Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Honoring Lives Well Lived

It has been one week since the senseless shooting and killing of 9 people at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AMC) church in Charleston, SC on June 17, 2015. The news was absolutely devastating to hear that someone did not value the lives of others and chose to murder them. 

Today, I make a deliberate choice to honor their lives. The 9 victims are: Susie Jackson- 87, Daniel Simmons Sr.- 74, Ethel Lance- 70, Myra Thompson- 59, Cynthia Hurd- 54, DePayne Middleton Doctor- 49, Sharonda Coleman Singleton-45, Clementa Pinckney- 41, Tywanza Sanders, 26.  

No, I didn't know them personally, but my heart aches for their families and American society at large. I felt these feelings last Thursday when I heard the news and on Friday as well. With the passage of time, sadness gradually turns to action for me. 

Even in this scenario, when I never met any of these individuals, I desire to do something. I share their stories. I'm connected.

Therefore, I choose to honor the lives of the victims. I choose to play a part in helping to make a positive influence in telling their stories. 

One of those stories is that of Sharonda Coleman Singleton. She was a 45 year old mother of 3 children. She was an associate pastor, speech-language pathologist, track coach, sister, daughter, friend, and woman of God. 

I connect with her not only because I am saddened by the tragedy but also because I share somethings with her. I am a black woman who is also a woman of God, sister, daughter, friend, and speech-language pathologist. I'm not yet a mother, but I'm an aunt to my precious 18 month old niece and other friends' kids in my village. 

I connect with her even more so because I learned last Thursday night that she previously worked as a speech-language pathologist in metro-Atlanta prior to moving to South Carolina in 2007. I read an online article today from People magazine that reported  how she left a voice message for a college friend 2 weeks prior to her death. In it she said, "No matter what happens, all shall be well." She was truly of woman of great faith in God, no matter what.

Do you know what else?

I connect with her because I learned late last Thursday night that she not only worked in metro-Atlanta, but at my same school, in my same office. Her eldest child, who is now in college, attended the elementary school where I work prior to them moving to South Carolina. My co-workers remember Sharonda and her son, Christopher fondly.

When I found that out my heart sank even more, an eerie feeling came over me and I cried. It gave me the chills to know that a woman who loved working with special needs kids like I did, provided speech-language therapy in the same office I do now, and walked in the same elementary school halls, died at the hands of someone demonstrating hate.

I empathize greatly with the pain that Sharonda's kids and loved ones feel in the aftermath of her horrific killing. 

But, guess what? Even though the occurrence of last week is still sad, I am now filled with comfort and peace knowing that Sharonda Coleman Singleton's life was one of hard work, devotion, kindness, and service to others. For that reason, I honor her. May her legacy continue to live on so that others can be positively influenced by the life of service that she lived. May her children continue to grow into young adults with values that their mother, a fellow speech-language pathologist imparted in them. 

I also pray for comfort, strength, and peace for the other families. Myra Thompson was another servant of God, killed last Wednesday night. She devoted her life to church service and was the wife of a minister. I had dinner with her daughter a few weeks ago. Her daughter is a childhood friend of a friend of mine. I read an article from ABC news online in which her son said "What I'm going to miss most about my mom is her enthusiasm and her undeniable faith in the world to succeed." 

I honor Myra Thompson today and pray that God wraps his arms around her family and strengths them each day. May they experience his peace.

I pray for the family of Reverend Clementa Pinckney, the pastor and U.S. Senator from South Carolina. I honor him today.

I pray for the family of Susie Jackson. I honor her today. 

I pray for the family of Daniel Simmons Sr. I honor him today.

I pray for the family of Ethel Lance. I honor her today. 

I pray for the family of Cynthia Hurd. I honor her today. 

I pray for the family of Reverend DePayne Middleton Doctor. I honor her today. 

I pray for the family of Tywanza Sanders. I honor him today. 

So, why do I write this on my speech-language pathology blog? Simple. God's calling on my life is much bigger than serving in my role as a speech-language pathologist although I love my profession. 

I choose to be obedient to God's instructions and direction in my life. So, I write. I tell this story. I write: Honoring Lives Well Lived. 

Tamara Anderson

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