December 31, 2019, I was sitting on my couch waiting in anticipation for the new year to begin. I don’t make resolutions, but I always vow to myself to grind a little harder and exceed my expectations from the year before. When the clock reached midnight, I yelled to myself Happy New Year. 🥳🥳 I was excited for what the new year would bring. I anticipated great things would happen, and it did. It brought some things that I welcomed with open arms, but it also brought heartache and pain that I wish I could rewind the clock back to December 31, 2019 and push pause forever.
The year always begins celebrating my mother. Her birthday is January 9th. Celebrating birthdays are very important to me. I believe that each day we open our eyes is a blessing. If you know my mother, you know she is worthy of celebration. She is genuine and has a heart of gold. She will do what she can to help anyone in need and will do it without expecting anything in return.
Along came February. I experienced what would be my first heartache of the year. My brother, Maury, wanted my mom and I to get a new dog. It had been a few years since we’ve had one. June 2019, Maury brought this bushy white puppy to us. Immediately, I fell in love. We named him Patrick. Even though I’ve grown up with dogs and always had a love for them, he was my first fur baby. Every day, he would greet me at my truck when I pulled into the yard. We’d play in the yard for the longest time. He was always doing something silly or getting my mom upset because he was tearing things up. 🤣 When I was away from home, I was calling to check on him or to FaceTime to see him. I loved watching him grow.
February 4 is a day I’ll never forget. I received a message from a neighbor. She said her mom saw what she believed to be Patrick lying on side of the road, and it appeared he was bleeding. I was at my part time and unable to leave. My heart was beating so fast. It seemed like the clock wasn’t moving fast enough. I needed to get home to see if it was my Patrick. Since I was at work, Tara said that she and her husband would go back to see if it was him. Sadly, it was. By the time they’d made it back, he’d crawled into the woods. Tara and Chris were so kind. They went into the dark woods to find exactly where he laid. Kindly, they left a marker by the entrance of the woods for me to find him when I got off work. By this time, he was weighing almost 70 pounds or more. I knew it would be difficult for me to pull him out alone. I called another neighbor to get assistance to help pull him out because I needed to take him to the vet. When I saw him, I was saddened. Patrick was bleeding and tangled in briar patch. Immediately, I ran to unravel him. His lower back and back legs were broken. We placed a tarp under his body to attempt to pull him out, but he would not allow us to move him. He was in pain. Each time we tried to move him, he’d attempt to bite my neighbor. My neighbor was afraid of being bitten. He said it was nothing he could do and went back to his home.
At this time, it was only Patrick and I in the woods. It was late, but didn’t want to leave him. It began to rain, and I had to leave. It rained extremely hard all night long. Normally, the rain puts me to sleep, but this time was different. All night, all I could think about was my baby in pain, in the rain, bleeding, and suffering all alone. The next morning, I went back into the woods to see if he’d let me move him. I was willing to do it all alone. I didn’t care if it took me all day long. He looked up at me. For a brief moment, there was happiness in his eyes when he saw me. I think to myself that he was thinking momma did not forget about me. The happiness was brief because he was almost lifeless. I talked to him and told him I loved him. He gave me his paw. My heart melted. My heart was broken. I was angry at whoever hit him. He was big dog. There was no way that he would not have been seen him. I made one of the hardest decisions ever in my life. I was criticized by some, but I hated to see him suffering. I left my house (I didn’t want to hear what was about to happen) and called my uncle. I had him to send him to dog heaven. 🥺🥺😭
A few weeks later, things began to look up. I’d finished all courses and had a sufficient GPA to graduate from the University of Mississippi in August 2019. Unfortunately, I still had an outstanding balance. My diploma would not be mailed until the balance was paid in full. Two of my brothers, Juan and Jason, contributed towards the balance as a graduation present. I was thankful and appreciative for their help. Each month, I made payments until it was “0”. When I did, I received an email asking me to begin graduation process. You talk about excitement and overwhelmed with joy. It was a long time coming. The first person I went to see and tell was my grandmother. I told her I have some exciting news to share with you. She said what is it baby. I said it’s official. You are looking at graduate of the University of Mississippi. If you know me and my grandma, you know we were in the room balling our eyes out. She said I’m so proud of you Carman. I knew you could do it. You stuck it out and hung in there. We cried a little more. I was happy that I’d made her proud.
