The Links Incorporated is one of the largest and oldest volunteer service organizations of African American Women in the country. .
It was founded in Philadelphia in 1946 as a group of friends linked together in service to their communities. It has since grown to have a global attitude, providing impacting programming around the world. The membership is dynamic, and the conventions provide wonderful venues to gather, reconnect, learn and celebrate the outstanding work of the chapters. Conventions are where we conduct the official business of the organization..
And also where we have a simply fabulous time, Linking.
It did not take long to get into the flow. Our first days at the conference hotel, Monday and Tuesday, were chill days; but by Wednesday things picked up. This was the day of our Scott Hawkins graduation. After two years of retreats, webinars and case study assignments, our cohort was finally graduating. We were named the “loving cohort” and we had a sweet commencement over a lunch in the hotel sponsored by FeDex.
With all of the LOVE flowing in our Scott Hawkins session, my only goal was to make it out without opening a flood gate of tears. The mission was almost complete when one of my Scott Hawkins sisters gave a tearful thank you to everyone who’d supported her when her mother passed months earlier: “..and just like everyone was there for me, we are here for you too Link Kimberley..“.
Open flood gates.
I had to get out of there. Once the tears started they were difficult to stop. The hotel was like a maze, but Monique and I made it back to Home Base and my childhood friend, Maya, joined us for a visit. Maya is a member of the Richmond VA Chapter and she is a writer, editor, and wife of famed college basketball coach, Shaka Smart.
Maya asked me about Kesner and it was a comfort to talk about him to her. I told her that I was interested in writing a book. She thought that was a good idea and said that she would introduce me to a friend who’d recently been published…
Just then, Glitter Pop surprised us and popped into the room with a high pitched:
Mom had asked Gayle (Glitter Pop) to stay in the room with me and be my chaperon for the week; this was because I’d developed the tendency of wandering off to be alone with Kesner and nature. Glitter Pop was happy to do it and I was happy to see her. ……………………………………………..That night we went to a welcome party at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. It was there that I saw my God Mother, Marcella. Marcella is a philanthropist from DC and she is a beautiful person. We’d met and developed a spirit connection on a trip to South Africa in 2007. I’d been wanting to see her and talk to her. We stole away to a corner of the room and talked. She wanted to know everything about Kesner and I told her.
“What did he call you, Kim?” She asked.
“He called me Brown Eyes and Beautiful and PYT and Phenomenal Woman, and Sweetheart, and Babe, and Darlin’ and Wisdom…”
“You’re so blessed Kim. Most people don’t get to experience love like that. Dancing in the park?..”
The convention would continue to be filled with memorable moments; I was overwhelmed with support and love. Everybody knew. I couldn’t walk through the lobby without Link Sisters stopping me to tell me how sorry they were for my loss. So many women had experienced tragedy in their young lives and they wanted to tell me about it, to encourage me. They wanted to tell me that there is light at the end of dark tunnels. One woman’s husband and new born baby were killed in a crash, another lost her husband just ten months after they were married.
They were so beautiful. So strong. so resilient.
And then I shared a special moment one night with my aunt Gretel. Ten years earlier her daughter and my God Sister died in a tragic car accident. I was a sophomore at Spelman at the time and it was horrible. Her name was Heather and I loved her with my whole heart. Sitting alone on the couch with Aunt Gretel, I asked her if she thought that Heather ever came to visit.
”I believe she does come to visit, and when she visits she’d like to see us doing well…”
She went on to tell me that I was a survivor. My twenties had been bookended by two significant deaths: Heather at age 20 and Kesner at age 30.
I thought to myself: ‘hmmm, she’s right. I sure hope it gets better from here…‘
© Copyright Thank You Very Sweet, 2011