During the Christmas holiday season, I couldn’t browse my FB feed without seeing friends rave about the show, Bridgerton, which was streaming on Netflix. Most popular comments were regarding the beauty of seeing people of color in positions of power during this period in England and oh the costumes! I’d planned to watch it but I get in moods sometimes of being tired of streaming TV series! So time consuming. Give me a 2hr movie so I can just be done.
Anyway, one Sunday I gave in to the pressure. Over the two to three days it took me to finish up, I found myself only minimally excited about what I’d seen. Definitely not planning to put the series on repeat, not even for the handsome Duke of Hastings. I try to stay positive on social media so I was comfortable keeping my thoughts to myself.
But then I came across this article someone posted in a black writer’s FB group I’m in. Her words inspired and gave me the courage to express my true thoughts on my FB page:
“I love the fact that this writer put into words the thoughts that floated around my head while trying to support Shonda Rhimes, who I have since learned didn’t create the show but is one of its producers. But the truth is I’m sick and tired of having to seeing the black girl in the show get pregnant when she’s having sex just like her white counterparts (remember that scenario from the Netflix series All American) and seeing the glorification of a black man loving a white woman (so played out). I need more stories of healthy black love and black girl excellence.
This why I write! To change the narratives of stories told about black and brown people.
On the drive to work this morning, I heard a radio host jokingly say that is December 50, 2020. He declared are us stuck in 2020 until our current president is out of office.
Hmmm. NOT SO! The current man in the oval office is not stopping the flow of my life. We are, in fact, in a new years. 2021. And, I’m super excited about it! On December 31, 2020, I announced on Facebook the upcoming release on a second anthology project that I have co-authored.
“A Resilient Widow” is a collection of stories told by women who have suffered the loss of their spouse and how they have overcome this most difficult time in life, but have learned to living resiliently and with purpose. The goal of this book is provide encouragement and hope to widows just beginning or are struggling through their own widow journey.
Pre-order information will be available later this month. The book set for release in February 2021.
I finally made my way to see the movie The Photograph, weIl after its 2/14 opening. There’s a story that I need to insert here to add some credence to how I feel about this movie. I had every intention of seeing this movie on Valentine’s Day weekend. Not with a boo or anything. I don’t have one of those. However, I had been kind of “seeing” someone for a few months. And he chose the Thursday before this movie was released to tell me we needed to see less of each other. Ain’t that some shit? SMH
I was devastated and in my feelings for entire weekend. Obviously, that was not the movie to see. I was not about to sitting up in the theater crying about what I no longer had. But I was not lost on all of the negative reviews I came across opening weekend and weeks later.
“Love Jones fail.”
“Issa Rae doesn’t do sexy well.”
“The chemistry was missing .”
“I fell asleep.”
Etc, etc, etc…
Nevertheless , I was determined to see this movie for myself. Make my own decision . Today was the day.
First of all, I only saw two similarities to Love Jones. The first being Christina being a photographer. The second being these scene with Mike’s (I think that’s Mae’s love interest name) brother and his wife that was kind of love jonsie. That’s about all the Loves Jones I got out of the movie. Oh yeah, and Mike was had a job opportunity out of town. But that was it!
More than a love story, I saw the story being more about the complexities of being a woman. Specifically, the complexities of the mother-daughter relationship. Christine wants love. She’s a woman of immense passion. But, she wants also wants a meaningful career. She wants her life to be more than bringing pleasure to her man. Can she have both becomes the question? She takes the risks that most women don’t take. Leaving the love of the man in pursuit of her greater passion—her work. Then she has this daughter to take care of. She shows her daughter love in the only way she knows how—providing for her while giving the best of herself to her work. The daughter grows up questioning the love of the mother.
As a mother of a daughter, we see so clearly the things that our daughters will encounter in their lives. They will love. They will be be loved. They will experience pain. We long to spare them of the pain. But we can’t. So we raise them to be strong, to be able to overcome all things. Somewhere in this process, the love of the mother is questioned by the daughter. The daughter will never understand until she, herself, walks in her mother’s shoes.
I didn’t really see anything special between Christina & Issac. I saw that she loved her work more than she loved Issac.
In Christina’s letter to Mae, she says she wishes she was as good at love as she was at her work. Those words penetrated my soulful because my experience is the opposite. My strength is in loving people. My family, my kids, the man in my life. So much so that I put my work—my writing—second, sometimes third or fourth. Christina’s story made me want to do something something different.
I want to know how much better my work will be if I push my work up on my list of priorities. I wonder…
The Photograph was a love story. A story of a woman loving herself. Loving her work. Loving a man. Loving her daughter. But not knowing how to love them equally, at the same time.
