“It will get better”

Fred Duerson’s granddaughter, Imani Tuck, and her Hampton University Concert Choir singing “Close to Thee” in Washington, D.C.     

My friend Gayle White is one of the smartest, most talented writers I know. She posted this on her Facebook page recently, for those of us who have lost loved ones. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of my father, who succumbed to  lung cancer in August. I miss his encouraging text messages which often included scriptures, I miss talking to him about politics, about sports, about the family we love so dear. I know my father was at peace with everything that happened to him in the last 18 months. He never stopped leading and ministering to his family, even as he faced a diagnosis of terminal cancer. We’ve lost other friends too, in the last two years — Bernard Charles McNair Jr., a dear friend and neighbor; Mable Jean Lockhart, our wonderful first lady; and Pauline Knight Ofosu, a wise, blessed woman.  We remember them with warm thoughts at the holidays at and always.

Gayle’s post gave me hope, so I’m sharing it here.

A deeply personal message to my friends who have lost someone special since last Christmas: You may be absolutely miserable and feel stabbed a thousand times as big and small memories flow in. You have to get through Christmas just as you got through visitation, memorial service, and the rituals of death. Once you’ve made it, a major hurdle will be behind you. The Christmas day after Bob died was the worst day of my life, worse even than the day he died. The family tried to practice enough false merriment to propel us forward but the seconds dragged by. At the end of the day I felt as if I’d completed a huge obstacle course. Each year since then has become brighter and I truly love the story, the tree, the music, the anticipation, the generosity of the season. So, please know that you are in a valley right now but you will work your way out. And know that many people who have faced what you’re going through are thinking about and praying for you this year. With love, Gayle.

After Gayle posted her note, Mike King — another friend and former colleague, posted this response:

Exactly! Thanks for sharing. The light indeed returns, slowly, with subsequent holidays — especially when you are surrounded by your loved ones. But the first is indeed an endurance contest, despite the best efforts of friends and family. It WILL get better.

 

The hate that hate produced

Dylann Roof epitomizes the phrase. He is hatred personified;  wrapped in a scrawny 22-year-old body. He is deranged. His trial is a farce which seeks  to answer one question: will the state execute a man who murdered nine people inside an African-American church in Charleston, S.C.?

In Roof’s crazed mind, he had to do it. Someone had to stop the terrible black people who were raping and murdering white people. “Our people are superior,” he told investigators.

He chose a church to carry out his carnage. I’ll never understand it. Never accept it.

The scenes out of the trial have been chilling. Video showing Rev. Clementa Pinckney welcoming people into  Mother Emanuel  AME Church. Video of Roof coming into the church, where dozens of faithful parishioners had gathered for Bible study last year. Their final act?  Welcoming a stranger armed with a Glock 45, who told police that his victims should have seen the gun because it was so big.

Roof sat in the church for 15 minutes, contemplating murder.  As those gathered in the historic church studied the word of God, Roof worried about his gun jamming.

Make no mistake, he is the hate that hate produced. If you think hate speech is harmless, I give you Dylann Roof. If you think you can play fast and loose with code words and it not have consequences, look no further than him.

He is pure evil.   As the state decides his fate, let’s remember the people who died as a result of his cowardly act. They were mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, ministers, retirees. They left behind broken loved ones. They are the victims of misguided racial hatred that is as old as time.