Friend- A person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.

Over the years, I’ve learned to keep my circle small with even numbers for outing purposes (Sucks when theres and odd number of people). I’ve always said I have good friends that are loyal, smart, beautiful, and helpful. And while all this is true, they showed up and showed out when my mom passed. It caused me to look at them in such a different light that I cry every time I think about them because I didn’t know just how loyal, smart, beautiful and helpful they are.

 There is no doubt in my mind that each and every person in my life played and essential role in my grieving process. Their God given talents, imperfections and personalities were right there at the right time and I know God did this on purpose because He knew my sister and I would need it. He knew we would be weak mentally, physically, and emotionally. He knew we would be on auto pilot and wouldn’t know how to feed ourselves, care for ourselves, or even think for ourselves.

Camille Davis “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” -Proverbs 17:17. She’s been my best friend since 3rd grade (over 17 years!) and while we’ve been through a lot together never anything like this. We share siblings, parents, and problems so I expected her to be in shambles after my mothers passing. Yes, she had her moments but it was like a light went off in her head. She has never been the nurturing type but it was like her mother instincts went into overdrive. She stayed silently at my house for 7 days straight. She took notes on who came to my house and what they brought (whether it was food, card, money, etc.) she answered my phone, gave instructions, directions and shooed away bothersome people. She was my gatekeeper. If you wanted to see or say anything to me she became the personal bodyguard I didn’t know I needed. She even secretly devised plans with my other friends on what to do in emergency situations. Many would attribute her mother-stincts to genetics or science. But I know it was God. See what you guys don’t know is that 6 months prior to my mom’s passing, Camille was in a relationship with a young man that has a baby. Though that relationship was never meant to last, I truly believe God purposefully put her through that as a way to birth the mother spirit He placed into her that never got a chance to come to light. During the course of that relationship she found her self genuinely caring for a tiny human that did not belong to her. This is something that not only shocked the family but also herself. Coincidence does not exist.

Nicole Martin “My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend” -Job 16:20-21.My prayer partner. When I cannot (and sometimes will not) pray for myself, she steps in with her mighty wind of godly obedience to keep me covered. The year I took off from church I relied heavily on her in public and private to lift up my burdens, cares, and worries to God when I was too angry with Him to even say His name in a positive light. There was no doubt in my mind that she would do the same for me when my mom passed. Unbeknown to me, she too put on a new and uncharacteristic role in my life. She became the second link in the hedge of protection around me. While Camille was in charge of my physical wellbeing, Kristen was in charge of my emotional well being. She protected my emotions from people who could cause me emotional damage from my past. Just about any person that has done me wrong in the last two years reached out to her to get to me. She did something she’s not used to doing. She intervened into my personal life and made decisions on who would see me, get a message to me, or talk to me. Even though I was blind to it, God gave her the vision of potential emotional triggers and tragedies. He spoke through her to keep me safe from the devils attacks on my weak emotional state. It takes a village to protect a child of God.

KesiahPrice Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”- Ecclesiastes 4:9-10.If I had to assign just one word to Kesiah, it would be ‘loyalty’. I have never seen someone stand so firmly to everyone. Even if at times it causes her a setback or discomfort she has the temperament close to God himself that I’ve only read about in The Bible. To be honest, I have no idea when or how she and I became close but I thank God we did. Even before we were friends it seemed that when my world was absolute in a tornado like chaos she was always the calm common denominator. Looking at her it’s like the world goes slowly so she can analyze the situation from every side and maintain her discretion. She can give an unbiased opinion about anything. This third link in my hedge became my peace. The oldest of seven girls has given her a patience that I’m not sure would exist otherwise. Years of solving squabbles, talking through problems and providing solutions had prepared her perfectly to be an oasis. At one point during the week before the funeral, there was about 30 people cramped into my tiny apartment. Kesiah came by to check on me. I had been feeling cramped and claustrophobic with all my family and friends in one HOT apartment. She sat next to me on the couch not saying much. I think she was taking it all in for herself. I could feel an anxiety attack creeping up my neck. She touched my hand and my temperature decreased. We went to go view my mom’s body for the first time and I was nervous. My phone buzzed indicating a text message had just come in. It was from Kesiah and it simply said “I love you”. God knew I needed that island of peace. When I couldn’t walk to the island of peace myself she unknowingly picked me up, put me on her back and lead me to drink from the waters of serenity. Peace is the only thing separating us from insanity.

