Friday, February 24, 2012


In 2009 my beloved grandmother battled her way back from severe pneumonia, proving that some doctors don't always know what they're talking about.  After days in intensive care, she and death butted heads and death turned tail and ran in the opposite direction.  That time wasn't her time, the old bird proving that a fighting spirit can surpass the insurmountable. 

Sadly, death came back for a second try and this time he won.  Yesterday, the old woman took her last breath shortly after midnight as I sat by her bedside, holding tight to her hand.  Although I called myself prepared for the inevitable, I was ill-prepared to wish my dear granny goodbye.  And despite the depths of my faith, God's will was clearly not my will.

My heart is broken now that she is gone and I have to wonder if it will ever again be whole.  Next week we will celebrate her life and wish her a final farewell.  And although my beloved grandmother could be a prickly pain in my left cheek, I would give anything to hold my grandma's hands just one more time.

Rest in peace, Mama.
Susie Musethel Fletcher Cole
March 5, 1921 - February 23, 2012

Sunday, February 19, 2012


This past Thursday I arrived at the nursing home to find my grandmother a semblance of her usual self.  She has been hospitalized ever since, our family sitting in anxious vigil by her bedside.
On Friday morning, a compassionate emergency room physician sat toe to toe with my father and gently told him that our matriarch was dying.  He warned that with her rapidly failing health there would be some difficult decisions that would have to soon be made.  In that moment I instinctively knew that despite our mutual concerns for our loved one, we would be a family at odds over those decisions.
Despite my continuous struggles with my faith, when it comes to death I have always trusted that God knows best.  Even as a little girl, the prospect of death did not scare me and mostly because my beloved grandmother too frequently intoned how blessed we would all be on the other side.  I can still envision those promises of an eternal Eden and even now I believe that she herself trusts in that as her wakeful moments are spent beseeching her “sweet Jesus” to come for her. 
Since Friday I have slept in the hospital each night and only a few times has she known who I was.  Last night, after calling me by her late sister’s name for over three hours, she woke from a restful sleep and questioned what took me so long to come.  I had to smile as I told her that I had never left her side and would be there until she was ready to go home.  She nodded and told me how much she was hurting as she cried over and over for Jesus to come help her.  She told me she was tired, and I understood that even though we might not be, that she was ready for whatever might come.  I held her hand and squeezed it tight, and told her that everything would soon be fine.  Then she called me by my name and asked me to scratch the hurt out of her head.
In that moment I could no longer hold back my tears.  I was suddenly reminded of how, as a little girl, my grandmother would scratch my scalp whenever I felt bad, intoning that a good head scratching could take the hurt of anything away.  There was overwhelming comfort as I sat on the floor between her thighs, my arms wrapped tightly around her legs as she meticulously parted my hair, gently oiled my scalp, then braided love back into the loose strands.  We bonded in those quiet moments, that time together all our own as we lost ourselves in conversation.  So, in the wee hours of the morning, tears streaming down my cheeks, I scratched my granny’s scalp, remembering how she had once scratched mine. 
My family and I continue to sit vigil, still at odds over what should happen next.  None of us want to lose her, but not all are trusting, believing instead that the most intrusive procedures might inevitably do what God will not. 
There are no words for the bond between me and my grandmother.  My love for her is immense, the old woman occupying every square inch of my heart.  Since I was a little girl she has trusted me with secrets that I will take to my grave, where I know that she will carry mine.  I have done the unimaginable for my grandmother, very few others coming close to moving my spirit as she has. 
And now, when she doesn’t know that I am there or even remember my name, all that I can do is hope and pray that a plastic comb and a gentle touch will bring her a semblance of comfort and help scratch her hurt away.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Yesterday I watched a young friend who was struggling with what to do for the new love interest in his life.  His female friends were bombarding him with more ideas than he could comprehend.  As he stood in line at the mall, having selected what everyone else perceived was the perfect gift for his girl, he suddenly had a change of heart.  Nothing about the gift reflected who he was and what he stood for.  Nor did it speak to the relationship he had and was wanting with his companion.  He asked for advice and I told him to keep it simple.   I reminded him that it was more about them being together, sharing time and space, and capturing memories that would last her a lifetime, whether they remained partners or not.
One of my most memorable Valentine’s Days was my high school honey who convinced me to skip Spanish class and steal away early from school.  He’d packed a picnic lunch (turkey sandwiches, Cheetos, brownies, and bottles of coca cola).  We spent the afternoon at the beach, our butts plastered with damp sand, the one blanket he’d bought wrapped around our shoulders to ward off the cold temperature as we sat staring out over Long Island Sound.  They were the best sandwiches and brownies I’d ever tasted and to this day, Cheetos are one of my favorite feel good snacks.  We talked and laughed and had a great time and his simple gesture made me feel immensely special.
This year, Valentine’s Day came a few days early for me, with a life-changing proposition that I just had to say YES to.  So being in such a very special frame of mind on such a very special day means even more than those turkey sandwiches and Cheetos.  I’m on a path of establishing a wealth of memories that will surely last me and mine a lifetime.
This Valentine’s Day go make memories.  And know that those memories don’t have to be about any one man or woman.  Those memories should always be about an expression of love for anyone who has managed to occupy a place in your heart.
It’s Valentine’s Day.  Let everyone special in your life know how much they are loved.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


God called his Angel home today,
To lead the comeback choir.
To lift her voice in adoring praise,
And still the flames of hell's fire.
He called his Angel to his side,
Having missed her gift of song.
And now she'll sing like once before,
Having found her way back home.

Rest in peace, Whitney Houston
August 9, 1963 - February 11, 2012