Little did I know, this visit would be close to the last one inside. The week of March 13, the world changed. The world experienced a pandemic. It would be called Covid-19 or the coronavirus. It was highly contagious and deadly. Health officials didn’t know how to combat it. It was something that not even my parents had experienced in their lifetime.
The entire world was shut down. Schools were closed. Students finished the semester virtually. My oldest daughter, Destinee, was graduating from the University of Mississippi in May. We were excited about her completing her undergraduate and becoming a teacher. Graduation were cancelled because CDC did not allow large gatherings. The graduation would later be done virtually. That was only one of the moments that was taken from us. Since large gatherings were banned, our family gatherings were banned. My parents have eight children, nineteen grandchildren, and in-laws. This meant there would be no Long sumner vacation for 2020. All sporting events were canceled. No games were played (from pee wee to professional). Restaurants closed, and some never reopened. Traveling was put on hold. No one was allowed to enter hospitals or nursing home unless you were an employee, patient, or resident. Funerals were graveside. Church service were moved to online. Gyms were closed. There would no concerts. CDC advised states to mandate the residents wear mask and practice social distancing by staying at least 6 feet apart from the next person. I’m a hugger. This was hard and still hard for me. Any business that wasn’t considered “essential” was closed. The world was not and will not ever be the same.
Many jobs that physically closed had employees work from home if it was possible. I am employed at a bank and part time at a gas station. Both jobs were considered “essential” and never closed. A lot of people assume that banking is easy because we are inside a building, sitting in an office, or behind teller row. Studies show if you work in the financial industry that you are in one of the highest mentally stressful jobs. Add a pandemic on top of that. It’s even more stressful. A lot of people assumed the world was ending or that it would be another Great Depression. People were calling or coming in concerned about their accounts. We were taking customers by appointments only. Each day, my calendar remained full. It was hectic. The gas station was just as busy. Many people were laid off and were home. They drank and smoke more. Beer and tobacco sales increased meaning that I was constantly busy there too.
I am not complaining. I am thankful for jobs that supplies for me and my children needs. When the pandemic began, I was not physically able to see them. Not being able to see my children nor hug my grandmother at nursing home was the most depressing thing for me. If anyone knows me, you know that my family is everything it me. I was able to call and FaceTime my children and call my grandma. If we visited, we had to go around the back of the building where her room was and talk through the window. I was grateful for the calls and window visits to each, but those are not the same as physical seeing them or being able to put my around them. That was all I wanted to do, but the coronavirus stopped it all. My heart was aching. My weekly lunches with my son had stopped. My Saturday visits with my grandma were gone. Her health was declining. Eventually, she stopped answering calls. 😭😭 Mentally, I was crying inside, but I was smiling outside. I was a zombie. I was going through the motions and monotony of life just to make it through the day.
It was a few months before I was able to see my children in person. For me, it was like giving birth again. When you’re in delivery, you are excited about being able to finally see your child’s face for the first time. Just as I did each time I gave birth and saw their face, I cried. My heart was happy. It gave me strength to keep going. It was the push I needed.
Sadly, the next time I was able to hug my grandmother was at the hospital. I mentioned her health declining. In June, the nursing home called my aunts, uncles, and father. My grandmother was at the point of death. They had to decide if they would leave her at the nursing home or transfer her to the hospice floor at the hospital. If she remained at the nursing home, all we’d be able to do was look at her through the window from outside. Nursing home still were not allowing visitors to enter in. The decision was made to transfer her to the hospital. With her being at the hospital, we were able to visit and spend the night with her. I was finally able to physical hug her. Our family took turns spending the night. I had the privilege of being assigned two nights. Regardless of the night assignment, I was going to visit each day after work. Each day, her health was declining, and it hurt to see her lying in bed not being her jovial self.
When I would visit her each week, I had a ritual as I prepared to leave until the next visit.I’d say El (Her name is Elnora). I’m about to go. Don’t be in here trying to catch a man. She’d laughed and say stop that gal. You know the only man I need is Jesus. I’d say yes ma’am. I know. I’d bend down to hug her, kiss her, tell her I loved her, and to be sweet. Her response would always be” we love you too.” I would be so tickled at her saying we love you too because it was only her. My grandfather had been deceased since 1997. I never corrected her. I let her say what she wanted. She’d continue the goodbyes saying Carman come me when you have time. Baby. Grandma know you’re busy with those jobs and those kids. I’d say yes ma’am, but you know I’ll be back next week. Even though she was in the hospital, our ritual was still the same. The only difference was I said I’ll see you tomorrow instead of next week. I’ll never forget her last words to me. I said and did my usual ritual. This time there was no laugher behind my comment. Softly and the last thing she ever spoke to me was this. “You look pretty. Grandma loves you too.” 😭😭 I’ll never forget that moment. She never spoke to me again. Instead, she was in the bed moaning in pain. I would rub her arms and head. I’d talk to her hours. I felt in my heart she was listening. June 29, my grandma exhaled her last breath and went to be with Jesus. Knowing that she loved me and was in heaven was the only thing that gave me peace. 😭😭😭 I was breaking inside.
