Friday, December 16, 2005

Telling Tondrea Goodbye

It is still hard for me to believe that such a vibrant young individual could be struck down and killed by a hit-and-run driver in the late afternoon last Thursday in Suitland. I went to Tondrea’s funeral today. I really hate funerals, probably because the bodies look so unreal and so very dead to me. In this case in particular, I don’t think I had ever seen Tondrea still, not talking. She had an infectious grin and a ready hug for everyone she met. She had hair extensions which resulted in a lot of long braids. Today she had only short hair and her mouth and eyes were forever closed. Instead of her hip jeans, she had on a suit. It was Tondrea’s face, definitely, but she was gone somewhere else.

I was one of the few white faces in a sea of about 600 black people. Some were dressed to the nines. Others wore jeans. Some carried small children. Others walked with canes. Tondrea had no shortage of family, friends, and coworkers who cared deeply about her. The most perplexed face I saw was that of her 2-year-old grandchild, Ja’miya, the daugher of Aisha, who is permanently paralyzed from a stray bullet in July. First her mother was taken from her, and now her grandmother. She was in the arms of what appeared to be an aunt and had a blank look on her face.

I stood in the back of the church and watched people file past the casket. For a while I was totally detached, thinking more about the people who where there in this awful neighborhood than about Tondrea. Then someone began to sob openly, and I found hot tears welling up in my eyes. As they began to sing Amazing Grace as the casket was wheeled down the aisle, everyone’s tears were flowing.

Tondrea was the eternal optimist. I can remember hearing her say,

I’m going to catch up on all my bills.
We are going to Florida in January. I want my kids to see Disneyworld.
Aisha is going to walk again.
I AM going to get a promotion.

Of course, none of these things ever happened. But she would always just flash that smile and say, “God is good to me. Yes, he is.”

She wouldn’t have wanted tears at her funeral. She would have preferred to see us dancing with each other. God, I am going to miss this wonderful woman. Through her I saw the truth of just how hard it would be to be black in America today. If there is a heaven, I know that Tondrea is there. I hope her life after death will be easier than was her life here on earth. May she rest in peace...


Blogger Aries Business Solutions said...

She was a very unique lady. Tondrea is my daughters Aunt. She spent the summer two summers ago with her favorite Auntie. Tondrea will be missed.

10:49 PM  

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