In my last post, I mentioned that I was having a hard time writing because I was still speechless regarding the loss of Roy’s life. Well, for this post, speechless is an understatement. This odd, ironic and bizarre reality is stranger than fiction. In my last post, I also mentioned that while Roy was my friend Meghan’s “favorite” of all the amazing kids we built a relationship in the inner-city of Baton Rouge, LaQuisha was mine. In all honesty, LaQuisha was THE reason I started going out there on my own in the first place. She was THE reason I established a relationship with the family, connected with Maude, and continued to visit, buy groceries, rally contributors for Christmas presents, etc. through the years for this family that captured my heart. I can honestly say that LaQuisha was KEY in this entire seven-year season of my life.
I will never forget the first day I met her. All of these adorable, energetic kids were running amuck all over this yard in a very poor part of town. In the midst of the chaos was this precious and pure, super shy (the only shy) little girl who was hiding behind a tree. I was instantly drawn to her. As I approached her and began to talk to her, her only response was the most amazing smile I have ever seen in my life.
I found out her birthday was coming up, and the greatest idea hit me. I gathered some friends together and we bought presents, a birthday cake, and party decorations and surprised her on her birthday. The best day of my life. I will never forget the sight of her applying blue eye shadow to her lips. She didn’t quite have the whole make-up thing down yet.
I will never forget the time we picked her up and spent the entire day together. We went to Wal-Mart and let her pick out anything she wanted. The first thing she picked out was a pair of hot pink flip-flops. Then we took her to AppleBees and she ordered fried chicken. I will never forget that Thanksgiving day that we spent together. It rained and poured the entire day as we loaded tons of people from LaQuisha’s inner-city neighborhood onto a bus and headed for the Baton Rouge Convention Center for a community Thanksgiving dinner. It was that day that LaQuisha said the famous words, “Is that yo ceeeellllll phone?” and “How much it cossss?” The deep raspy tone of her selective words will never leave me.
When I first met her, she was this little, precious 7-year old angel. By the time I moved away seven years later, she had grown into a 14 year old teenager that was taller than me, yet just as precious and innocent as she had ever been. LaQuisha was mentally challenged. Perhaps this was her gift. Despite her surroundings and circumstances, her simple and beautiful spirit remained unscathed.
Last week, I received word that LaQuisha had mysteriously passed away. Apparently due to “natural causes.” Roy had dropped out of school to take care of her, and perhaps she just couldn’t live without Roy. Roy’s funeral was to be held the very next day, and now became a double funeral. I’m not going to lie, I can’t get past the question of WHY and HOW she died. I am heart-broken. At the same time, I am thankful that at least she is in a place where there is no more pain, no more tears, no more sickness, no more poverty or abuse or neglect. She is with Jesus. Now she is more wealthy than all of us! Her house is bigger, her food is better, and her joy is beyond our comprehension.
I am so blessed to have known LaQuisha as I did. I am so thankful to have been “her Sarah.” I miss her. She was my girl before I ever became a mother to my own girls. Kennedy, my oldest, got to meet her, and I am so glad.
My heart is now stirred to go and find more LaQuisha’s. Every single child matters. Every bit of effort counts. We are all able to make a difference. Let’s all get outside of our own walls and love those who are different from us. Let’s get to the other side of the tracks and see what life is like for “those people.” Whoever “those people” are to you. My life is so much better and has been so enriched because I chose on one Saturday morning to go just a few blocks over from where I lived to attend an inner-city outreach.
That is where I met LaQuisha. She helped me and taught me so much. She was created by God in the image of God and deserved the absolute best that God has. And, now she has it. God is faithful. God always wins, always heals, always redeems.
LaQuisha, this one’s for you, baby girl! XOXO