Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"Weren't Ready For Seein' Angels"

" The Lord Puttin Angels In Our Lives Everyday,But We Don't Even See Them 'Til They Leavin Anyway."

November 28, 2011 was my 44th birthday. I had taken the day off so I could sleep in and enjoy what would be the tail end of a 5 day weekend. For my birthday I just wanted to waste the day relaxing and bailing off all of my responsibilities. I jumped out of bed with Pajama's still to see my daughter back off to college. She was driving back that morning and needed to leave early in the commute to make her hour and a half trip so she cold make it to work on time. Hugged her goodbye..."I Love You"
and she was out of the door.
I went to the living room and sat in my overstuffed recliner and listen to the new to find out the weather of the day. I started to doze of when my phone rang. It was one of my "Sistas." She asked how I was doing and I told her I was "ok." and asked how she was doing. She got silent.... so much so that I said... "Hello?..." She said... "did you get a call this morning?" I told her no and looked at my phone for any voice mails or missed message. There were none. She got really quiet again. "Hello... I said... are you still there?" She was.
I heard her choke -up... She said she was sorry and got quiet again.
Finally she told me... "Morgan Harwell died, Karyn. Im sorry to tell you."

"WHAAAAAAAAAAAT???" I sat up in my chair and closed my eyes.
"Morgan passed away last night. I'm so, So Sorry!"
I belong to the LDS Genesis Group. For 7 years I was the Genesis Youth Advisor. I was called to have fellowship charge on teens/ from the age of 12-18. When I first got called I only had a few youth. about 7. Through out the years the group would grow to about 47 kids. Half of them I would see on a regular basis. We met the first Sunday of each month from 7pm-8:30 pm and every third Saturday we had an activity.
Morgan was well known, mostly for being a pain in the butt. But I saw a different kid. I took personal notice of him when he was about 10 years old. He was mischievous and somewhat devious kind of like myself. He really did remind me of me. No one really seemed to listen to him and he was always in some kind of trouble or always having to be talked to about something. Anytime there was an activity I could always here his mom or dad... Morgan! Morgan..! Morgan! No matter how much of a pain he was, he always did what I asked of him, listened to what I told him. I Liked hanging out with him and watching him annoy others. And when he got frustrated I'd drape my arm around him and and say... "Let's go for little walk or have a little talk." I also liked observing him because he did things with a purpose and not many people recognized the purpose.When I started to notice him and hear what he wasn't saying, I felt he was Genius. He Now at the young age of 21... He was dead. I didn't get much details from my Sista but I could tell she was concerned for me because I kind of just sat and said.. "humph" Again she asked me Are you ok? Because that was, like, your son!" I told her "
yes, I'm ok, but I think I'm in shock and may be in trouble later."

She said she had a meeting to go to and would stop by later tonight, and said our Goodbyes.

I'm not sure how long I sat in stillness and silence but I could feel a thunder starting to rumble in my heart and I knew there was going to be an internal storm. Tears started to well up in my eyes and gritted my teeth and forced them back down. I began to shake. If you know me, You know I don't do death well. See 2009 blog:

