Friday, October 30, 2009


After a lot of hard work,

In the very wee morning hours of October 29th......

Jenavieve Elizabeth Smith became a part of our lives.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Meeting Jenavieve

Today at noon, Jordan will be admitted to EGH. We are ready. We are waiting. We are excited. We are scared. For me, I take being a labor coach very seriously. I don't have a lot of self confidence but this is one thing I think I do well. It is also awkward because Patrick will be there as Jordan's support person but I must be in charge. I demand that. I expect that.

Six years ago when Jocelyn was born, I told Jordan I would coach but would leave immediately following the birth so they could be a family. Little did I know what would happen afterwards. The horror of that first week. The life that seeped out of Jordan because of blood pressure problems. This time I am prepared.

A new grandchild! A new generation. As we think of three generations, I am so extremely proud of Jordan and Patrick and their faith. The faith of their parents have truly become theirs. I pray the faith of her grandparents and parents will come alive someday in the life of Jenavieve.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jenavieve - Soon to Be.

Hopefully by the end of this week, Jenavieve will be here. Jordan is in a lot of discomfort and has GOT to have the longest pregnancies on record. We are praying that the pre-eclampia will not be a problem. To be honest, I would prefer she attempt to have this baby with as few interventions as possible but her doctor is already pushing for an epidural. I think she would feel better if she were more in control. I am preparing to be her labor coach again - a responsibility I take seriously.

On a disappointing note - the hospital is in lockdown and no one under the age of 18 is allowed in. That means Jocelyn and Juliet won't get the chance to meet their sister for a few days..... What if she actually turns out to be a he?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saying Good-Bye

Yesterday it was time to say 'Good-Bye' to Darlene. I have never been to an ethnically diverse funeral. She would have told me, 'This is what black folk do.' Wow! They sent her out with fanfare. There were 12 pastors, 2 vocalists, 2 nurses in case anyone became overcome, and 350 friends and family. If she were alive I would tease her and tell her the only thing people were overcome with was the Spirit.

Mike and I had a chance to represent her family from work and share what she meant to us. I was so proud of him. He is not a public speaker and to get up in front of so many people under these circumstances was not easy. We stood beside each other and reached out the few times we began to falter.

I shared that on May 14, 1976 Darlene walked through the doors of Sears as an 18 year old Decca student. Through the years she had many jobs including shoe department, children's, men's, office lead, pricing lead. But this really isn't about her 'jobs'. It is about who she was and how she touched the lives of each of us who knew her as friend.

Even though we have both worked at Sears for a long time, Darlene and I didn't really connect until about 7-8 years ago. We are very different, Darlene and I. Almost exact opposites.

Eventually, our store went through a tough time when it seemed as if the staff became divided. I told Darlene that in the game of Sears Survivor, we were allies. And in spite of our differences, that is what we became. We got into trouble more than once for making secret signals back and forth during staff meetings with our eyes. Darlene and I eventually became Tuesday night staff partners. Each Tuesday we would alternate between Hacienda and Columbo's for supper. We laughed a lot, shared a lot, and we grew to know each other better. I tried very hard not to get on her last nerve!

One of the things I appreciated most about Darlene was her ability to tell it like it was. She didn't worry about being tactful. That really wasn't a word in her vocabulary. But that's o.k. You always knew where you stood with Darlene. She could confront someone when they were doing wrong and also made sure that they knew that they were appreciated when they did a good job.

I also valued her wisdom. Often I would talk to her about a situation and ponder her advice.

Darlene loved to go to Red Lobster. She loves to celebrate - anything! She loved the times she got to spend with her Sears family just as she loved the times she spent with her biological family. She called Maxine 'Mom', Mike was 'her husband', Toni was 'her sister'. Whenever we talked, she would ask me about different people in her Sears family. She loved all of you very much. She appreciated the cards you sent, the phone calls you made, your visits, and our sunshine box.

I remember June 13, 2008. That is when she was diagnosed. We cried together over the phone and then she made fun of me for crying. I am so proud of Darlene. She fought hard and with a sweet spirit. She faced her enemy head on. At the very beginning, I told her that it was possible for her loose the battle but still have the victory, and she did. Many of you became a part of her army, her team with your support and love.

