Yesterday, I traveled back to my childhood hometown. Never expecting to go back, not really, my life had moved on elsewhere.
But back I went, saddened, and needing to be around those of my cohort.
One of our own suddenly, unexpectedly, and tragically came to the end of his life. He was in his law office, preparing for his court appearance that was to be in just a few hours, and somewhere in all that writing his briefs and gathering his things - he had a brain aneurysm Sudden and complete, just like that, and his candle went out at only 49.
We traveled back, there were not that many of us, black kids, in that time of growing up, we all knew each other, we were part of each other's formative years. The church was packed, standing-room-only, they told me the outpouring was just as large the night before for the visitation. We collectively celebrated his life and grieved for our loss of his smile, his laughter, his determination, his tenacity.
I looked into the faces of those I grew up with and almost without words, we hugged each other, needed to be in each other's presence, to assure each other that we truly were part of a magical time. Home, sometimes you have to go back to go forward.
My childhood friend and I sat down over lunch and chatted, something we hadn't done is close to 30 years. Where had the time gone? She and I went to serve the family in whatever way needed, we felt the need to put our hands at work, so we cleared tables. We extended our hand to serve to say again, he mattered, he affected us.
The drive back to my family had my heart filled with memories, some moments of yearning for my own children to have that sense of being "in the majority" with other people who looked like us and shared our belief in the future. I wanted to cocoon for a moment in that crisp air with those who were and are a part of my history.
Home can be a special place. We reconcile the moments and rejoice in the memories. We honor the life of those who touched our's and we strive to keep living fully, completely, and to never stop dreaming.