One of my best friends, Shanique Leshay Baker has unexpectedly passed away of a brain tumor. Our friendship was unmatched and I miss her. I love her so much and wish I could just tell her that one last time. I’ve realized in her passing how little I understand and know about life and time. I remember all the plans we made and all that she wanted to do. She achieved her lifelong dream of traveling and living overseas and I am so proud of her. She was only 29 years old. We had so much “life” left to live together. Our elders would say we’re young and this is only the beginning, so how can this be her end? I won’t get to spend another day on the phone with her– laughing, daydreaming, reminiscing, exchanging secrets and sharing our life plans. We thought we had “time”. Shanique’s passing has awakened me to a lot of truths about life and about myself that I would like to share with you.
I realize now our greatest misconception is that we think we have time. So we wait to make up after having arguments that seem so trivial when matched against the value of a human life. We wait to act on our goals out of fear that we don’t have what it takes, fear of what other’s might think or fear that the right time has yet to present itself to take the first step. But, we are on borrowed time. We didn’t plan our conception, just as we did not plan our end. I finally understand the depth of what it means when people say if you want to make God laugh tell him your plans. God is time and I don’t get to dictate tomorrow, but I get to live every present moment to it’s fullest and my bestie would encourage me to do so by becoming all that I can be. I get to cherish the human lives of the amazing people that I am blessed to have in my life, making sure they know that I love them and appreciate them dearly. I get to apologize to those I’ve hurt and accept the fact that I don’t always see myself accurately because I am nothing close to perfect and life is too short to spend being upset over tiny arguments. I get to tear down my walls of self-protection and let people in. I get to change. I get to give the forgiveness and grace that I want to those who I feel have wronged me, understanding that I am none greater or wiser and life is just too short. I get to encourage, to support, and to love others the way my bestie did — she was kind, generous, and incredibly selfless. For all that, I am grateful.
I can’t fix or heal the world and it would be far too overwhelming and unhealthy for me to set out to do that, I know because I’ve lived like that till now. But, I can be myself and apply the life lessons that I’ve learned in my daily living. I encourage you to do the same. In this world, we all have pain and we have all been wronged, I promise you that you are not alone. But, there is freedom to be found in self-examination, trauma processing and striving for internal growth with each passing day. I want to encourage all of you reading this to stop waiting to start reaching for your goals and break free of your fears. Life is too short to spend it thinking you have time to one day stop living for other people. Live your life, so that when your time is up, you are left with no regrets.
You are light and love, a light in the darkness. – Shanique Leshay Baker
Shanique, today was your funeral and I miss you. I would give anything to tell you once more how much I love you and appreciate having you as a friend. You are free from this world and for that, I am happy for you. You’ve made me a better person. I am so thankful for all the wisdom and encouragement that you’ve left behind for me. In a strange way, you feel like my shadow now, I just wish I could hug you. Thank you for our years of friendship marked with love, support, and encouragement. I love you so much!