It wasn’t Love Jones. It wasn’t The Notebook. It was the Photograph.
The anniversary of my husband Kevin’s death, 12/18/17, feels more like a weekend event rather than one day. Because we had such an eventful weekend leading up to his death, my memory of his passing begins on the Friday before that fateful day…
In December 2017 the 15th fell on a Friday. Kevin and I are had plans to celebrate his sister’s surprise 50th birthday which was the day. I remember being at work that day and talking to my friend about possibly not going to the party. The terminal illnesses Kevin was dealing with, interstitial lung disease, caused him to be increasingly angry, resentful, and quite frankly, not pleasant to be around. For me, as his caregiver, at least. I was beginning to tire of the Kevin that Kevin became in the presence of his family. Positive, glass half-full, God is good all the time Kevin. Because with me, in the privacy of our home, I witnessed the total opposite. Full disclosure, he was often a jerk. But the expectation was for me to be with him. Not because he enjoying my company but because I was his wife, his support.
However, this day I was considering letting him go on his own and use the time with him away to enjoy some peace at home. I had a conversation with my coworker about it and she understood but she encourage me to go. And by the end of my workday I decided to do just that. Putting Kevin’s needs before my own.
I didn’t tell Kevin that I had thought about not going to the party. That would have just soured whatever mood he was in when I got home. Plus I had decided that we were going to have a good night. I was not going to press him about us being on time to the party to be apart of the surprise. He hated when I rushed him for anything. I told myself, “This is his sister’s party, and we will get there when he wants us to.” Once I relieved myself of that pressure, I was able to relax to tend to his his needs.
While Kevin prepared himself for the party, I prepared Kevin for the party. I put 8 full sized metal oxygen tanks & all five of the liquid oxygen tanks in the back seat of Kevin’s truck. We would need enough oxygen for the 35 minute ride to and from party and for the time we were at the party and anything that came up along the way. The time we had been dealing with life with supplemental oxygen we tried our best to prepared for anything.
Thankfully we made big to the party in time to yell “surprise” along with everyone else. Though kevin was physically struggling breath, I could tell he was happy. Kevin loved being around his family and his family loved to be around him. There was a lot of love between them.
If there was a prayer to be a given during a family gathering, Kevin was always the one to do it. But at this event, after taking family pictures, Kevin’s mom or sister requested prayer for Kevin. We formed a circle around him as the minister present prayed for him. When the prayer was finished Kevin had his own words to share.
“I don’t want y’all to worry about me. My God’s got me and I’m gonna be alright!”
He’d moved everyone in the room, in kid me, to tears. In that moment I couldn’t have been happy that I decided to attend the party with him. To witness the heart of a dying man who thought so much of his family to have comforting for them when he was one in greater need of comforting.
When we got home, I was in such a good mood. Kevin was too. The night had been a good one.
Thursday, August 1, 2019 marked the culmination of my first year as a graduate student of the Masters of Library Science program at Wayne State University! Only a special kind of person–or maybe a glutton for punishment–undertakes a graduate program while displaced from their permanent residence due to a house fire, adjusting to life after the passing of their spouse, taking responsibility over a rental home that deceased husband managed, and a host of other things that you’ve probably already read about on my blog. But, I did it! And quite successfully, too, I might add. 4.0 GPA first semester, 3.5 the second, and a 3.0 this current semester.
Although I did well, I put myself through a lot stress at a time in my life when I should have been relaxing as much as possible. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should do something, I advised myself.
Now, I don’t regret, at all, the decision to begin this program. I’d been contemplating it for a few years before finally applying. However, it might have been a good idea to start with one class instead of two. It took those first two semesters of talking myself out of quitting a time or two before I came to my senses and only registered for one class this last semester.
Forty-three year old LaCharmine cannot do graduate school the way twenty-five year LaCharmine did it.
Prior to the end of this semester, I told myself it was time for a break.
“Not even one class, LaCharmine,” I said to myself sternly. (I need that kind of talking to sometimes).
I need my evenings and weekends as free as they can be (given my church & sorority commitments).
I need time for writing.
I need time for reading.
I need time for getting my house how I want it.
I need time for dating. (Yes, I said it. Dating!!!)
Hmm…will I listen to myself and take a break from school? How will my first date go after 10 years out of the game? Will I accomplish the goal of completing novel #3 by end of 2019? Follow my blog for more #lifeafter posts.
