Meet Selina. The Ultimate Gift Giver, According to Maya Angelou
I could ALMOST pretend it’s not really true.
By JEANNIE SHAW
Pretend It’s Not True
Meet Selina. The Ultimate Gift Giver, According to Maya Angelou. My friend Selina and I go as far back as I could remember. And the memories are very many. As the last couple of weeks unravelled, so many recollections of a lifetime of friendship flooded my inner thoughts.
Her living far away from me likely cushioned everything I’ve been feeling and helped me through the reality of her transition. I could ALMOST pretend it’s not really true.
See, we had the kind of friendship that didn’t have a constant connection. Literally, years could go by without a single word, message or exchange. But here and there our paths would cross and it was like no time had passed at all.
A few years ago I had a dream about her taking a trip to Belize. The dream felt so very real that I thought I was in her home. I inboxed her on messenger to tell her about it and explained the details which included her being in a wooden house in Belize.
She then informed me that she was getting ready to take a trip home and that she hadn’t really told anyone as yet. Selina was concerned about her dad and wanted to visit him. That was in 2019.
Friday, May 20th 2022
Fast forward to Friday, May 20th 2022… she’s gone. I received the message and in the days that followed, I realized that I created a block. The news took a minute to register. I already knew she had grown tired and was likely going to transition soon. But it seems nothing prepares you for the loss of a loved one.
Selina had been battling cancer since 2017. In September of 2021, I sent her a link about a woman who revitalized her life force with alternative medicine and got back to 100% health.
Her response was that she was given 2-3 years to live with conventional medicine. She decided to go alternative as well. In the end, God decides truly.
I once read in a book, Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch, that we can fight for our paths and sometimes we will win but if the soul makes a different decision then that’s the final say.
Just Eat The Burgers
Even so, it leads me to wonder why some people are able to rise above an illness and some are not.
It can’t be that one is stronger than the other because Selina was strong. And why would someone who took such good care of herself get sick? So many questions…
A part of the last words in her mother-in-law’s speech at the service was that Selina used to suggest to her husband to make healthier choices with food. But in the end, she wondered “maybe we should just eat the burgers!” Oh, that hit me.
No Anger Ever
So then, what if some illnesses or ‘dis eases’ are tied to something else. Perhaps our energy centers? The things we block, hold on to, or when we’re always being so nice and accommodating. Maybe when we don’t say NO often enough. Perplexing.
Mom also had cancer but her story is a little different. It was a cardiac arrest that ultimately took her life after her biopsy which later revealed that she had breast cancer. And the same questions arise.
Is there some kind of correlation? My aunt (Tia Pel) just recently told me that she had never once seen my mom angry. EVER. Not once. Mom lived 62 years and Tia is 10 years her junior! So, for 52 years… no anger was ever displayed?
Could guilt, shame, people-pleasing… and constricting oneself to make others feel better also be at the root of dis ease in the human experience? It just made me THINK and QUESTION! Selina was among the fittest people I know.
As for children who get sick, well, that would stir up a whole other pot of questions.
Sweetness For Weakness
Is it possible that the things we hold deep down create hurdles within our system that could make one sick?
If it were just about exercise and the food we eat, Selina should have been here many years to come. And it wasn’t that she was weak in spirit.
I can tell you that Selina was a fighter. She was sweet and loving but there was a fierce side to her. And I’ve witnessed people misinterpreting her kindness for weakness only to find themselves face to face with a warrior spirit who doesn’t back down.
“I can tell you that Selina was a fighter. She was sweet and loving but there was a fierce side to her.”
It Stayed With Me For Years
Let’s backtrack a bit. In December of 2011, my son and I were in Arizona. We had gone to take care of my friend, sis and mother to my niece. Her name was Kareemah.
She was fighting for her life – Kareemah also had cancer. Since Selina lived in Arizona, we took the opportunity to go spend some time with her. So, she came and picked us all up and took us over to her big beautiful home.
There was so much space and everything just felt bigger and more expansive than what I was accustomed to seeing. My son played on the ATV and had so much fun with all the outdoor activities at the time. Sels and I mostly stayed with Kareemah.
Rolling Office Chair
Selina had just gotten into essential oils and was looking over all her bottles to figure out what she could concoct to offer some relief for Kareemah’s ailments that day. We spent time talking and laughing. Her son Liston and I got Kareemah into a rolling office chair to help with mobility so that she wouldn’t have to walk to the restroom.
I remember feeling so appreciative of these simple things. They had never met Kareemah before but welcomed all of us as though we too were family. It stayed with me for years.
