Sunday, October 31, 2010

rest in the light, sunshyne.

1980 - 2010

i was on the bus headed to dc for howard homecoming, enjoying the ride, listening to my kind of music, drifting in and out of sleep, literally reflecting on how lovely the sunshine was permeating the view of the horizon as we motored forward when my phone rang the first time. i noticed it was spencer, but since i was more than halfway sleep and on the bus, i didn't want to have a long conversation, so I didn't answer. i figured if it were important he'd leave a message and i'd call when i got off the bus, but there was no message so i kept gazing out into the sunlight. dozed some more. then my phone lit up again, this time, khyle. again i didn't answer but there was a message. i still didn't check it. but after a few mins, i thought it was strange that both spencer and khyle would call me from LA within minutes of one another... could their calls be related? was it urgent that i speak to them both at this moment? i sent a text back to them both saying that i was on a bus to dc asking what's up. spencer responded, "can you talk? can i call?" so i woke all the way up and dialed him back immediately.

he answered on the first ring, and did not beat around the bush.

"It's Sunshyne. She passed away today."

of course i asked him what he could possibly be talking about. couldn't really comprehend it. he said that she'd had a diabetic seizure that morning. i asked if he's sure she's gone. he said, "yeah, she's gone." my heart started beating so quickly and i asked for more details, which he couldn't provide other than one of her best friends and our mutual friend was a wreck. he said he and khyle were going to go be with her. we hung up and i called khyle immediately. "hey. what's going on?" he kinda says some things that amounted to confirming what spencer said. our friend, the beautiful Sunshyne, was gone. i asked if nikita knew, but they both had not been able to reach her. she was in DC for homecoming as well.

so, i hung up with khyle and called her. she said she'd just awakened and was getting ready to get dressed to go to up to the yard on Howard's campus. i said, sit down. she said she was sitting. and i just said it: Sunshyne passed away today. it was soooo surreal to be saying this. her response: i don't think i believe that. i said, believe it, honey. she asked what happened, i told her what little i got from spencer and khyle, she said she was going to call melva. so we got off the phone.

i sat there for a moment, still about an hour or more outside of dc, stunned. at this point, it didn't matter if i was having such intimate discussion on a public bus ride. i needed to talk. i called my mom, told her because knew Sunshyne as well. she was shocked with sorrow. i called Daddy next. he didn't remember her by face, but remembered me speaking of her in earlier years when i lived at home. i asked what a diabetic seizure is and how someone could pass away from one. he told me how when Gran Gran's sugar was too low, she'd go into a diabetic coma, so perhaps a seizure was caused by the opposite, and her sugar was too high. in our heart to heart we talked about a number of things.

when i asked how to make sense of this, he said there's nothing to make sense of when a person dies other than we will all pass that way. when i said that perhaps it is easier for people who have experienced a lot of death to accept such things, he said that it doesn't make it easier no matter how many times you go through it. he said even in Gran Gran being ill for so long and him being at peace at the fact that she is no longer suffering from her ailments, her passing was still a very difficult grieving period to go through. still is, i imagine. he said though, that as it says in scripture, the Lord knows the number of each of our days, so there is no passing away before you are supposed to. he mentioned how the day before he'd just reflected on how there's a dash between the 1925 and the 2010 on my grandmother's gravestone, which indicates that no matter how long you live, it is still a dash in time, just a moment, when it comes to reality of eternity. and furthermore, as Christians, it is certainly alright and appropriate to grieve, but we have the added hope of seeing our loved ones again in eternity who have passed away in Christ. we don't grieve with the hopelessness of the world, he said, believing that we are forever separated by death. the real tragedy, he reminded, is when a loved one dies never having accepted Christ and lived a life reflective of their loving relationship with God. all things i know, and things i think of when it comes to Shay Shay and Prince Jones, Gran Gran, Mommae, and Daddy Albert. and now, Sunshyne. i know i will see them again. but it's still so................ surreal. strange. unbelievable.

and still such a tragedy. as melva explained to me the next day, Sunshyne was about three months pregnant, with a baby boy i believe, and had developed gestational diabetes in her first pregnancy with her daughter, who is now two years old. she's been married for two or three years as well, and it appeared storybook. you know. she and her beloved seemed made for one another, he a youth pastor, she a mentor to youth girls teaching classes on purity. pictures of their wedding day reflect and ebony princess and ivory prince off to live an enchanted happily ever after. she was an extremely attractive girl, but being bred in north carolina, was the epitome of down home southern charm. she worked out often, running marathons, watching her diet. she was an actress getting commercials here and there, doing stage work. and with a new baby on the way, a precious toddler running around, and a husband who adored her as God's precious treasure, it seemed her entire life was to unfold for years to come. it seems SHE did everything right. Just like Shay Shay. THEY did -EVERYTHING- RIGHT there is to do. They loved God with their whole hearts, were the vision and role model for other women and girls, friends, etc. Model wives with coveted relationships with their spouses. Ministers for the youth with their husbands, doing the Lord's work. Sunshyne enjoyed motherhood for a couple of years longer than Shay, who passed when her baby boy was two weeks old, but they were both 30, and both died from complications related to pregnancy.