As you read in my previous post (I hope you’re a subscriber!), part of the reason for my hiatus from blogging is that I started a graduate program in library science in the fall of last year. Since I published my first book in 2007, I have considered many career opportunities/fields. Accounting, education, communication, and librarianship. Over this time, I would get so frustrated with the internal debate of what course I should take. My biggest fear was that in considering these other career options that I was somehow doubting my ability to gain success with my writing.
The truth is that doubt is a creative persons silent partner.
However, the reality of being a writer, even an eventual successful one, is that the bills have to be paid in the meantime. And there’s life to live and enjoy until I write the book or meet the person who catapults me to the success I long for. Timing is everything.
I have no doubt that I will enjoy working in a library. I love libraries, specifically public libraries. I don’t frequent them nearly enough–well, I didn’t until I started school. But, for me, walking through the doors of my local library is like a kid walking into a candy store. Pure delightful.
I imagine drawing inspiration for my own writing being surrounded by the writing of our literary greats. I am anxiously anticipating planning readings and book signing events for local and national authors. I look forward to planning activities that the community will benefit from. I look forward to servicing patrons who recognize the continued relevance of library services.
To date, I have completed one full semester of classes toward my degree with one or two more to go. I made the mistake of taking two classes the first two semesters, under estimating how demanding these courses were going to be. Like most people probably think, It’s library school. How hard can it be?
Let me tell you. It’s not so much hard but time consuming and demanding like any other graduate program. Also, although the program states that a prospective student does not have to prior library experience to enroll in the program, it’s kind of taught as though you do. Or you’re going to spend a considerable amount of time in one during the program.
After having to talk myself off the ledge of quitting a few times when things got tough, I finally got smart and told myself, “Uhh, who told you that you have to take two classes at a time? This program is not a race.” And I must say this spring/summer semester has been much more manageable with one class. It’s a keeper going forward. I actually have a little wiggle room to fit in some committed time to work on my current novel, which ranks above the. I still have my December 2019 goal to have that work completed.
Needless to say I’m excited about what the future holds. My future as a librarian and my life as a national bestselling author!
What are you excited about for your future? I’d love to hear.
I hope you all are enjoying your summer as much as I have been. I knew it had been a while since I posted on this site but I hadn’t realize it had been that long. Over a year!
So much happened during that time.
My daughter got engaged!
My best friend and I joined the newly engaged couple on a 3-day cruise to the Bahamas.
I took my son on my 25th high school reunion cruise, his first cruise, the next month. Both of these trips were equally desired, deserved and needed after everything we endured at the end of 2017. Plus I figured we might as well enjoy some time away as we awaited the repair of our home. All in all we had a blast. It was surely the highlight of our summer.
If the stress of grieving the loss of my husband and dealing with contractors with the repair of my home, I decided to apply to a graduate program in Library in Information Science so that I could–obviously–work as a librarian. Classes started in August. And I wouldn’t be my over achieving self if I didn’t jump feet first and take two classes the first semester.
Needless to say I was swamped with fitting lectures, research papers, and group projects into my already full schedule. So blogging found its way at the bottom of my to-do list. But I missed it. So as of this post…I’m back!
I have so much to tell you fill you in on. From grieving through year two, surviving the contractor from hell, adventures with my new dog, dating (if you can call it that)! Be on the lookout for my next post!
P.S. Forgot to mention, I also had surgery on my left-hand in the middle of the semester, putting me in a cast for 5 weeks! SMH!
One night I took my wedding ring off along with the other jewelry I wear everyday. The next morning it was the only thing I didn’t put back on.
I can’t really say why I didn’t put it on. I can say it has nothing to do with symbolizing being ready to move on. Three short months since Kevin’s passing, I’m far from that.
For me, though, wearing my wedding ring kept me in a place of confusion. I was always wondering;
“How long do I wear this?”
“What does it symbolize now that my husband is gone? My marriage or the loss of my husband?”
“Do family and friends expect to see it for a certain period of time, as a symbol of my grief?”
“How do I know when to take it off?”
It was too much to consider on top of everything else that weighs on my mind .
While I’m not wearing my wedding ring, I do wear these
everyday in remembrance of my husband.
The Pandora bracelet is the one he bought me for our anniversary last year. It was our 5th anniversary, hence the #5 charm. I added the deep purple charm in place of a keepsake for his ashes. Purple was his favorite color, representing his beloved fraternity, Omega Psi Phi. Unlike my other Pandora bracelets, the charms on this bracelet were chosen by my husband or for him. I consider it complete.
The Superman ring was a ring he purchased on our first and only cruise together. He wore it everyday since. Superman was one of his favorite childhood superheroes and he was my Superman. Wearing this ring and bracelet everyday, there are no questions or confusing thoughts. Just comfort.
