When you meet a remarkable person, you kinda just know. I sized her up pretty quickly, had no idea we’d become friends. She was the mail clerk at the post office on campus, who I ended up talking to one day when I went to pick up my mail. If you know me at all, you know that I do that. I love to connect with people, so if you’re open, I’ll typically know your whole life story by the time we part. She was no different, well, that’s not true. She was likely more open than anyone I had met (until I realized who her mother was. She is one of the most awesome creations of God. Loving, warm, supportive, and holds a perspective that allows her to see light in the darkest places… I digress…) By the time I left with my mail, I knew that she had served our country, that her children had an African-American daddy, and had seen pictures of her adorable daughters that she so clearly loved from the bottom of her heart…
Fast forward five years to 2013… Being the recovering hermit that I am, who rarely talks on the phone, Facebook has become my social life. 🙂 For me, it has the amazing ability to unify and connect people who typically would not interact much, for one reason or another. It’s the perfect meetup for the socially inept, lol, and I am proud to say that it was through Facebook that I developed an amazing friendship with Anna Harvey.
Through “the book” we shared personal trials and triumphs, supported each other through life events, and became very close. If you are one of my Facebook friends, you will see she has commented on just about every photo or status update regarding my comedic little one. She was one of my closest friends and such an example of a driven and loving mom. Raising her daughters by herself, she had recently returned to school to pursue her true passion. I was so proud of her because it is not easy to take on a task like that as a single mom. In addition to her other awesome qualities, it really stood out to me how committed she was to instilling cultural pride in her daughters. The message of my book, I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! was a message she constantly drilled into her children long before the book was ever written. As a Caucasian woman, raising two biracial daughters on her own, she made it her business to teach her daughters to be proud of their African-American heritage. That is really awesome to me.
We spoke every week through Facebook likely several times so it bothered me when I hadn’t heard from her. It felt like at least two weeks, which never happened before so I went on her page to find her, like how “regular” people pick up the phone and call. What I saw was so eerie. An empty feeling washed over me as I scrolled through her page seeing what seemed to be “rest in peace” messages. I kept scrolling wondering who had passed away until I saw a message, “Happy Mother’s Day in heaven.” I began to scroll faster until I saw… and I have to pause and shake my head as my eyes tear up all over again… a very tasteful photo of a casket with a large photo of my dear friend, Anna Harvey, on an easel standing close by. My heart dropped, I kept scrolling, thinking, “Wait. That’s impossible. I have to see what happened. How could this be?” Then, I saw the article, clicked on it and read it. My dear friend lost her life on her birthday doing what she loved—riding her bike. I was speechless. I am still speechless. No illness, no lead up, no warning. No time to prepare. No time to see this as a possibility. Just gone. Already buried. Gone. I fell apart….
The lesson, if any, in all this is that life is short, way shorter than we think. We have to live our lives fully, love those we care about openly, as if we don’t know that we’ll have another opportunity. It’s time to stop putting off ’til tomorrow what we could do today, toward our dreams, toward expressing our passions, toward sharing our gifts. It’s time to stop being too scared to love again, too worried to take a chance and do that thing that we’ve always wanted to do. It’s time to start saying, “I love you” back to that person whose love we take for granted. It’s time to start living life “no holds barred” as if we know this could be our last opportunity. We have more to gain than lose when we live that way. Anna taught me that. I won’t let her death be in vain. I learned from her that life is too short, so we should spend it doing what we love.