THIS is a horrible reality to face, for everyone involved. her husband and mother, God bless their hearts and comfort. i remember the days following Shay's passing and the things her husband would say in terms of the Lord preparing him for this moment, when she expressed that she was in pain and didn't know what was going on. he called paramedics but it took so long for them to come, he could see in her face that she was leaving here and the Lord was preparing him to be able to handle it. six months later, for whatever reasons that are still unclear to me, he disappeared with the baby boy, and her family has not seen him since he was six months old. i can't imagine the Lord told him to do THAT, but, what do I know. so............................ in this bad situation, i really am praying that the Lord will place people in sunshyne's husband's life to hold him up as he's weary with grief, that there will be mother replacements for the two year old baby girl, and that everyone is made whole who feels broken by this tragedy.

Though a tragedy.... everyone that knew her has been comforted by the fact that Sunshyne LOVED THE LORD, utterly and completely, more than herself and any other person; so, we are convinced she is doing better than any of us in this moment. ..........but still. this is pretty surreal.


JP said...


This is disturbing and it brought tears to my eyes. First off, sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. I offer you my condolescences and prayers. Sunshyne is beautiful!!! Her name was very befitting. 

Secondly, I'm trying to figure out what disturbs me more, as there are so many elements within this. Is it the sudden eclipse of a life that seems too young to go? Is it the pregnancy-related health issues and her age that resembled Shay Shay? Or is it that she seemed to have the life most of us singles strive for: marriage, kids, career, good health and a heart to serve God and others at church. 

I guess I'm reading this thinking "this could be me" .... "what if this happens to me?" ... No guarantee on what age or what year that the Lord has your "days numbered." Apparently, it doesn't matter if your young or old. You can just go at anytime. It just make me wonder, "What's the point of it all? This dash called life." I've already been in deep self-introspection since the season changed (I do this every Fall), but I guess your post has just hit home to make me ponder these questions even more. 

I experienced a real-life tragedy in 2006 when my close friend's sister was shot in the head and killed at age 30 by her estranged husband. She had three kids and was saved. Her youngest son, age 6, had died a year prior, due to brain tumors. She did a praise dance at her son's funeral and then a year later, she was dead. Gone, just like that. 

I think as a Christian, you believe you will be immune to such tragedies as passing away in your 30's since pastors frequently reference Psalms 90:10 as a promise of life for at least 70 years, but as we both have seen, this is not true. Too many folks under 50 are passing away...

I guess it just proves what King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 2:11 "Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind." I think the dash in between the birthdate and the deathdate on a gravestone is really just a symbol for the wind....maybe life is just the wind. 

Mai~Goodness said...

Thank you for sharing your deepest sentiments, Jojo. And I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. I know we all are acquiring our own versions of this story, which is completely heartbreaking. I believe you hit it on the nail with your introspective ponderings... you really begin to think about how very easily it could be you that people are mourning when your young friends begin to pass away. ESPECIALLY the ones who are doing "everything right" as we are taught to experience life. We're taught to believe that we will most likely have a long life here in this existence in addition to the eternal life promised in the hereafter. Then the ones who aren't even kicking up foolishness around them end up passing away from something that couldn't be stopped. Your feelings become displaced, and the phrase "knocks the wind out of you" just makes that much more sense. *sigh* I haven't even felt compelled to cry yet. It's a different kind of grief I'm experiencing, like... Sunshyne's made it, too bad for the rest of us left here... a little bit, anyway. I know the tears will come at the service tomorrow, and so be it; tears are cathartic and I'm a total cryer-for-hire when I need to be! But, it just created, or maybe compounded, this melancholy that sticks around, the flip side of the extremely joyful moments coin. It's like you wake up and flip the coin to see on which side it will land. Don't get me wrong, I do find moments of joy through each of my days, but the melancholy is simultaneously present. The ambivalence of it all seems like it may be here to stay for a while though. C'est la vie.

MMS said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your friend's passing, Mai. I truly love your father's sentiment about the "dash."

aishaj said...

I'm sorry to hear about your friend seemed a little detached this past weekend and I wished I'd asked what was wrong.
But we did briefly talk about loss and how it can make people react in ways we'll never understand (or, on the other hand, we understand on a spiritual)
You are doing what you must do; making sure you are there to celebrate the life of what sounds like a wonderful person.
Safe travels to you and my thoughts are with you and the family.

eMCee said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing. I have too many emotions stirring to articulate, Just know you are loved, I am praying for you, and am lifting up beautiful Sunshyne's family in prayer. This is a devastating loss on so many levels, one that only God's grace can bring you all through.

ThatKellieGirl said...

Mai, Thank you for sharing your thoughts and emotions. It really puts life in perspective. Sending peace and blessings to Sunshyne's family and friends.

Anonymous said...

Mai - when you posted a comment at the beginning of the week about your Sista Sunshyne, I didn't realize that the loss was so immediate. I am so sorry. And I am happy that you made the trip out to LA to celebrate her too short life and to mourn her passing. I wish I had wisdom (ohh, I wish I had it when I needed it for myself). I don't. Every loss is the worst. But I hope you and all her friends, her husband and child are surrounded by love to help get through to the rest of your lives. Ain't no getting over it. But living and loving are the things she would want you all to keep doing. God must have needed another angel, another soldier in Christ to help watch over this world down here.


Mai~Goodness said...

Aisha, MC, Monica, Kelly, Tara, Thank you all for your words of encouragement, as words are power, and friendship is golden.