For the past several months, at 8:00 on Thursday evenings, my phone would ring and it would be Darlene. We would laugh. We would talk. Thursday nights will be especially lonely. Especially hard.

Sprinkled throughout you see many members of her Sears family. Darlene had a different relationship with each of us. She met us where we were. She touched our lives in different ways. We all loved her. Respected her. Appreciated her. But to me, she was my champion, my ally, my spirit lifter, my giver of advice, my listening ear, my calmer downer, my dear friend.

When a police officer has passed away, he is traditionally driven by the police station one last time and the code '10-42 Officer .... now at his home' is repeated. Today I say, 'Good Night Darlene, and thank you for working at Sears.'

Darlene's last ride was through the parking lot at Sears. After work I went to the cemetery for a private time with her.

Last Christmas she was so ill. She said she only bought one Christmas gift and that was this angel figurine that she gave me. Although I was very uncomfortable with all the emotions at the funeral, as I thought about it, I could use some of that enthusiasm when I Worship. Some of that spontaneous show of excitement. They had her casket open as we left. She was not Darlene. I put my hand on her shoulder one last time. She looked far more beautiful to me the last time I saw her in the hospital - her hair beginning to come back, her skinny little face with bugged out eyes. She looked so beautiful. Some day we will meet again - she is waiting for me. That is my promise. My hope. My surety.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Home Free

Yesterday morning at around 10:30 I lost my Survivor, Sears ally. I lost my confidant. I lost my team mate. I lost my friend.

I really never thought it would happen. I thought that she would win this battle. She lost. But, she did have the victory. The ultimate victory.

On Wednesday I went to see her in the hospital, shocked at how she had changed in such a short time. She had a hard time speaking so I just sat beside her. At one point she became aware of me and thanked me for being her friend, for sitting beside her. She said, 'Now that is a true friend.'

On Thursday I quickly ran up to see her before heading off to the cabin for the weekend. She had slipped further away. On Friday they called and said that she was only given a short time to live so I came home. I told her I loved her. I thanked her for being my friend. I told her I was proud of her. On Saturday morning I got to see her one more time. Again, I told her how much I loved her.

Darlene has left a void in my heart. In my workplace. No more Thursday night phone calls. No more making fun of her eubonics. No more asking 'what black folk do?' No more alliance.

Darlene is Home Free. Good night, and thank you for working at Sears.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Disconnected and Broken

Last Saturday we I drove to Nappanee to get the Angel Food for mom, a lot of memories ran through my mind.

Each Summer we would come home from Puerto Rico. For me, it was a time to be a child. Wakarusa/Nappanee were so safe. There were no agendas. It was just a time to be a kid and enjoy Summer living in small town America. Rather than going to the beach, we rode bikes. Rather than hearing Spanish chatter, it was all English. Different sights, different sounds.

For so many years I prayed that we could move back to America. We would sing the song from West Side Story, 'I like to be in America'. Finally that happened. It was my junior year. I will never forget walking into school that first day. It smelled different. I didn't have any connections with the kids in my class. They had lived in small town America all their lives -together. They knew no diversity. They knew nothing of the ocean, the mountains, the coqui. When I got nervous, I forgot my English. I burned a hole through my chemistry book the first day. I was truly a third culture kid - American by birth, but Puerto Rican in my experiences. Then I was betrayed by someone who I thought was my friend. It has haunted me my entire life - I never understood and have always wished I could ask 'why?'

We just had a class reunion. I have never gone to any. I remain disconnected. Odd. As a child, I drempt of coming home. As a teen, I recognized that this was not home. As an adult, I now know that I am truly a tourist on earth, no matter where I am because my ultimate home is in Heaven. It does make me sad to feel disconnected though.

On Sunday we saw a clip about praying for America. We were asked to get on our knees and pray. The minute I hit my knees I was broken. Broken for people that I am connected to - even through the world of blogging. People struggling. People who have had huge losses. People I have never met in real life. Oddly, I feel connected to them. Perhaps because we share the same faith. The same Hope. The same someday Home. Maybe I am not so disconnected afterall.