Thursday, December 29, 2011

Today is a gift




There are so many moments in our lives where we question why things happen. There have been times where I wondered "how did I get here?" and "why me?". I have been reflecting on this year, my relationships, my hopes and dreams. I have had the opportunity to see many of my dreams come true. I am married to a wonderful man. I have been blessed with a spunky little girl. I am able to not only create art, but to walk, paint, laugh and share my life with wonderful family and friends.

In the picture above, I am standing with one if my childhood idols. Yep, we are the same age, but Keasha was always two or three steps ahead and without her knowing made a path for me.

We met in high school at a science and engineering camp at Clemson University. She was so pretty and smart. She graduated from high school a year early, and then majored in engineering. She had her own car, I couldn't even drive yet, and a personalized license plate that some how spelled QT-PIE. And there was no denying she was.

Keasha auditioned for the Rally Cat!s dance team and I auditioned for the cheerleading team. We were the only two African American women on the field at times and there was always a little extra pressure for excellence. We both worked hard made our classmates proud.

We also joined the same sorority and with this new sisterhood, we became good friends. She was there the night of my first college heartbreak and she gave me the confidence to let him know it was his loss!

She was a professional cheerleader for the Charlotte Hornets, 8 years before I ever thought about cheering for the Falcons. But my time at the Falcons is what ironically proved to show how our lives would forever be connected.

While I cheered for the Falcons, I met very few players. I know that seems ridiculous, but I was more interested in my team, my art and my work. The few I did meet, I met through charity events. One of them was named Chris Draft. He was one of the players who really felt like he could use his celebrity to make a difference. I admired that about him. He really liked my artwork and is now one of my largest collectors. My painting, "The Journey", is the logo for his non-profit organization. He eventually was traded to Charlotte, but we would always check in with each other every now and then.

One day I looked at my phone and I had two missed calls. One from Chris and one from Keasha. It was obvious to me that they had met and wanted some background on the other. It was a perfect match made by God.

Over the years, Chris has gone from a collector to my extended family. I have watched their relationship grow in the best and worst of times. A year ago she was diagnosed with lung cancer. I flew to visit her last month and was able to catch up with them both. And they were planning their wedding! I wasn't able to get back to the wedding, but I was there in spirit and lent support to my girlfriends who were working so hard to make her dreams come true.

On Nov. 27, 2011 my friends were married. She died of lung cancer on Tuesday Dec. 27, 2011. Today I am heartbroken.

This is a sad story, but it's also one of hope. While we are here, we can love with all our hearts. We can live each day to the fullest and we can honor those who have touched our lives.

Cancer has taken the life of my husband's father, it affected the life of my father and many family members. I am going to donate a portion of proceeds of my artwork sales to help find a cure. Please keep Keasha's family in your prayers.

Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5 NKJV)


Have a safe and blessed new year. Let's make 2012 one that counts,
Kristye


kristye.com
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kdudley@dorilam.com
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17 comments:

  1. Beautiful tribute Kristye. Keasha was so full of life and that's what I remember the most about her. I had forgotten about her personalized tag. It rang true! Both of you were trailblazers and made all of us proud to be Clemson Tigers and AKAs. :-)

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  2. Kristye, you've done a fantastic job honoring Soror Keasha. You've honored her in the spirit of excellence. Thank you for that. God bless you and God bless Chris.

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  3. Kristye, I am a complete stranger to you but we are connected by the bond of sisterhood that embodies Alpha Kappa Alpha. I learned of the death of Keasha Draft via Facebook. I watched the wedding video and the photo montage and became drawn to her smile and energy. Who knew we were also connected by the sisterly bond of Alpha Kappa Alpha. I can only be in awe of the strength and courage she had...amazing. How beautiful she was on her wedding day! May God keep you during this difficult time and may God give her husband the peace that surpasses all understanding.

    Rest in Peace Soror Keasha, Ivy Beyond the Wall.

