I visited with an old friend last week. I have known Lu for a dozen years, but it feels like I have known her forever. She is the one woman who can keep me grounded, raise me up when I need it and make me face reality head on.
I love Lu.
I stopped by while she was working, because she is always working. I knew she was going through another family tragedy, not because she had called to complain…she never complains, but because our network of friends have kept me informed.
She is losing another family member soon.
I cannot even venture to guess how many family members she has lost since I have known her. Lu takes them all in stride. She hefts the burdens upon her shoulders and carries them herself so that her other family members can travel a little easier.
The burdens she carries are beyond my perceptions of survival. Yet she does it time and time again, never complaining but praising the Good Lord for giving her the strength to help those in need.
The losses she experiences are often the result of violence. Lu doesn’t live in Detroit or Chicago or Washington D.C. She lives in rural East Texas which carries its own brand of struggle, hatred and oppression.
However, this time the grip of death is happening in a hospital bed in the MD Anderson Cancer Center where her niece impatiently awaits the final visit. She is not even 25, yet she is the mother of three young children fathered by three different young men. Two years ago, one of those young fathers was murdered. Lu was there to heft and carry.
During our visit, Lu told me the story of how this young lady came to be her niece. It was a story new to me. You see, I know Lu’s niece. She was one of mine…one of the many who came to my office to seek understanding, acceptance and belonging. She was a girl I hugged and laughed with and often scolded. Yet, I never knew her real story until two days ago when her Aunt Lu told me of her beginnings.
Her mother was a drug addict in a large Texas city. She gave birth to children, one after another after another. Twelve of them in all.
Then this desperate mother gave away her children, one after another. Twelve of them in all.
Heft and carry, Lu. Respond and raise. Nurture and provide. Love and lose.
Lu is a saint who I am convinced entered my life for a purpose.
She makes me realize my shortcomings and be thankful for my advantages. She makes me ashamed to be the whiner I tend to be. When I complain that life is hard, I just have to stop and think how much more difficult it is for others.
Heft and carry, Lu. Heft and carry.
Someday, if that load gets too heavy for her to manage alone, I hope she will trust me enough to help her heft and carry those burdens.