I remember finding a book in my mother’s room. I had to be about 7 years old. My late Uncle Edison had written a book called Curse not the Darkness. Edison L. Hoard was my mother’s brother. My Mother Jeanette was the youngest of 4 children, Eldora, Edison, Howard and Jeanette. Sadly, her mother died when she was eight years old and her dad died while her mother Sadie was pregnant with her. My Uncle had written about this in his book. I felt so proud of my uncle. What I could remember about my uncle was the fact that he worked all the time as an attorney, had a big house, an airplane, and the father of my cousins! He would always ask me “Do you know who I am” I would always say yeah you are Angelique and Michelle’s dad LOL. He would laugh and say I’m your uncle too. That was my first experience with grief. My Uncle that loved my mother so much and she loved him. I felt closer to him just by reading his book.
So why did I start this with Curse not the Darkness? Well it was in this darkness that my faith grew tremendously. Wednesday, February 23, 1994, it was a cold winter day and my little Rosebud would not let me lay her down. Ciara would usually fall asleep in your arms right after taking her bottle and lay down for her nap immediately but this day she kept on fussing, so I picked her up and just rocked her gently in my arms. I had plan to run to the office for the afternoon while her dad watched her and her big brother Bud. Lafayette came in the living room and asked me I thought you were gone? I will leave in a little bit; Ciara just would not let me put her down she keeps on waking up. I remember looking down at her beautiful and peaceful face and laying her in her bassinet for the second time. This time she was sound to sleep. I remember getting to the office and maybe an hour later getting a call to go to the hospital from my mom. I said why Mom? She said just leave now. Being who I am, I didn’t go to the hospital. I went home but I couldn’t go inside. I went to the back of the house and looked in, but I couldn’t see anyone. It was so much snow we had just had a winter storm. I almost fell when I ran to the front of the house. I couldn’t see anything or anybody. I unlocked the door and saw Ciara’s tiny snowsuit on the couch. Why would Lafayette leave without her snowsuit? I ran to the back and saw his truck in its usual spot now I was really perplexed. I remember the devastation and sadness as I tried to piece together the events, the call, the empty house, the snowsuit. What happened to my baby? My world and mind were swirling out of control at this point. All I wanted to do was throw a glass or a dish and scream. As I went to my knees, a hand reached out to me…. Come on baby girl let me take you to the hospital. My dad had circled back to my house to find me after he dropped my mom at the hospital. I can’t remember the ride to the hospital, just darkness in the afternoon and silence. Once I got to the hospital, I remember begging and pleading with the security officer to let me in the room with the doctors. I just wanted to see her if only she could hear my voice everything would be fine. I was walked to a special waiting room I had never seen before. Then the white coats marched in no faces just words, I’m sorry we did all we could do. I collapsed to the floor Lafayette tried to hold me up, but he couldn’t stand any longer himself. He just kept saying I’m trying to be strong for Dina. I’m trying to be strong for Dina. It’s hard to hear a man cry. It pierces your soul. The weeping of a woman is something we have grown accustom to but not the sound a woman makes when her child has died. Its indescribable, it shakes your foundation you are unable to hold back your tears. Now here I was,I was that woman making this sound which left my mother desperately trying to soothe her wounded child. But what can a grandmother do that is also broken because a part of her has died as well. Well it was too much for her because she fainted before she ever made it to me.
The melancholy of lost weighed heavy on my soul. I can’t remember how I made it to my Mom’s house or even getting Bud ready for bed. He was only 2 years old, but I can’t remember eating let alone feeding him. I just sat at the table talking with my family into the night. Then it was just me and my mom. We just sat there at the table as a steady stream of tears flowed from my eyes. She convinced me to go upstairs to her room it was now my dad’s time to talk to me. We talked till the sun came up. I remember hearing the whispers “Has she went to sleep? “How long can she stay up?” “Mom what are we going to do?” I sat there on the bed and rocked not aware of the time or day. I knew the hours were passing because the day turned to night and the night turned day. Then I heard my Mom say he needs you. You must come back; your son needs you. When I opened my eyes, those little hands hugged my neck and I prayed to the Lord and he heard my cry and the Lord comforted me! Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” After being up for 48 hours, I closed my eyes knowing my baby girl was resting in eternity with our Heavenly father. Ciara Alexandria Gatling October 13, 1993 – February 23, 1994.