As a child, I used to smile and laugh and run and play. I was well fed and well educated, and had no worries or cares. I was raised as a carefree Black girl despite growing up in the “inner city” and being raised by a single mother. Then, everything changed. An older cousin repeatedly sexually abused me. We moved to the suburbs, and I experienced firsthand what it meant to feel “house poor. My older sister graduated from high school and moved out, leaving me alone with my mom and new stepfather.
That carefree, little Black girl was replaced by an angry, anxious, defensive, and selfish young woman. I walked around covered by armor—protecting myself from further harm. But the armor also kept me from being able to accept, receive or embrace the love that was all around me. I will forever be grateful for Ashley, Jan, Sarah and Tanya—four amazing women I met my freshman year of college. They fully accepted me as I was, and loved me completely. They weren’t offended when I got defensive, nor were they shocked when I pulled away emotionally. They continued our friendships despite my emotional distance and even introduced me to their amazing and kind families. Together, they showed me unconditional and fully functional LOVE.
I turned to these cherished friends—and my beloved godmother Annie—when my marriage fell apart a year after it began, and I sank into a deep depression. I felt so bad back then that I thought death would be easier. I even made a plan and was prepared to carry it out. I had reached rock bottom. Fortunately, many loving people around helped me to get the psychiatric help I so desperately needed.
Hitting rock bottom was the BEST thing that ever happened to me. I lowered my defenses. I participated in group therapy sessions. I listened as others share their mental health challenges---and realized, perhaps for the first time, that I was not alone. Those college friendships grew even deeper as I finally began to be honest with my friends, and an intimacy ensued that I never thought possible.
I also was able to be more honest and genuine with the new people God brought into my life for its next phase. In a new city, attending a new church, I experienced the love, joy, fellowship and community that should characterize any group of believers. This particular group of professional, Christian women helped me to fully heal from the abuse and abandonment I had suffered. Six years later, Angelyn, Anne-Marie, Elizabeth, Joanne, Kim, Megan, and Suzie were added to my list of kindred spirits.
Hitting rock bottom allowed me to see, experience, accept and embrace the worst that life had to offer. Within a two-year period, I found myself destitute, divorced, disabled, and dealing with severe depression. Yet, I was still alive. Life had thrown me its worst, and I was still standing. Hitting rock bottom helped me to develop and hone the skills that allow me to face any challenge that comes my way today with faith, hope, and love.
I am going to miss my godmother Annie tremendously. She has been such an important part of my maturity into adulthood. She helped me accept my divorce and fight the depression. She listened as I shared my challenges opening a yoga studio, and supported my decision to close it after 16 moths. I can’t think of a major decision or life event I have experienced where she wasn’t present—from my birth to all of my graduation ceremonies to my wedding day. She is irreplaceable.
Last weekend, I stood at her bedside for the last time. I sang praise songs to calm her spirit and ease her transition from this world. I could tell that her body had little fight left within it, yet her spirit was not yet ready to surrender. I believe she was worried about us and how we would fare without her. So, I let Annie know that we would all be okay. I insisted that my mom and her son say the same thing; we will be okay without you. We prepared her spirit that afternoon, so that she was able to breathe her last breath early Tuesday morning and depart this world.
I sincerely meant every word I said at Annie’s bedside. I will be okay without her. I know she will be watching over me from heaven—and I know that I can speak with her at anytime through prayer. After admiring her my entire life, I also know her character and believe that I can discern how she would handle any situation that would come her way. I will do my best to then live in accordance. I have lost Annie’s physical body to cancer, but her spirit will always be with her loved ones and me!
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13, NIV
Crystal Moore began her wellness quest in 2003 after being diagnosed with lupus. Her quest has led her to embrace yoga, faith, exercise, healthy eating, and relationships. Share her journey.