her name was debbie

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My good friend, Leann, lost her mom this week. I had followed the journey for months through the Facebook page set up to keep friends and family updated on prognosis, treatments, surgeries, up, downs and the everythings in between. And then last Sunday, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and saw the news.

I stood in my hallway and sobbed.

I don’t know how to process the news or console a friend that is now missing a parent. I have not yet been through the loss of a parental unit, and so I can’t even imagine what it feels like to suddenly just NOT have a person in your life who has been there since day one.

Everything seems contrite and trivial. It puts things in perspective.

Debbie was a super cool lady.

She was a woman of faith who cared about and accepted everyone. Regardless of religious beliefs, race or sexuality she treated you like family.

She lived simply in the same house she had raised her kids in. I ate dinner one night in the kitchen where the family had managed nightly dinners. The kitchen wasn’t made to hold a table. They told me how, if there were enough people sitting around the table, the easiest way to get through to the living room was to actually go out the back door and come back in the front. Just think of how close families would still be if we all lived that closely with each other!

She always gave back to the community. She was involved with community food banks and church groups making sure those in need had food and other needed resources.

She was always up for the weird and absurd even it was beyond her comfort zone. My friend was relentless in dragging her mom to local performances and concerts and city trips. She saw burlesque shows and weird circus freak shows and visited creepy puppet stores. And while she sat out the puppet store, she really loved it all!

She was a strong woman who subsequently raised strong girls. My friend is one of the most fearless women I know. There are times in my life when I literally remind myself that Leann wouldn’t hesitate to do something or Leann would figure out what to do…and I forge ahead. Thank you Debbie for raising that kind of woman!

Maybe in the end, it’s okay that these moments always make things seem contrite and trivial. Maybe as we figure out how to live with a loss of this magnitude, a loss that will always stay with us, it will always make the “big deals” and “end of the world” events seem less important.

Maybe in the end, we always need a little bit of perspective.

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hatred and fear in america

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It’s been a rough week in America. After the first death, I accidentally landed on a CNN page where the video just autoplayed and before I could stop it I was watching Alton Sterling on the ground dying. So I stopped going to the CNN site. After the second killing in Minnesota, I even had to stop browsing Facebook. I couldn’t read anything without sitting at my computer and sobbing.

Now there are Dallas officers dead, hundreds arrested at protests, and U.S. travel advisories issued by other countries warning travelers to stay safe and cooperate with law enforcement as they travel to the states.

I don’t know how to process all the hatred that sits behind all these violent acts. I also don’t understand how we live in a time where anyone online can watch while these men lie on the ground dying.

While I grew up in one of the whitest cities in America, in the bible belt no less, somewhere along the way, I became part of a family that is now bi-racial, have good friends with bi-racial families and have fostered two African American boys who continue to live in one of the poorest areas in the city. So I know the struggles that come along with the color of your skin being dark. The stares, the way people walk farther out as a black man walks by them, the way women hold their purses as they see black men walking toward them.

What I don’t (and will never) understand is why the color of anyone’s skin dictates what people think about them or act around them. Why on earth does the color of someone’s skin mean that they are different or more violent or less worthy than those with lighter skin? There are ivy league, WHITE boys acting more violently than these two men who were just killed and they aren’t being shot by the cops. Shit, they aren’t even going to jail for what they did.

I know it’s hard (or probably impossible) to know whether this is all police brutality against blacks or just police brutality in general. But I do know that we see a lot more of these incidents involving black men. And maybe it’s just because what we see on the news and social media is skewed. But maybe it’s not. How about maybe we just agree that its violent and it’s violence based on hatred and it’s violence that just needs to stop.

Be good to each other.