That one day stood out to me the most – of all the things I could remember about her. And there are many things… I spent countless hours in her home in King’s Park. There was always cooking and it just always felt like a FULL home. We would walk together, sometimes meeting up with Clarissa to get back to primary school…
Her big sis Elisa was dreamy to me and I remember holding on to bits and pieces of advice that she gave us for dear life haha. Selina’s mom is a gifted cook! It was so good that there was a point in high school when Selina brought me a burger every day for lunch.
So many memories… but of everything that I could pull up from my memory bank, her caring and sweet ways toward my Kareemah melted my heart.
Isn’t Love Easy When There’s No Pressure
We left Arizona and again, Selina and I went back to sparse communication, meeting in Belize once for lunch with our sister/friend Valerie.
Isn’t love easy when there’s no pressure? Oh, how I wish I were like this in romantic relationships haha. But, alas, I digress.
Selina departed this realm and I couldn’t pretend. On the day of her service, I had a chiropractic appointment and ended up crying almost the whole time. Since I was in physical pain, I chose to honour the commitment and I listened and watched while I was getting treatments.
I loved every single message from her family. She was even more amazing than I thought. Her husband’s speech about her was comical and sad. It was such a relief to hear something funny in the midst of such profound sadness.
Pen A Piece To My Future Husband
Selfishly, I found relief in his saying that had he read her journals years ago, he would have understood her much better. After 29 years of marriage, still, he wished he had read these earlier. He said it would have helped haha. After all that time, there was still room for understanding in a 29-year marriage? OK, I felt normal 🙂 AND, I LOVED the authenticity of his words about her, their family and their union.
I shall pen a piece to my future husband and have him read it hereto.
How You Made Them Feel
I enjoyed every word he shared about my beloved friend. I loved the water fight story from her mother-in-law, especially the part where Selina bolted out and took control of someone trying to run away.
She was a runner and athletic and I did mention fierce, right? And as her sister Elisa spoke, I felt such gratitude that Selina had a big sis like her. That her whole family loved her with all their heart.
But most of all, as the days went by, I thought of life and the legacy we think is so important. Maya Angelou’s words echoed loudly in my mind, like bells in a church tower.
“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
We can leave material things for our loved ones when we depart. And that’s wonderful. It’s a testament to love in its own right. And definitely helpful on this material plane. But, every single account by others of Selina’s essence was touching.
If it wasn’t her smile, it was her sweet personality, her kindness, authenticity and all of that poured over into how she made people feel.
Even one of my very close friends told me that she was never close to Selina but always remembered her smile and sweet disposition. She too cried that day as if they were close.
It seemed like everyone who came in contact with her felt like they mattered. Her legacy goes way beyond tangible things. It lives on because she touched peoples’ lives. So many felt safe and taken care of with her. The story about her friend who hiked with her struck a chord as well. She said that the mountains held their secrets.
It left me with more to ponder on as I continue to shape my own existence.
What Would Jesus Do
It was yet another testament to who she was. You really could trust her. She did not take pleasure in gossiping, belittling or tearing down anyone. And, indeed, she kept secrets safe and sound. Selina strived to personify The Christ in her.
As much as I write about elevating my vibration and making some big decisions that were not for the weak of heart, I don’t always practice what I preach. And, I don’t always leave people feeling their best.
When emotions take over me, I do not think as often as I’d like to: WWJD? (what would Jesus do?) I’m a lot calmer than I used to be and I suppose we are all in a constant state of evolution, even if it’s slower for some.
Sure, I recognize that no one is perfect and that we’re all spirits having a human experience. Sometimes it’s not easy and I don’t expect myself or anyone to be completely perfect.
But Selina’s life story left me wanting more for myself and for the people I interact with… some things I wish I could change in how I responded. Those moments are gone but her life inspires me to stand more true to who I am and the woman I desire to realize.
Thank You Selina
As much as you can, find kindness in the way you respond to people and situations. Perhaps take it to God first, whatever works for you that you can find what is the best response and don’t keep things inside.
In the end, Maya’s Angelou’s word resound like echoes from a mountain top. And If How You Make People Feel Is The Greatest Gift You Could Give, My Friend Was The Ultimate Gift Giver.
Thank you Selina… for being absolutely extraordinary that even your brief encounters with others made an impact. Those of us who know you, your smile, and your kindness understand why Max wanted to experience more of who you were. He knew.
May you fly high among the angels, rest peacefully in His eternal Grace and may the lyrics from the song The Blessing Song by Cody Carnes, Elevation Worship, and Kari Jobe be the blessing that finds your family.
May His favor be upon you
And a thousand generations
And your family and your children
And their children, and their children
May His favor be upon you
And a thousand generations
And your family and your children
And their children, and their children…
The pleasure was truly ours.