In the midst of the pandemic, more chaos was still happening in the United States. There were police shooting and senseless murders from citizens on minorities. I’m sure you’ve heard of Breanna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery, but what about Carlos Carson or Jonathan Price? I had several Caucasian friends that reached out to me. They apologized for the senseless murders. We were supposed to meet and discuss on how to make the world a better place. Unfortunately, the meetings never happened. I know each person that reached out had good intentions. For them, life went on. For me, it couldn’t. I birthed three African American children. I used to worry only for my son. Now, I have to worry about my daughters getting murdered as well. Therefore, it is an issue that I can’t ever forget and just move on with life. Every day and every night, I pray that my children return back safely to their beds each night and open their eyes to see another day.
Life became overwhelming. I was as the point of a meltdown. I was not mentally stable. I was putting on the smile, but I was grieving. I’d lost both grandmothers exactly two weeks apart. Muh and I weren’t related by blood, but I loved her just the same. This year, I’d lost two aunts and an uncle, and people I’ve known for years( In December, I lost a cousin from Covid), I was stressed with both jobs. I was stressed because of how Covid changed the world and how it was affecting the changes in my life. Everything that had given me peace was paused temporarily or stopped (no gym, no movies, no concerts, no family trips, limited time with my kids). I was unable to sleep. Many nights, I cried myself to sleep.
Let me rewind the clock for a moment. I have struggled with my weight for years. I gained a lot of weight after my divorce. A few years after that, my thyroids were removed as a health precaution. I don’t know if you know, but thyroids help regulate the body’s metabolism. Therefore, losing any weight is more difficult for me. In previous years, I’d say I wanted to lose weight, but I didn’t remain committed. Around October 2019, I’d taken charge of my health and was dedicated. Faithfully, I was going to the gym between three to five times a week. I began cooking for my mother and I. Cooking used to be my least favorite thing to do. I began to enjoy it and trying new recipes. I was seeing a doctor regarding my obesity. I was seeing a nutritionist to help me with healthy options. The deaths of Patrick, loved ones, and friends and all the other stress of life halted me. The gym reopened in June, but I’d lost my drive to go. Also, I no longer cooked either. I went to see my therapist. She said Carman. You’re depressed. You’re grieving. You’re hurt. You’ve gone through a lot. On top of those things, I had to hire a lawyer for some personal things. Here, I was thinking that I was just sad. In actuality, I was clinically depressed. I was going through a lot. She advised me to put me first and to take a step back from everything. She told me to take time off of work from both jobs and suggested I start taking anti-depression medicine. She said you know it’s not a sin. We laughed. I said I know. I’ve seen her for eight years. She’s helped me deal with a divorce, break ups, work issues (anything you can name) This was the first time that she’s ever advised me to take off work for a few weeks and to take medicine. I took her advice on both. I took off work for four weeks, and I saw a doctor that prescribed me antidepressants. I began taking them.
2020 was not all bad. I had a lot of bumps in the road, but I a had a lot of highs. I joined a new church in January, The Sycamore. I received my diploma from the University of Mississippi. I had some amazing photo shoots. I utilized the gifts that God gave me( blogging, doing professional photography, and creating my website. www.lovingallofcarman.com). I wrote about it in a previous blog if you missed it. If so, I’d love for you to go back and read it.
2020 took a lot out of me, but it still provided great blessings. I learned that it is ok to take a mental break and put myself first. 2021 is only two days away. I know that it will also have ups and down. I know through it all that I will survive. I will enjoy life and make the best out of every situation and opportunity. I look forward to celebrating and the anticipation of 2021 it as I did 2020. The only difference is that I won’t be on the couch this year. I’ll be bringing in the new year in another country. ☺️☺️☺️. With alllll of this being said, Happy New Year everyone. May God continue to bless us all. Let’s walk into the new year (2021) with great expectations and no extra baggage!!!!!!🥳🥳🥳