When mom and I arrived home in Cleveland, LOVE greeted us at the airport. Aunt Carole arranged for her personal driver to pick us up, and he took us to Maggiano’s to pick up dinner for the evening. This was Aunt Carole’s treat, and my sign that LOVE had traveled with us to Cleveland; the season of grief would continue and God would continue to be present.
It felt good to be home; it was familiar and different from the home I’d built in Trenton. For a moment I was no longer a single woman trying to manage things on my own, instead I was a daughter and a sister. I was back in the land of my village, the home of my people, and I could let go. This was the place where I was known before I knew myself, and this was exactly the place where I needed to be.
My mom’s condo would be the next comfortable place where I would stay and it provided a welcomed respite; home felt good. The following morning I was thankful to wake up in my own bed. Kesner was still dead, but somehow the change of environment made it a little bit easier to swallow. That morning I got showered and dressed for the day, and before long there was a knock on the door with a familiar face waiting on the other side with breakfast…
It was Amanda
The title of this note is KimandAmanda. This is not a word in the english dictionary, but at one point I think it probably could have been. Our names were said together so frequently (Kim and Amanda) that It seemed to just roll off the tongue as if it were all one word. “KimandAmanda are doing this, or KimandAmanda are doing that…” It goes together like coffee and cream, try it: KimandAmanda. See??!
coffee and cream is an intentional pun because Amanda is my sister from another mother. We are Ebony and Ivory. She is my white family and our friendship is a magical one.
Amanda and I have been friends for more than half of our lives. We were two fifteen year old girls who met on the volleyball bench at Hawken school. Not only did we share an inability to play volleyball but we shared a love for creativity and life. We soon became frolicking friends. We skipped through the halls and laughed constantly. Our friendship felt like lollipops and butterflies and everything happy. We listened to the Cranberries and Noreaga, Master P and Sarah McLachlan, while joy-riding down Gates Mills BLVD in her white chevy lumina. We bought prom dresses in February, watched 90210, and cooked lobster for no reason. We had no cares in the world and we abided in our own little friendship bubble. We sang in the choir, hung out at the mall, and wrote notes to each other when we were angry. Our high school friendship was everything sweet and wonderful and we were BFF’s… We even have a friendship memory book to prove it.
But these are not the only things that made our happy friendship special. More meaningful to me was the fact that Amanda was my first friend to step into the varied dimensions of my world. As a black girl in a majority white private school, I lived in silos. There were dimensions that most of my school friends never crossed into. But Amanda was different. At such a young age, she was as interested in my world as I was in hers. She was my first white friend to worship at my all black church and she’s celebrated kwanzaa with us at Aunt Pepper’s a time or two – standing in the circle, holding hands and thanking God for her ancestors while we light the Kanara.
Hanging out with us, she’s even been pictured in the Call and Post (Cleveland’s Black Newspaper). And she visited me at Spelman on more than one occasion. As a very young person Amanda chose to have these cross-cultural experiences with me and I thought that was so cool.
Over time our friendship has matured. We don’t have to be happy all of the time and life is not always filled with bubbles and jelly beans. We have both experienced challenge and change but our love for one another remains the same. Rather than call her BFF, today I call Amanda my family. She is family to us. And by us I mean all of the Copeland’s. Literally. I can’t make plans with Amanda now without my brothers being involved. Her pictures hang beside ours in my mom’s den.
Amanda is a big part of home for me, and I love her dearly. She is a part of my family.
She is the kind of friend that comes out in the snow to bring you a cupcake. The one with whom you love to paint your nails. The friend that sends cards and relaxing bath gels when you’re sad. The kind of friend that makes you a mix cd to brighten your day. And the friend that tells you to “put on your big girl panties” when you’re faced with life challenges that you’d rather not deal with.
Amanda is the friend who gives you back the silver flower ring that you gave to her six years ago, and tells you to wear it “…now that it has been loved.” And, likewise, she is the friend that shows up at your door after your boyfriend dies, with breakfast from Yours Truly.
And that is exactly what she did.
We sat together at my mother’s dining room table and talked calmly while we ate our breakfast. She had been waiting for me to come home, wanting to see me and talk in person. She told me that she had asked her dad (who is a doctor) about what happened to Kesner. “It could have been a myriad of things,” he told her.
Diabetes is complicated.
This was around the time that I was beginning to try to put the pieces together also. Everyone had been passing that viscous story around that Kesner did this deliberately, that he wasn’t taking his insulin. That preacher from the funeral had even accused Kesner of this. I just knew that couldn’t be it;I saw him take his shots. It had to be something else…
A heart attack, I thought. That’s got to be it.
I saw vomit on the bathroom floor on the day that I found him. And I remembered that he was warm and his heart was beating really quickly on the saturday before he died.
I bet he had a heart attack, I thought.
This began the inquiry phase. Over the next few months I would need to diagnose him; to know exactly what happened. Diabetes is complicated and it sets a bunch of things out of whack. Maybe it wasn’t his sugar after all…
No, I thought.
In that moment, as I sat with my friend at the table discussing matters of death and diabetes, I decided it was a heart attack that killed my Kesner.
© Copyright Thank You Very Sweet, 2011