It’s Saturday night. Ten o’clock but my clock is set for eleven in preparation for daylight savings time. I’m laying on the right side of the bed–my side of the bed–with a cup of warm lemon ginger tea on the nightstand in the special cup given to me by a dear friend in my first days of settling into my family’s temporary home.
If Kevin were still with me, I’d probably still be in bed or laying on the couch, in for the night. Even before sickness invaded our lives, we weren’t a couple that engaged in too much night life. Though he was the life of any party he went to, he was really a homebody, where he could be himself. So sitting up in my bed, binge watching the Murder She Wrote marathon on the Hallmark Channel is not out of the ordinary for me on a Saturday night. However, tonight the volume on the T.V. is turned down low as I sing along with some of my favorite R&B jams playing on the Whitney Houston station on Pandora radio.
Kevin loved to listen to me sing.
“Girl, I love to hear you sing,” he’d said since the first time I sang with him in my car. I was singing Tamia’s song, Last First Kiss. He said that was the day he knew I was a keeper.
It was no accident that I was listening to that song when Kevin got in the car. We’d been seeing each other for a couple of months by that time and I had fallen so hard for him. It’d been quite some time since I’d felt so strongly about a man.
No lyrics ever rang so true as those did for how I felt about him then and throughout our relationship:
“When it comes to you I wouldn’t change a thing…I wouldn’t even change the things I could change. ‘Cause babe you’re perfect, perfect to me, simply means that you’re perfect for me…”
I never mistook Kevin’s feelings about my singing. He said he loved to hear me sing, not necessarily that I could sing particularly well. The love he had for me made my singing music to his ears. He was the one with the real singing talent.
Now, alone in my bedroom, turning pages of photo album filled with pictures of us, I’m singing my heart out, comforted that Kevin is resting well. Comforted by the love that we shared, the love that will always be in my heart.
What does 45 days of being a widow look like? At the same time that everything has changed, so much is the same. The very next day after my husband passed, I had to get up to take my son to school. Crazy, right? Well, it made perfect sense to me at the time. It was semester finals, only 2 hours over 3 days, and then he’d be out for the two week Christmas break. The first day and week was spent with phone calls from family, friends, expressing condolences and investigators from the fire department and insurance company asking me the same questions over and over again. That was annoying but obviously necessary. I was glad when it came to an end.
Thanks to all those phone calls and the pressing need to shop for all of the necessities we’d lost, the days were busy but not long enough. It was the early morning hours and late nights when my grief wouldn’t let me avoid her. It was then I had no choice but to acknowledge that Kevin was gone. Now that I’m in my temporary rental home, away from the full home of my sister and her family, thus having more time to myself, those moments are more frequent yet sporadic. I’ll been browsing the cable guide and become sad, my eyes are filling with tears as I see the programs that he enjoyed—namely MSNBC and Supernatural, and Young & the Restless. He was a All My Children guy until I decided started back watching Y&R a couple years ago. Then in true Kevin fashion, it took over. I’d just get the highlights from him. Now I watch hearing his commentary in my head.
My news junkie is gone. Now I have to force myself to watch more news since I don’t fall asleep and awake to MSNBC.
The first couple of trips to the grocery store were tear jerkers. Whether at his favorite spot, Meijer, or mine, Kroger, all I can think about is stuff I don’t have to buy or think about cooking because based on his needs and wants. Will I ever buy tuna again or Crystal Light packets?
It hasn’t been all sadness over these first 30 days. The journey of mourning the loss of a loved has also included joyful laughs and some guilt along the way. The week he passed I went bowling with my daughter, her boyfriend, and my son. I felt ashamed and guilty for having fun, though I could hear Kevin saying, “You better live Char! You know I’m just chilling up here with the Lord and my boy Job.” That same day, we ate dinner at me and Kevin’s anniversary spot, Cheesecake Factory, ironically, seared at the same table as Kevin and I did on our last visit. Rather than request to be moved, I recalled fondly our time there on our 5th anniversary last March. On the flip side, the kids and I have shared genuine laughs recalling our favorite “Kevin” moments and sayings. One of mine is, “You don’t think fat meat is greasy.” My son’s should be, “Going to see a man about a dog,” Kevin’s reply whenever Nate asked where he was going.
As I prepare for the rebuilding of our home I feel guilty for looking forward to having virtually a new home. When the word “widow” fills my mind, I feel stuck in quicksand, unable to move. Kevin thought telling me frequently about his imminent death that he could prepare me for this time.
Nope, epic fail.
It’s just one day at a time kind of thing. But each of those is filled with missing various aspects of him….us.