    Soror Katrina,
    Hyattsville MD

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing your friend Keasha's beautiful story. It is even more moving to know the amazing young woman behind the pictures and the video. I have never been blessed to know either her or Chris personally, but like so many others, I have been drawn to their beautiful lives and spirits by this wonderful love story, shared by their family and loved ones.

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  5. What a beautiful and touching story. Thanks so much for sharing.

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  6. Thank you for the kind words and support during this time. I am so thankful for my sorority sisters and for all of the wonderful people I have met through my blog. Continue to keep her family in your thoughts and prayers.

    Sincerely,
    Kristye

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  7. I am blessed to have come across this blog post. Keasha seemed an awesome person and her spirit is clearly evident in each of your moving words in this post. As a 30 something year old, African American women that fought cancer, my heart aches to see someone so full of life, be taken away so soon. I like you have pledged to donate a portion of my proceeds from my website to cancer research and will light a candle in Keasha's honor.

    Thank you for sharing.....
    -Nicole (Dazzled and Fabulous)
    www.dazzledandfabulous.blogspot.com

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  8. May your family & her family be comforted by the resurrection hope. John 5:28, 29/ Acts 24:15

    Remembrance

    Your loved one is gone,
    But we won’t forget.
    Their laugh, their smile
    Their face, their grace.

    Your loved one is gone
    But we won’t forget.
    The good times, the bad times,
    The fears, the tears.

    (c) 2001 Cagedbird

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  9. What a beautiful love story. Chris may the memories and love you shared with your wife sustain you today and always.

    God Bless You.

    From a total stranger in Houston, TX.
    Thanks for sharing.

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  10. Thank you so much for opening up and sharing your friendship. Keasha sounds like she was an amazing woman who endured trials in life with a smile. My heart goes out to all of you. She inspires me to see that someday, perhaps, a young man will be willing to overlook my cancer diagnosis and see me for who I really am. I loved Keasha's smile.

    (HUGS)

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  11. Thank you for sharing Chris and Keasha's love story. I've watched the video on FB and it's so touching. Thanks for an inspiring and uplifting tribute. We've met once years ago at a Jazz Luncheon. I attended South Carolina State University with your husband and your mother is in my chapter (ETO).

    God bless Soror,

    Soror Erica

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  12. Melissa Diane HudsonDecember 31, 2011 at 1:01 PM

    I do not know this young lady but the article was very hearbreaking and touched my spirit tremendously. I am truly lost with words because her wedding love story is almost similar to my book's ending. The book is entitled,"BLACK WEDDING VEIL: beauty is the den of death and the body is the road to the grave". The book was written back in 2005. I never knew that some point in life that my book's ending could be someone's reality: extremely vivid that is taking me by surprise. I know this young lady is in a better place and her soul is at peace. May God bless her soul.

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  13. Dellena Wyman PriesterDecember 31, 2011 at 6:39 PM

    Kristye, this was truly beautiful!! I remember Keasha as always being full of life and pretty as she could be. :-) Thanks for sharing. Please keep me posted if someone starts a fund/charity or a donation to the Cancer Society in her honor. Love you much and God Bless!!

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  14. I just learned of the love story of Chris and Keasha. I watched the video and cried so much. I kept thinking--"wow she is so full of life and so beautiful". I did not know Soror Keasha but your tribute on this blog brought her spirit to life. Thanks for sharing a little bit of your friendship with the world. God bless you and the Families of Chris and Keasha... Soror Lisa, Birmingham AL

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  15. I have really been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love for Keasha and her family. There will be opportunities to donate to a scholarship for Keasha at our alma mater Clemson University and to her husband's non-profit that I will post as I learn more information. Thanks to each of you.

    Be blessed and in all things give thanks,
    Kristye

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  16. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story of life well lived, God never makes mistakes we are all just passing through on our way to our home in eternity. May God continue to give all of her family and friends strength to endure during this time of sorry.

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  17. such an amazing story.. chris and i send our love and condolences.

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