Lately, writing has been somewhat overwhelming. Not in the recording of the words, but in the ability to successfully transcribe them from my mind on to paper. Today is no different, but the memory of my friend Lucinda Self haunts the halls of my thoughts. I miss her.
My friendship with Lucinda is one of the mysteries of my life. Nothing about her should have meshed with me. But it did. She was intelligent but homegrown; schooled by the experiences of a less than perfect childhood. She could hold her own in conversations with schooled, unschooled. Liberal and Conservatives. Male and females.
She had an uncanny knack for seeming to float when she walked. Which few big women are able to accomplish. I know of few heavy women capable of such grace. My Auntie Curly Mason, Mother Phillip Porter I, and Lucinda. People truly liked Cindy. That smile and her kindness could be disarming.
I was assigned the desk located in front of her desk. I can’t remember when but we begin to form a fellowship. Giggling about the same moments and eventually sharing tidbits of our lives. I discovered painful memories of the father she felt had abandoned her while prattling on one day about the comfort that I knew from the Lord. How GOD had balanced out the unevenness that came with my upbringing. I turned to emphasize what I was saying to discover tears rolling down her cheeks. Without thinking I went back to her seat and wrapped my arms around her.
Kindness and honesty are such prerequisites when being with others. You can never know, fully know, the burden of another person’s heart. But years after her death at 42; I remain blessed by her presence in my life. And in my heart. Lucinda is the best friend I have ever had. The older sister I had never experienced. A meshing of hearts that defied all social idioms, age, economics, education, beliefs, physical size, and race.
One day while training Lucinda fell fatally ill. She complained of a persistent headache that had ridden her for three days. We had just returned after a holiday weekend, I believe Memorial day. Our Department Supervisor had taken more time off, and I insisted that she go into his office and try to sleep. She did for around two hours and then returned to my training. I was to cover her desk during an extended vacation she had planned with her husband, Steve.
Though I was already acting as her back up and support, Cindy wanted to be sure I could perform all the work in her absence. So, I worked by her side as she watched and offered suggestions. I knew that her headache had only abated but not ended as I had hoped. Suddenly she leaned forward her head in her hands and said, “I think I just had a stroke.”
Looking into her flushed face I insisted. My mother had suffered strokes I told her; “but you look too pretty and healthy, I don’t think you have had a stroke!” Suddenly rising from her seat she declared she was going to be sick and rushed out to the Ladies restroom down the hall.
Because it was about 3:30 p.m., and time to pick my Kassie up from school. I rushed to our assistant Supervisor and told her Cindy was sick in the bathroom but I needed to leave.
When I returned and had settled Kassie in our lobby to wait until 5 pm, I returned to our office to discover Lucinda had been rushed by ambulance to the hospital. After work, I found where she was located and made my way there. I had been told by the assistant supervisor that Cindy’s husband was discouraging visitors, but I was confident that it did not apply to me and so I went.
It was at the hospital I would discover that she was in ICU; the plant I had brought was confiscated at the nurse’s desk. True enough when I entered the room I saw irritation flash briefly across her husband’s face.
He updated me in muted tones about her condition. In the bed, my friend’s body thrashed and flipped back and forth. Steve explained that she was in pain and could not find a position of comfort. We set silent, witnesses to the despair.
I did not linger as I did not want to add to her discomfort or his. He had told us she would not want to be seen in her condition. I had almost exited the room when I turned back and asked if I could hold her hand for a moment. He agreed.
As I held her hand I begin to silently pray. And as I prayed Lucinda’s thrashing subsided and then ended. As if she was listening to the words of my petition to GOD. After my prayer ended, my friend’s body still and quiet. I left the room. I would never see her alive again. Two days later her husband called and told the Supervisor she had passed.
Unbeknownst to me; her death would be a catalyst in my life. But that’s another story for another time. Today, I just want to honor the gift of her life to me. I want to testify to the amazing union between me and my sister who came via a different father and mother. Thank you, Lord; I really needed that!