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Remembering Toni

Everyday I wake up and I say thank you to the power that hold my life in his hands.  I am grateful.  I am grateful for many things, but one of the things that I most grateful for is my best friend Toni.

I lost Toni a few years ago and my life was devastated.  We were like blood sisters.  We had our spats, but we loved each other.

Three days of the year I will never work and I don’t care who likes it and who doesn’t.  It comes with me as part of my package.  I don’t work on MLK day, my birthday, or Toni’s anniversary.  I think about all of the fun we had together and all of the secrets that we shared.  I go back and read the journals from 1982 and I crack up.  We were some crazy ass chicks.  I loved every minute of it.  I would be lying if I said that I wouldn’t change a thing.  I would love her harder.  If I knew back then what I know today, I would have spent so much more time with her.  Her last birthday we had so much fun.  I was already 42 and she was just turning 40.  We laughed about how we couldn’t wait to be 16 and then 18 and then 21.  I can still feel her hug.  It was so close and genuine and what I needed.

Toni was like my superhero cape.  I was invincible when we were together.  On the day that she transitioned I was working from home.  I had been in the dumps all day and I didn’t know why. My husband decided to take off from work and stay home with me.  I was finishing up some work and we were going to go out and shop for a few hours.  I was literally locking the door when the house phone rang.  I went back in to answer it and what I heard on the other end changed my life forever.

I only remember saying that I was on my way.  I knew that it was too late and that she was already gone, but I was going to her house anyway.  I needed to check on my God-children and her mother and I needed to know for myself that my friend, my sister, my confidant was really gone.

I saw them taking her body from her apartment and putting her into the coroners wagon.  I still didn’t believe it.  I stood alone trying to gather my thoughts and I heard her voice as clear as day. “I’m ok now. Don’t worry about me.  It is beautiful here.  I love you.”  I wanted to be mad at her for leaving me.  How could I though?  I knew what her body had been through.  I knew what she was going through emotionally, physically, spiritually.  I knew.  I had seen it.  I smiled, found my husband, let him take my hand.  What do you say in that situation?  Nothing if you know me.  That was my time to reflect and to think and to greive and he let me do all of that.

Two days later I get the call asking me to deliver my best friends eulogy.  Do what?  I don’t even go to funerals.  I can’t.  How?  No.  Find someone else.  I’m not attending a funeral.  She and I had talked about it and neither of us wanted a funeral.  Neither of us understood funerals. Can’t do it.  I’m sorry.  Then I got the call again. I surrendered.  What was I going to say?

I don’t know what I said.  I just know that in the week leading up to the memorial service I witnessed the lights in my house blinking on and off and then something would happen to remind me of a time we shared.  A song would come on the radio. A commercial that I had not seen in years would play.  Something we talked about would come up in conversation on a television show. It was very strange.  It was her way of letting me know that she was with me.

I remember mentioning the blinking lights as I spoke and then it happened.  The lights in the funeral home began to blink on and off.  I heard gasps and then I could hear a pin drop.  I smiled.  We had an understanding her and me.  We still do.

I love you LaTonya Renee Houston.  I always have and I always will.  I will never forget you or the way that you impacted and changed my life.

Peace and hair grease.

Your girl,

The Writer

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