Those that have never met her have no idea of the inward and outward beauty she possessed. As her mom, I'm probably as biased as they come, but she was my heart, my first born. July 19, 2008, started off just like any other day, except we were going to Atlanta, GA that evening. We packed, prepared, and prayed and would soon be on our way. Chanelle came over to bring our two grandsons to go with us. "Mommy, Daddy" she said, "When you get to Atlanta, please call me and let me know you guys got there safely." She then said a little prayer, "God bless my parents and watch over them. Amen!" then she left. That would be the last time we saw her alive. Approximately 1:30am, my husband asked me to find the cell phone because it had been ringing a lot. I had my ear phones on and had not heard it ringing. I located the phone and noted 31 missed calls and a frantic message from my youngest daughter "Mom, Dad, pick up the phone, it's an emergency!" I could hear the panic in her voice and I called her back. I could not believe what I was hearing, my beautiful angel, Chanelle, had been shot three times in a home invasion. The intruders never found what they were looking for – drugs that they say her husband was selling. The police have also never charged the perpetrators or in this case – “persons of interest”. We were on our way to take 30 kids on a college tour, but we were stopped short as all four vans and three cars turned around to head back to Indianapolis. All I could say the whole time was "Oh God, Oh God!" and the empty hole that was in my stomach ached so bad. How could this happen? Why? In my heart of hearts I wanted God to grant us a miracle, but as a mom, that pit in my stomach only grew. With all the faith in the world I could recall, somehow, I knew in my heart that she was not going to make it. Sometimes a mother just knows these things. They told us they would try to stabilize her and get her into surgery to stop the bleeding; truth was she was already gone. That ride back to Indy was the longest ride of my life. She would be gone before we returned. Chanelle died that morning at the tender age of 24, and as for me and my family, a part of us also died. More than 2,000 people attended her funeral. Not because she was well known or any such
thingâ€ŚJust because her father is a respected peace activist in the community, known for holding prayer vigils for slain black males. There is no doubt in my mind that we never saw this coming. We were truly blind-sided. The press would seek to sensationalize it and capitalize on our hurt and pain. We were bombarded by press â€“ positive and negative, but in the end, what does it matter to anyone but God himself. To many she was just another young black mother, who had loss her life due to bad choices. However, she meant the world to us. It pains me to feel the loss that my baby girl holds for her big sister. They were sisters so close that it was almost like losing a twin. One was never without the other. Chanelle had a heart so pure and a beauty so rare and yet she was abruptly taken from our lives. How would we... how could we live again? It's been almost three years now and my heart still aches from our loss. Not just for myself, but for three little boys who now have to grow up without a mother. For a husband who will never embrace his wife again. For a father whose little girl would no longer dance with him again. For a brother who's totally lost without her. For grandparents who will never again be cheered by her smile. For a mother who no longer will receive her wisdom and friendship. She was a mother that loved and cherished her children. She once told me she wanted five kids, but I cannot imagine what I would do now, at age 50, with five kids! As for me, I'm learning to live all over again. I had always been the one that others came to for encouragement, but who would encourage me now? My husband, my mother and my sister, as well as a couple of my friends have helped me to weather this storm. I am blessed to have family and friends like these and I am truly learning that "His strength is made perfect in my weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9 Being a Christian and suffering such loss is strange because my husband has spent years on the streets of Indianapolis, speaking peace, teaching peace, and yet my daughter was murdered by the same types of individuals that he ministers to on a regular basis. What irony the Lord sometimes allows. Through Chanelle's death I have learned to truly trust and lean solely on Christ. It is so easy to give advice and lip service to God when tragedy is afar or just a mere story in the headlines. It is whole different path to walk when the tragedy invades your space. I would have to learn to lean on Christ with every fiber of my being. He would have to become as real as ever because if not, I might lose myself, my family, and my faith. I chose to hang on. Through the tears, hurt and disappointment; through the miracle that never materialized; I would need to learn that God is able, even when it hurts. Maybe that's the book one day I'll write, "Even When it Hurts". During this season I am reminded about the sovereignty of God and the renewed strength and resolve He has given me. I could never even equate my loss to God's loss of His son, but oh how He must have grieved. The Son was born to die, and yet he never turned back. I mean the world to Him; You mean the world
to Him. Through this whole process, my faith has been renewed and I am in a much better place today then I was almost three years ago. I'm not bitter, I'm better because of it and even though I miss my baby girl so much most days, I have a desire to see other young ladies not suffer this same fate. I count my blessings daily - RJ, Ray Ray and Mani - Thanks Chanelle for not having five! Some people ask me, where God was, I believe He was right there all the time. My grandson R'Mani was in the house and no one hurt him. My other two grandsons were with me and were spared this tragic display of cowardice that their mother endured. Where was God? Helping me to keep it together enough to hold my family together, even when it hurts! Some people say they can't serve a God who could allow such devastation, but I say "Iâ€™ll never serve any other God." I'm sure that I am not the first and I won't be the last who has experienced such a tragedy, so with each breath I take, I am learning that God's mercies are new everyday and life is still worth living, despite the pain. I am learning to hope again. I am learning that joy still comes in spurts, even when weeping endures. Every time I visit the cemetery, look at her pictures, or think about the wonderful memories of Chanelle, I am reminded that God is able and His promises are true, even when it hurts! Isaiah 61 says, "He gives beauty for ashes, strength for fear, gladness for mourning, peace for despair". They say that weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. As I wait for my morning, I've found that the promises in Isaiah have helped to renew my faith in God and yes, I will trust Him, even when it hurts!