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    When They Speak From The Grave

    by Angelee Coleman Grider, editor

             When you lose the “love of your life” it is sometimes devastating for some.  For others it is sad even when you expected the inevitable.  But how do you deal with emotions when you did not know they were the true love, until they “speak from the grave”? 

                We buried a classmate and friend last year. “You should have called,” was all he said, and I still feel guilty today.     I was not planning to go to the funeral, because I “just don’t do funerals” like some people in my family.  Some will go even if they don’t know the person.  That’s just what they do down South in my family. Even if they don’t go to church on Sunday morning, they will not miss anyone’s funeral.  I just did not inherit that part of hospitality.  Plus, after moving up North, I didn’t know anyone anyway.

                However, my friend died.  And, God spoke to me and said, “You must go.”  It scared the hell out of me. Not because I was called by God, but because He knew I have a downfall that I can’t remember people’s names.  Faces and features I will remember, but don’t ask me your name especially if I have not seen you in 10 years.  In this case, I would not have seen any of my classmates in 20 years, so I certainly would not recognize them.

                So, I brushed off my fear and prepared to go to the service at the church.  Timing was everything.  God told me to leave at 8:00 A.M. and make a few stops along the way.  This made my arrival perfect.  People were just beginning to gather as I found my way to the right church.  I parked where God told me to park and of course the first thing I saw were car tags with fraternity and sorority symbols.  I knew I was screwed.  But maybe not.  Maybe they were from out-of-town and I wouldn’t know them anyway.

                I entered the church, asked directions, and signed the registry where the ushers instructed me to go before the sanctuary expedition.  Taking a deep breath, of relief because I did not recognize any names, I went inside to view the body.  Gosh, he still looked good as he did 20 years ago.  As I exited the area, I deliberately did not look to my left nor my right as I heard someone sitting in his fraternity section whisper, “There’s Angelee.”  I didn’t stop, and they did not try to stop me.  Remember, I don’t remember names.  God told me to go sit in the balcony area by myself.  Then someone else decided they wanted to come sit there too and talk about designer clothes that the tailor had made incorrectly.  “Stop complaining,” I wanted to say to them, “You could be dead.”

                Anyway, as I sat alone on my row, I watched the marquee overhead projector as it beautifully displayed the life of my friend.  I thought, “Okay, that’s why God wanted me to come so I should consider becoming a funeral photographer and add that to my repertoire.”  As I read and thought I remembered the good times six of us classmates had working on the yearbook staff.  That’s when I feel in love, but I knew I was out of his league, and I didn’t think he felt the same way as I did about him.”

                Reading the obituary on the video, though I realized he never got married, became a minister, and kept dedicating his life to justice and humanity.  Reflecting, I remembered that once I was in town for the holiday.  He got my family’s number and called.  “The next time you are in town,” he said, “call me.”

                I never called.  Each time I came home, I watched him on TV crusading for some cause.  I thought, I could move back home, join his causes and become popular enough to spark growth in my career, because he knew everybody.  That was selfish though, so I didn’t call.  Then I thought, I could become 1st lady and crusade by his side, but that wouldn’t work because we both were opinionated people.  I would have to walk in his shadow.”  So, I didn’t call because he taught the six of us to never walk in shadows, but be upfront leaders.  Yet, sitting there on his memorial day, I thought “What if I missed an opportunity from God?”  As I reflected for the last time before they closed the casket, I looked up at the picture on the wall, and heard him clearly say, “You should have called.” 


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