My mom and I are now again embarking on a new normal.
I lost my dad at 17 years old and now at 34, I have lost my only sister. Honestly, I still don’t think it has hit me yet that she is gone.
I started to reflect heavily on our life together.
- Watching cartoons in our PJs.
- Building tents inside the house and living in them days at a time.
- Playing with Barbies life-size G.I. Joe action figures together.
- Making crazy songs on our mini recorder.
- Having Jarian, Reese (R.I.P.), Courtney, Cassidy, Tiffany, Aris, Pamela, Leslie, Chris, and others spend countless days/hours over at our house because our spot was the place to be.
- How you and all your friends now permanently call me Doodie because of my “stellar” performance in Grease.
- Just laughing while watching classic horror movies.
Goodness, I could go on and on with the memories…and I will in my heart and mind. Although you were my little sister, I always looked up to you as if you were my big sister. You always hit life milestones before I did and I was always jealous.
- You learned how to ride a bike before I did.
- You learned how to swim before I did. Well…I’m still somewhat catching up to you on that one.
- You had a girlfriend before I did ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
- You learned how to drive before I did.
- You had a drink before I did…wait, I thought I was the older one…oh yeah, I waited until I was 21 before having my first drink.
You attacked life with reckless abandon…and I admired you for that. I needed some of that initiative and the little that I did have most definitely came from you.
The last time I saw my sister was this past Easter. She and my mom came up to visit the family in Austin. She looked well – better than I had seen her in quite a while. I was also encouraged by the fact that she was exercising, starting a business, and in a committed relationship. It was a good last impression of someone who has had her ups and downs in life, but was actively changing the trajectory of where it was going. But on May 25th, I knew that what you aspired to accomplish would never come to fruition.
Once word of her death had spread, I began to hear from people I haven’t talked to in 25+ years. One thing death does is bring people closer together. If only temporarily, death brings a perspective on what is mostly important – relationships. Your relationship with God and with other people. I take the relationship I have with many of my friends and family members more seriously now because tomorrow isn’t promised. My relationship with God comes into better focus because I know my time is limited before I am with Him – I want to be the best steward of what He has entrusted me with while I am here.
I said this about Lakeshia during the homegoing celebration:
Keisha’s two nephews won’t remember her, for they are only 4 years and 15 months respectively, so I’ve been thinking about what I will tell them regarding “auntie L”. There’s so much I could share, but I will tell them about some of the final impressions I had of my sister. For example, the fact that instead of celebrating this past Christmas holiday season with family and friends, she selflessly decided to travel to central Texas to assist the mother of a gravely ill friend of hers. That’s the Keisha I’ll choose to remember.
Despite all her struggles, Keisha had a great heart. She desperately wanted change the trajectory of her life and she talked to me recently about her plans to do just that. But, as I said on Facebook, God had a greater plan for her. He wanted her there with Him and I have great confidence that is where she is. And that confidence is not based off of what Keisha did or failed to do in her 33 years on this earth, but rather what someone else did do in His 33 years on this earth. And that reality not only speaks to Lakeshia’s life, but to my own and everyone in here. Among other things, Keisha’s death made me begin to confront my own mortality and the fact that none of us have to be 70+ years old in order for death to come knocking on our door.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 says:
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
I grieve, but I do not grieve as if I did not have hope because if I died right now at 34 I know that my life is secure in Jesus. Do you have that same hope? Our tomorrow is not guaranteed, but our security in heaven is through believing in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I gave my life to him right after my father passed away 17 years ago. As life has come full circle with my sister’s death, I know the same transformation that has occurred in my life can happen to any and all of you. Because I know for sure, life can and does happen as a result of death. Amen.
Love you, Keisha.
I barely got it out and though written down, it came from the heart.
I want to thank everyone who has provided their sympathy through letters, Facebook/slack messages, phone calls, texts, visits, gifts, a kind word, prayers, and your presence. Our family was able to endure this tragic situation a little easier because we are blessed with family and friends like you. Thank you all of those who donated through GoFundMe. Anything that was given has indeed lessened the blow of suddenly carrying the financial burden of costs associated with the death of a loved one. Thank you to Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, who orchestrated a beautiful homegoing ceremony for my sister on short notice.
I want to thank my job Automattic for donating to American Cancer Society on behalf of Keisha. I know that if she had the resources, this is a cause she would’ve donated to because dad succumbed to cancer. To my co-workers: I love you guys. The outpour of love and support is overwhelming. To my groomsmen: thank you all for supporting me through this. Having you all there almost made me lose it. I chose well – it is an honor to walk through the highs and lows of life with you all and rest assured I would be there for you all as well. To my wife Lacey, who put her grieving aside to take care of the kids while I went down to Houston for two weeks – I love you. To my family. I love you all and we’ll get through this together. Thank you for being present in such a tough time.
In light of this, I will live for Christ with more fervor. I will love and serve others with more compassion. I will sacrifice my life more willingly so that others can have theirs. I will die to myself daily because….I still can.
It will be tough, but as I was living life for dad, I now live it for you as well, Keisha. I’ll take care of mom, I won’t let either of you down. Love you.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. ~Romans 8:28