Yesterday morning shortly after awaking, I got a voicemail on my cell phone from a slightly panicked friend who called to check on me. She was calling to see if I was at that Lane Bryant store, shopping as I usually do on Saturday mornings. Saturdays are the days when I can sneek out to hit my favorite shop to find some great clearance items and cash in my monthly coupon. Since the store is only a mile from my house, it’s a quick fix for a habitual shopper. Instead, I slept in because the night before, my hubby kept cajoling me to stay up and watch “just one more” episode of LOST and I ended up turning in around 4am.
My husband may very well have saved my life. I woke up to learn the store that I practically live in was involved in a ‘robbery gone bad” and 5 women were killed, after they were herded into the back room by a black man weilding a gun. Can you imagine the horror of suddenly being in a situation like that, your life changing on a dime before you and wondering if you will live to see tomorrow? It gives me a hole in the pit of my stomach just thinking about it.
One of the women killed yesterday morning was a saleslady I have come to love named Rhoda McFarland. In fact, yesterday, from the minute I found out about the killings, I had Rhoda on my mind-praying and hoping that maybe she had the day off. Please God, don’t let it be Rhoda. The police didn’t release the identities of the slain women until today, so I was on pins and needles wishing and hoping and praying Rhoda was at home watching this all unfold on her TV, just like I was.
When I would shop at Lane Bryant, and if she was working she’d always greet me with a, ”Hello soul sistah!”(I revealed to her jokingly that after a DNA test, I found out I have 7% black in me, so from then on she affectionately called me soul sister.) She would ask me how everything was going and she and I would just joke around and laugh. She was so nice, I was tempted to ask her if she would ever want to do lunch some time–but I never did. Rhoda had the most infectious laugh…it made what she was laughing about even funnier. Her smile was a mile wide and she was such a beautiful woman. I looked forward to seeing her every time I came in to the store. Oh, how I will miss her. What hits me in the heart is thinking how she was probably treated. I’m sure shear terror ripped through her before that bullet ended her life. I am in shock. I just can’t stomach the thought that Rhoda isn’t on this earth any more. I am so sad.
I wish I would have known the last time I saw her that it would be for the last time. I would have for sure given her a hug goodbye. But life isn’t that fair or considerate of us. Life just does what it wants. All day yesterday I vowed that if Rhoda was off, and if I see her again, I was going to give her the biggest hug and tell her how happy she makes me and how grateful I am that she’s alive. Today, I learned, I will never get that chance. This teaches me something about life. Something I always knew, but never really applied to real life because I never had someone I care about or like die suddenly like that. But what it teaches me is if there are people in your life who make your heart happy, irregardless if they are your child’s teacher or the employee at your favorite store, or your handy mechanic, make sure you tell them what they mean to you. Make sure you let them know you appreciate their kindness and hug them. You never know, someday they may be taken from you and suddenly there are no more chances. Poof, they are gone-plucked out of your life no matter if you like it or not. Tell the people you love how much they mean to you and say hello to your neighbors. Some day it may be the last time you have the chance.
Rhoda, Soul Sister, I will be looking for you in heaven. Keep a spot open for me. Did I ever tell you how happy you made me? Girl, there’s no one around like you. Sorry I didn’t get to give you that hug goodbye or go for lunch with you. Just so you know how much you were liked, and what a bright spot you were.
Rest in peace, girlfriend.
(Thank you LARRY, for the forced all nighter. Because of you, I am here today to write this.)