I picked up my phone and called my Sister. She answered the phone Cheerfully singing... "Happy Birthday to you..... HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU...." And then the storm in my heart unleashed.... I can't say that I experienced such gut wrenching heartbreaking cries I can't remember feeling such heart ache. My mind was flashing all the memories I had of him and how much I loved this kid. I couldn't speak, I just cried. The more I tried to say something the harder it was. I wanted to get something out because I know with the way I was carrying on she was thinking something happened to my daughter. I was able to squeak out.... "Tamu called....and about 2 minutes later... Morgan died.." All she got was Tamu Called. She told me I needed to breath... and i couldn't. the more I tried to catch air it was just short puffs of breath that weren't working.
She finally said.. "Hang up the hone, I'm on my way"
I hung up the phone, fell to my knees and cried a cried I had NEVER cried before. I don't think I could have cried more if it were my own flesh and blood. And the more I thought of it being my birthday the more I cried. It didn't feel right. It didn't feel fair. I refused to celebrate it. I wanted to focus on this young man's family.
I sobbed and sobbed for about 20 minutes then it stopped. I tried desperately to catch my breath as I felt my heart Ice over. I sat back in the chair and stared at the walls.
After a while, Im not sure how long, my phone rang. It was my sister she was down in the lobby. I buzzed her in and sat right back in my chair and stared at the floor.
Slowly (like now...) tears began to well up in my eyes and my breath was shaken. "I refuse to feel this pain any more" I told myself. My sister looked over at me and said... "LET IT OUT, DON"T HOLD IT IN" I wailed.
I never knew a heart could hurt so much. It scared me. How could I survive a parent, sibling or child passing away?
"Ain't no use trying to be strong for anyone we all need to just let it out. And if that's all crying together then so be it" I continued to cry. She sat with me most of the day. Then my Sista Natalie dropped by. She remembers Morgan's parent's bringing him home at the age of 6 weeks old and she used to baby sit him and his brothers when they were babies.
Late morning, about 10:30 my phone would present 4voice mails and missed calls from as early as 7:45. All from Natalie trying desperately to give me the news.
I spent the day Crying and napping. And then napping and Crying. My sisters Lyn, Natalie and Tamu rotated in and out of my house all day to make sure I wasn't home alone for very long. As word got out I received emails, texts and other messages making sure I was alright and not alone. I began to feel guilty at so much love and care being presented towards me. I worried about the family and hoped they were getting as much. It would be they who would have the biggest holes in their hearts.
At some point I was in my bedroom, I don't remember when I went back and layed down but I curled up in a ball hugging my Raggedy Ann Dolls. (God and Raggedy Ann are the go to people when I get like this.)Tears rolled down my face in a steady stream. And then I heard him say... "I'm ok. I never realized how many people loved me. Help my mom Have peace."

(Morgan Lyle Harwell)

"Help my mom have peace" it was so like him. The things I heard him say the most... "Where's my mom?" "Have you seen my mom?" "I need to find my mom." The next thing I heard him say most was... "Where's Richard?" "Have you seen Richard?" He loved his family. His Mama was his heart, and Richard was his comfort when Mom wasn't around. He loved them all unconditionally, even when he was upset with them. He held no grudges.
I spent most of the day in memories of him, which would include memories of most of my Genesis Youth. And I started to think about them all. When I was their adviser there was nothing I wouldn't do for them.(Well,legal ;) For the most part I still try and keep track of them. I would still do anything I could for them. I love them all and I hoped they knew it then and still know it. That is regardless of whatever path they're on or chose to take. Anytime I saw Morgan I made sure he knew I cared. Sometimes I feel there was more I could have done but isn't there always. I know he knew I cared for him and that gives me peace. I want to make sure they all know this.
The week was filled with sorrow, sadness and tears trying to stay busy and make sure assignments were carried out. It was a busy week for the LDS Genesis Group because the Annual Christmas Party was Saturday, The Genesis Meeting Sunday, and The Funeral would be Monday Dec 5th. There was a great desire to be with Genesis Family. To hold each other up where ever it was needed.
Friday we went and saw the family. Everyone was looking well, able to laugh and smile. Full of hugs and love. Everyone except Richard. I don't like how he looked and it broke my heart to know his heart was suffering. As we sat in their home I was filled with a spirit of peace and comfort and laughter. Seeing them began to heal my heart. I needed them in my mourning process.
Saturday was the Day of the Annual Party. It was an awesome party... Santa clause bailed at the last minute. This party is always stress and always a lot of work. Handing out toys to about 100 kids. Me, on a broken foot was responsible for handing out toys, preparing and decorating the stage for Santa and pictures, sorting the toys into age groups and helping in the Kitchen. I was overwhelmed as Im sure everyone was. Heavenly Father sent Angels to help. As Morgan's family came into town they jumped right in. When the time for Santa came, I found 3 angels.. one dressed up as the prettiest elf I've ever seen, helping hand out the toys for Santa. His family came to lay a loved one to rest and ended up serving, Just like Jesus Our Savior. My heart was slowly beginning to heal.

