The Ghost from Juneteenth Past
Trigger warning If someone you or someone you know has struggled with suicidal ideations or attempts, this content is not for you to read! Please, seek help! “Today, “988” is the three-digit, nationwide phone number to connect directly to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. By calling or texting 988, you’ll connect with mental health professionals with the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Veterans can press “1” after dialing 988 to connect directly to the Veterans Crisis Lifeline which serves our nation’s Veterans, service members, National Guard and Reserve members, and those who support them. For texts, Veterans should continue to text the Veterans Crisis Lifeline short code: 838255.”
When you hear the phrase “Juneteenth” what comes to mind? Honestly, for some, nothing comes to mind of significance. Then there are others who revere and celebrate this day. According to Wikipedia, “Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day and Cel-Liberation Day, is an American holiday celebrated on June 19. On June 19, 1865, the Emancipation Proclamation— which had been issued on January 1, 1863— was read to enslaved African Americans in Texas by Gordon Granger. That is a HUGE deal! For me, I celebrate knowing what it means to my son, my nephews, and those I love…however, this day is also a dark day for me, personally.
Loss and Grief
On June 19th, my friend passed away. She was a firecracker. LA was loud and her laugh could radiate throughout a room. She loved her kids fiercely and she was a fighter! LA was loved by so many yet didn’t feel that love at times. She struggled with guilt and addiction. My friend loved Jesus, her dad’s mini pecan pies, her children, dogs, rabbits, and that smelly turtle she had in a tank. I loved her so very much.
Grief ebbs and flows. For a while, you are so thick in grief that you can hardly breath. Then, you find out how to live life again but the nightmares come in and rock you to your core. Lately, it has been fleeting memories where I can smile and the nightmares having subsided…for the most part.
The Ghost of Juneteenth
Today, while I was at work, I headed into the clinic and I see all these beautiful smiling faces. I have come to love these faces. They are full of joy, hope, some sadness, and lots of grit and determination. As I was looking around seeing who I would snag first, my eyes landed on a new person.
I caught myself inhaling sharply as I glanced over and saw hot pink from head to toe. The hair, the eyes, the clothes, the voice was all LA. I swallowed hard and took a seat next to a familiar face while I gathered myself. From that point, I took the bull by the horns and did not make eye contact LOL.
My rounds were done, I had checked on all those I had intended and there was one left. I pulled her aside and said come on. She hopped to it, all smiles and chatting along as we walked outside to the fresh air. We headed into the office and I sat, mostly silent, throughout the time we had.
Towards the end, I could feel myself choking up and having an overwhelming sense of love and protection for this person. Quickly, I just let it slide and I got up to open the door. About that time, she hugged me so tightly and in that moment, we both sobbed. She couldn’t control her sobs and I let mine flow.
In that Moment
That very moment, I flashed back to the slab my friend was laying on as I was wiping the dirt off of her body. I was brushing/braiding her hair and talking to her telling her how worthy she was and how loved she was by so many people. That moment, on June 19th, 2018, I was tending to her body to prepare her for her mother, brother, and children to see for the last time.
Today, in that room, I felt like I was hugging her, weeping for her and with her, sharing with her that she is worthy and loved. I wanted to hug her for so much longer! I wanted to talk to her and let her know about her children and grandchildren but I remembered this was not my LA.
The Lord has stirred up my grief and this is something I am going to have to deal with for the next month. In that month, I pray that He will heal my mind and my heart. I pray that He will comfort her children, brother, and grandchildren. In that month, I pray that I can make a difference in this person’s life.
LA, I loved you fiercely in life and I love you now. I am so sorry that you were alone and felt unloved in those final moments. I can close my eyes and see your smile. The smell in your hair, your fresh tattoo, and the smell of your detergent on your clothes. I can still hear the voices of your children, mom, and brother on that day. They loved you so much and still do. I want you to know that you are worthy, loved, and the world was better with you in it!