Saturday, March 17, 2012

Weekend of emotional extremes

What a weekend of emotional extremes.
It awes me sometimes that the heart can experience both joy and grief simultaneously and not explode. That's where my heart is this weekend. Both emotions were invitations to celebrate life. And that I did.

On Friday after work, I jumped into the car and zoomed to Franklin, Tenn., for my friend Kristen's birthday. Here's the catch: she didn't know I was coming. I had been scheming with her family behind her back and I enjoyed every minute of it. She's like my little sister and I wanted to love on her a bit.

The look on her face was priceless when she opened the front door and saw me standing there. Heh. After several rounds of squeals and hugs, Kristen, her parents, sister and I went to Bonefish Grill to celebrate.

After dinner and dessert, we took the party back to their house for dessert No. 2, a homemade birthday cake. (lemon cake with lemon frosting. No, we didn't drink lemonade with it.)

Everyone went to bed and Kristen and I hung out for a bit, alternately watching funny YouTube videos and chatting.

Less than 12 hours later, after a quick breakfast with Kristen and her parents, I headed south to Fayetteville, Tenn., for the funeral of a friend. This, too, was a celebration of life but gosh, it was so hard. David died unexpectedly Wednesday at age 49. This hurt.

David's family has been my family these nine years I've lived in Tennessee. His sister Amy was my church youth leader and mentor when I was in high school in New York City. She and I met in 1997. She was the one who taught me what it meant to be a woman of integrity and what it looked like to live it out.

When I moved to Knoxville in 2003, Amy was one of the first people I called. (By this time, she and most of her family -- parents, siblings, in-laws, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, etc. -- were living in Fayetteville.) I didn't really know anybody in Knoxville so I went to Fayetteville for a weekend that first month. I've been going several times a year since then.

(Amy's home is the one place outside of East Tennessee that I know how to get to without having to look at driving directions.)

Her family and I have done life together. We've celebrated weddings, babies, anniversaries and birthdays together. We've also walked through hard heart and family stuff together. Sometimes, I showed up just to hang out.

(An aside: Fayetteville is the only place where I've seen an active Piggly Wiggly. Talk about hardcore Americana.)

David (pictured above with his sweet daughter Melissa) was a truck driver. He would call me on occasion when he was passing through Knoxville. We promised each other we would do lunch or dinner when he came through town but we never could work it out.

There were many tears today and will be for a while. But there was also joy and laughter as we shared stories about his antics, his passion for cars and the way David tangibly loved people. And there was hope -- hope that we will see him again. David knew the One who gave his life in order to make reconciliation and relationship possible between men/women and God.

I am exhausted. But I am excited about tomorrow and its adventures. Whatever is in it, I want to live it well.


  1. Lola, this has been a weekend of extremes for sure! I am so sorry for your loss and for the grief his family is going through. --Mama Lloyd

  2. What a beautiful post, my friend. My heart hurts for yours as you say goodbye to a dear friend, but it also celebrates the hope we have in Christ.

  3. My dearest Omalola... That was BEAUTIFUL! I want to read that to my parents. You are part of our family, and we were so glad you were able to come. Thank you for loving us and being our friend. We are all better people for knowing you. Come back soon, heck, move here! :)