Sunday was the Genesis Meeting. I wasn't particularly going for the meeting. Sometimes you just need to be with your people. Sunday, I needed to be with my people. There is a certain way black people mourn and it's unlike or Caucasian Brothers and sisters. I know everyone mourns differently and no disrespect to my Caucasian Brothers and Sisters. But there is a cultural bond especially during times of loss that goes deeper than I can explain.
I spent much of my time in the hallway with one of my former youth counselors speaking and reminiscing of those times we all spent together and sharing our experiences with Morgan. It was fun remembering him. As the night ended we all returned to our homes to prepare for our final goodbyes.

I woke up early Monday. My thoughts went back to the previous Monday, the day I heard the news. My heart sank. And then it went back to the Monday before that... the night i broke my food. DAMN FOOT in this DAMN BOOT! You'd think I'd learn to walk off a curb after 44 years. yeah, not so much. I packed up the food I prepared for the family dinner after the services, jumped in the car and was on my way.
I recognized my breathing getting heavier and heavier. By the time I hit the exit about a mile and a half from the church, it was last Monday all over again. I called my sister and told her I needed some help...She needed to talk me to the church because I was having another breakdown. When I got into the parking lot I drove in about 20 ft and couldn't drive anymore. I simply broke down, seeing the building where we hung out mostly as a youth group. Being in the ward where Morgan grew up, seeing images of him skateboarding or skipping Sunday school in that parking lot. Just too much to take. I needed a moment. After that moment I sucked it up, parked the car and got to work, preparing the kitchen and some of the food for the family Luncheon.
Around the corner from the kitchen in the Relief Society room was the viewing. I do not do viewing well so I stayed away from that part of the Chapel. I didn't need to "view" him.
I was cool with remembering him in a better way than chillin in that silk lined box.

Before long, it was time for the services to start. The program was unique and full of stories and laughter and tears.
Morgan.. AKA M.O.E was a music artist and a skateboarder. Because we were in the Chapel they couldn't play any of his music. And because We ALL KNOW Mormon hymns sound dreadfully mournful on the norm... The family refused to play them. There was gospel music SANG at this Service. As mentioned in the service... Jesus was a jew and would not have been able to have a Jewish funeral in an LDS chapel because of so many LDS stipulations. It's upsetting there are so many "RULES" to how we can mourn and rejoice in the chapel. When the time came to journey to the cemetery we were given instructions on a special presentation that would be held after the dedication of the final resting place. It was cold. FREEZING COLD. So Cold I broke out in hives. I don't think it was above 15 degrees. But as we sang "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot..." The sun presented itself and allowed us a little warmth.
As a Final tribute, Richard, his brother and 3 other friends wrote a song for Morgan, and presented it.
I listened to the words and the voices of these talented artist as they sang their hearts. It wasn't an LDS hymn however it was, to me, even more sweet to hear. Because it was just as heartfelt as any HYMNS I've ever heard.

Before I end my Novel I would just like to go on record saying:

The last 10 days have been filled with EVERY good, bad and ugly emotion.
Today I experienced them all again. At the end of the day my shock, sadness, anger, compassion, and broken heart are slowly turning to peace and sweet memories of the times we laughed and shared together, served ourselves and each other.
Those beautiful moments in time bonded us all together and will forever remain in each of us so we can call on them to answer our hearts when the ugly moments try to return.
*Dedicated to Every Child I was ever blessed to have fellowship and guidance over and to my LDS Genesis Family*
Love your people.. UNCONDITIONALLY and more importantly...make sure they know it!

"Weren't Ready For Seein' Angels"

*the only reason my name shows on the bottom of this video is because it was copied from my personal facebook page.*


Margaret Blair Young said...

Beautiful and heart wrenching, Karyn. You put into words what so many of us are feeling.

The Gist Family said...

Thank you Karyn, for beautifully writing your heart. For sharing what so many of us felt and shared. You are truly a beautiful soul inside and out, and I am so grateful to have you in my life. Thank you.

~Heather Gist

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