You know how you need to do something but you'll find any and everything to avoid it? I've been writing this for three months now. I'll start then stop.
Scared of how the waves of grief may pull me under.
Frightened that my words cannot remotely capture the richness of Danielle's impact on my life.
Devastated that I'll never talk to her again.
This is definitely one of those do it afraid moments.
I first laid eyes on Danielle in April of 2006. She was on stage at Central High School as she & her line sisters were being presented to the campus as the newest members of Delta Sigma Theta. Honestly, I was jealous. Not of her specifically but of them as a whole. I applied but had not been picked. I had still had shown up to support friends who had made it & lay my eyes on the others.
Facebook was over a year old so I went on a "friending" spree to learn more about the girls who had been named D.E.S.T.I.N.Y.
I was intrigued by Danielle. She was smart, really a genius. Her line name was Prodigy. Danielle traveled abroad, pledged and received her bachelors and masters in the same year all with her toddler Amaya by her side.
I met Danielle when I crossed Delta. Her spirit was warm and her smile infectious. We'd like each others stuff here and there on Facebook. She got married & had two more children, Isaiah & Carter Mackenzie.
Danielle sent me DM in January of 2013 asking me about the women's ministry, Beloved, that I started back in 2011. She was interested in getting something similar started in Memphis where she was living. Our mutual friend April had been talking to both of us about each other for years so it felt like we already knew one another. After messaging one another for a few hours, we exchanged numbers. I had just gone through a divorce. Danielle was at the tail end of hers.
We were both trying to make sense out of our pain.
We both knew that if we kept pressing, we'd emerge into light.
By the end of the conversation, we'd decided that her women's group would be an extension of what I began in Birmingham, Beloved Memphis.
When you are always a rock for everyone around you, people expect you to have it together. Especially in ministry. I didn't have to be that with Danielle. We esteemed one another even in our not so pretty humanity.
There was an incident that had me looking like a straight up mad woman, kicking trash literally through the yard of the house my ex-husband and I owned. Although I didn't realize it at the time, Danielle saw that I had fallen into a depression.
I came home one day to a prayer box she made for me. Every scripture was personalized with my name in it. I sobbed as I read each and every slip of paper. I wasn't feeling loved by God because of what I was going through. Dani knew I needed to SEE it.
Her kids are precocious, funny, and beautiful inside and out. We often joked about it sounding like Animal Planet in her home. Isaiah would get up early before his sisters & watch Danielle get ready for work. He held doors for us even when he was a little bitty thing. Amaya read along with us in her bible during our studies. Carter's charming personality shined even while she was praying our food. Anyone that spent any time with them knew that Danielle was a present and involved mother. She made parenting look effortless. I know it took a lot of work but she was just graced to be their mama.
Life happened, focuses changed & we didn't talk as much as we used to. I was trying to get my book done & Danielle began doing missions work overseas. We were happy that the other was doing what sparked joy within our hearts. Videos + messages from Priscilla Shirer, our girl crush, stayed in our texts & "I'm proud/happy for you" were constant in our conversations.
I found out around 11 am on December 21st that Danielle died in a plane crash the day before. Five days before Christmas. Three & four days before Carter's & Amaya's birthday. I had to call to tell April on her birthday that Danielle had died. I didn't want her to find out on social media. Holidays are such tricky time for me because I'm already dealing with the weight of m