Fabian Simpson “As in water face reflects face, so the heart of the man reflects the man.” -Proverbs 27:19. One of the greatest men I’ve ever met. Even though, of the bunch, I’ve known him the shortest amount of time. He has quickly become one of my best friends and the only person who is a bigger nerd than I. The person who spits out random facts about movie, TV, social injustices, food, celebrity interviews etc faster than I can. He is a fellow orphan and immediately upon learning of my mom’s passing gave me wisdom about what was to come. Because he knows I am a very logical person, he gave me the insight I needed. I need step by step instructions for literally everything. To this day he is the only person to tell me exactly how the funeral, weeks and months following the death of a loved one will be like. On the days were there was no one around to pick me up he reminded me who I am. He never not once fell sorry for me or let me feel sorry for myself. One night during a three hour long convo, he said “Suck it up Janae. People are only going to feel sorry for you for another week or two then it’s time for you to buck up. I never met your mom but I know she didn’t raise you to wallow in your pain. You are a spitting image of your mother in every way and she would never sit there and feel sorry for herself in a situation like this.” He was right. She wouldn’t. Although he would disagree, He can be harsh but he has one of the biggest and purest hearts I’ve seen. A couple days later, I called him upset again. The funeral was over and everyone had returned to their lives forgetting about me. His only response was ” What do you need?” I took a second and thought about it, “A hug.” Within the hour he had a flight from his hometown in Florida to VA to give me a hug. God knew I would need him to be the mental security link in my hedge. Sensitive but strong, big but small, brilliant but clueless; a walking oxymoron. The person who holds my mirror upright.

Darion Clark “Stay with me; do not be afraid, for he who seeks my life seeks you life. With me you shall be in safe keeping.” -1 Samuel 22:23.Throughout high school there was several rumors that Darion and I were more than just friends. While there is still no truth to any of those rumors, I can honestly say I get why they thought that. When we are around each other we are always in a world of our own. There is times we’ve been at crowded social gatherings and been in the corner laughing at our own jokes that no one else understands. A brother to me and my family. The definition of a ride or die. The day my mom died. I called Darion to tell him what was going on. It wasn’t until he picked up the phone that I realized I couldn’t say those words again. Before him I had broken the news to at least 10 other people. I couldn’t do it. So I asked him to come over instead to talk. Without a question or hesitation he said, “I’ll be there in 15 minutes.”  I’m sure his mind was racing because he had no idea what I would say. When he arrived I met him in the lobby of my apartment complex. I had all intention of going upstairs to talk. Instead, I fell into his arms and said two words, “She’s gone.” Without flinching, he held me until I could breathe again. “Let’s go!” we went into his truck and drove to the grocery store. I’m not sure why but that meant the world to me. His loyalty so unshaken, his emotions unwavering, his hands held mine firmly while we drove. Fast forward a couple weeks later, I was having a really rough time adjusting to living by myself. I was always scared and afraid of everything. I stayed in bed for days at a time. I didn’t know how to tell anyone that I was struggling. I didn’t even know who I could call or what I would say to let them know I was beginning to lose my mind. My phone rang, it was Darion.  “Can you spend the night with me tomorrow?” I heard myself say. Immediately I kicked myself because it sounded stupid and I had no response to what the question I was sure he would ask. “Sure. I’ll be there at 10” True to his word, he never asked my why I wanted him to come by, he never asked my if I was okay or what was going on in my head. God knew that I had no answers to any of those questions. Just like at the funeral he stayed by my side the whole night making sure I laughed hard and watched my favorite movies. Fear cannot exist where God has placed his grace.

The passing of a loved one bring out the best or worst, sometimes both, of the people that surround you. It is important that your tribe is equipped to handle the ups and mostly downs of everything that is coming in your path, But how do you know if your tribe is willing and ready? 

Answer: You don’t know and you’ll never be fully sure until it’s game time.

We should be constantly seeking God to see who/what to let into our inner circle. Let me explain…Remember the saying” When someone tell you who they are, believe them”? Well, we all should be paying attention to what positive and negative attributes the people in our life have because these specific attributes will be heightened in the event of a tragedy or emergency. My tragedy did not change the attributes of the people I surround myself with. Instead, it brought out the attributes they had possessed for years! Some of them were already aware of these attributes, others learned about them for the first time; but they were there. 

While saying my speech at the funeral I found myself looking in the faces of the most important people in my life and holding back tears because during this transition I couldn’t have asked any of them to be any better to me. While some did disappoint me, I had to remember they were never truly in my inner circle. I found myself asking God literally, what did I do to deserve this magnitude of greatness from people I’m not in the slightest related or obligated to.

I know I’m one of Jesus’ favorites because he saw fit to put these people in my life far far before I would ever need them.

k, good talk