ I answered. It was a man. He asked me to please stop texting “I love you” to his son.
The phone company has given his number away.
“Sorry, that’s my boyfriend’s old number, he’s dead.”
Thankfully this all happened as I was pulling up at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square; I was there to meet my mother, The Comforter. When I walked into the hotel room she was laying on the bed wearing a white fluffy robe taking a “nap.” She looked cute; she was only half sleeping. I didn’t tell her about the text thing right away but I did start to tear up. She said “I know, this really sucks.”
She went on to tell me how she had just had a good cry for herself. She was looking forward to being in the next mom season; the season where you are planning a wedding with your daughter. And she waslooking forward to grandchildren. She was grieving the season that we were so close to and now felt so far from. She said, “I know you’re sad, but can we talk about me right now?” that made me laugh.
I love my mom.
That night we went to the ELC dinner at the Hilton. The ELC (Executive Leadership Council) is a group of the top 300 black corporate executives in the US. The dinner was fabulous and Klay joined us. We had a nice time together.
After the dinner my mom and I had chocolate martinis at the Marriott. We talked more and I finally told her about the text thing. She was troubled that I was still texting his phone, but she tried not to show it. She said “I’m so proud of you. you’re so strong. I’m so proud of you, baby…”
I know it pained her to see me that way; I’d shaved my head by this time…
My mom went on to say another thing. She said: “There is someone out there for you, baby, and I think he’s at Rutgers. Be open.” I told her about this guy that I always see in the library; the second year law student. He seems.. different. He’s really nice to the librarian, Phyllis. I like Phyllis. And I like that he treats her well. But that’s it. ‘I’m so clearly not ready,’ I said. My mom agreed.
But I miss being in love. It wasn’t over between Kesner and me, and I miss love. I want to give and receive love. I feel like I’ve learned new lessons about love; Kesner taught me so many. And I’ve learned even more in this season of loss. I have done a lot of reflecting; I’ve taken inventory of my shortcomings.
How could I have loved differently? More freely? Without pride?
I feel like I’m being prepared for the incredible love that I will share with my husband; the father of our children. There is part of me that wants to get started right away; I want to love in the new accepting and patient way that I have learned. But the other part of me knows that I will have to wait. I’m not ready. And he (whoever he is) may not be ready either.
Sometimes I think about who this special guy might be, the love of myfuture. Is he reading this post right now? I get excited thinking about how incredible he is. He is creative and sensitive. He is forgiving and patient. He is wonderfully complicated; my complexity matches his. I love him already. And our children that we will raise together. I love them also.
Thinking about all of these things had my emotions all balled up that week. By the time I got to church on that Sunday morning I was an emotional train wreck. Lynn preached about the four men who lifted the roof off of a house to lower their friend to see Jesus.
Jesus was preaching in a house. There was a man who was paralyzed and needed a healing. Four of his friends brought him to Jesus on a mat, hoping that Jesus would heal him. When they arrived there were too many people around, so they dug a hole through the roof and lowered the man in from above. “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man: your sins are forgiven…pick up your mat and walk.” The man was no longer paralyzed and he picked up his mat and walked home. He was healed.
Lynn talked about the kind of determination it takes to tear the roof off of a house to get to Jesus. She talked about the faith of those friends that dug and dug and pulled a roof apart with their bare hands to bring their paralyzed friend to Jesus (the roof was probably made with mud and clay).
I cried and cried as I listened to her sermon. I was that man; that paralyzed friend. And my friends, and my mom, and my brother, Michael; they were digging. Whether they knew it or not, whether it was intentional or not; they are the ones who have been carrying me to Jesus.
I had two emotion-filled conversations after church that day; one with Laura and one with Andy. Laura is a massage therapist and she’d wanted to give me a massage for the past few months. Massage is one of her spiritual gifts and she is open about her faith in her work. I was already planning to have that massage after church that day, and I was so thankful because I really needed it. She followed me home and we talked as she was setting up the table. I cried and shared many thoughts with her. She told me about a book “Embraced By the Light” which she subsequently loaned to me to read. Then she gave me the best massage I’ve ever had. I am usually not a massage ‘table talker,’ but we talked the entire time. We talked about deep and meaningful things. On the table, I felt like the paralytic receiving a healing – yet another one. I was so thankful when she was finished. It was time for me to pick up my mat and walk. As soon as she left, I immediately returned to telling my story…
It was morning of the third day; the third day after Kesner died, Friday. My mom and I were sitting on opposite couches in the living room at the country house. Everyone was gone. Klay, Andrea and Monet left early to return to New York. It was pretty depressing. Just mom and me. I wasn’t saying much and I could tell that my mom was hurting to see me this way. The only interesting moments were when she would get a phone call.
when mom would get a call, I would just sit and watch her. I would listen to her end of the conversation:
“yeah”…. “not so good” …. “thank you, please keep us in your prayers.” …”he was an incredible young man, and he loved my child.”
But beyond the phone calls, we were just sitting there looking at each other. Both of us realized that we needed some more energy in the house. People.
Around that time, Klay sent a text message to my mom. He said that he’d made it safely back to New York but he was willing to come back to Hopewell if we wanted him to. Mom and I said “yes, please come back… and bring Gayle with you.” We also gave a call to Talithea. She was coming as well and she was going to bring TJ.
And then a text came in: “Hey Sis, I’m on my way. Been trying to get to you but I had Chemo yesterday. I had to wait to build up my energy.” It was…
Qiyana. My sister. My line sister in Delta Sigma Theta. Qiyana was trying to get…. to me? That’s the sort of thing that gives you pause. Qiyana has cancer.
When you’re grieving you can become very selfish. Self absorbed. But when someone leaves Chemo Therapy to come see you and spend time with you in your grief, you have no choice but to step outside of yourself for a moment. Obviously you can see how I feel about cancer. More about that in the next chapter…
So company was coming. Talithea and TJ, Gayle and Klay, and Qiyana. We would also have two more surprise visitors before the night ended. We had people to look forward to.
It was lunch time by now. While we waited for our company to arrive, mom suggested that we walk around the town of Hopewell and get something to eat. We went to a café in town. Mom ordered me a bowl of pea soup. It just sat there. I wasn’t eating.
There were two women sitting at a table close by. It was clear that they were gossiping. They really made me angry. I wanted to walk up to them and flip over their table. I wanted to tell them how stupid their conversation was and how precious life is. But I didn’t have the energy. or the will. Instead I just sat there in contempt.
Refusing to eat.
And then I looked again. The waiter had brought them the most decadent looking piece of chocolate cake. It was beautiful and yummy looking.
That piece of cake would be just the sort of thing that Kesner would have wanted to eat but wouldn’t have been able to eat. He had diabetes. He had to watch his sugar. In that moment I decided that whenever I did start eating again, I was going to enjoy sweets. I was going to enjoy them for the rest of my life… for Kesner.
© Copyright Thank You Very Sweet, 2011