Sunday, October 1, 2017

Chapter 4: Sunday Kinda Love

Madison, Kassidy, and I grew up in the same church, Holy Cross Covenant. However, none of these decisions were choices we made. Madison is the only child of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton, the Pastor and First Lady of Holy Cross Covenant. Not only does she have to go, but she has been groomed since children’s church to marry well and take over the ministry after her parents. My parents, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, were deacons at HCC. They worked very closely with the Pastor and First Lady and are now elders in the church. So, we were practically dragged to church and every service until we were in high school. And so was Madison by her parents. Although for her, it was less of a drag and more of a merry hop along.


No matter how nice Madison was, people just didn’t like her. She was so nice to us and, as kids, we didn’t understand why anyone would dislike her. So I was determined to be her friend because she needed a good one. Kassidy was the littlest thing but threatened anyone who tried to mess with Madison. So Madison, Kassidy, and I were always together and became fast friends.

When we were in high school, Madison still merrily hopped her way to church. She has always loved Jesus. I, on the other hand, tried to find every excuse not to go. Homework was the most effective and most honest one that actually worked often. My parents stopped fighting with Kassidy and she just did her own thing. Every once in awhile though, Madison would convince us both to come to church. She didn’t have to work too hard. After freshman year, the Hamiltons moved from Wynnfield to West Chester and Madison changed schools. Church was the only time we could catch up and see each other until we both got cars junior year.

After Kassidy moved in with our grandmother, Kassidy had to go to church with her due their agreement. Grandma had just joined a new church, Community Hope. Kassidy didn’t like going at first. She was especially apprehensive of going to church unwed and pregnant. She figured, if these people are anything like the people at Holy Cross Covenant, she was going to have to cuss and fight every Sunday. Thankfully, everyone was nice and kind to her. They even threw her a surprise baby shower. HCC had put me off on churches and I didn’t want to go. But when Kassidy invited me to come to Lil’ Harry’s christening at Community and told me how much she loved it, I had to go and see what kind of miracles they were performing down there. I’ve been a frequent visitor ever since.

During this time, Madison was also nearby at a local seminary. She was an intern in the HCC office to fulfill her school requirements and the Assistant Youth Pastor. Though she loved serving, I could tell she was overwhelmed. When we went to Mexico for winter break, Madison became instantly obsessed and fell in love with food in a traditional Mexican cuisine cooking class we took for fun. When we got back, she quit the Assistant Youth Pastor position and cooked to relieve stress. She would even go and help my grandma cook some Saturday nights. Madison also came to Lil’ Harry’s christening and just like that cooking class in Mexico, Madison couldn’t get enough of Community. Despite her parents pleading and manipulating, Madison did her second year internship with Community Hope’s Outreach Project.

That’s where she met Malik. The two started off as just friends but she soon fell hard for him. He loved Jesus as much as she did and he grew up in the church, too. Malik was respectful and encouraged her to keep her vow to honor God with her life and body. Malik would constantly talk about his vision of starting a program to teach kids in the community about technology once he graduated with his Computer Science degree. Malik’s passion to do what he loved made Madison want to fully pursue her passion. Malik and I went to the same university but I never knew it. We were in completely different departments on opposite ends of the campus. I only realized it when Madison started popping up at my dorm at least twice week, talking about “I was just in the neighborhood.” Madison and Malik grew such a close friendship that she even told him about a horrible date she had with a guy from her seminary who kept pressuring her to have sex and getting too touchy feely. Let’s just say Malik and his brother paid ole boy a visit when he got out of Theology 101. Malik told Madison that he loved her too much to even let something happen to her and that if she was with him, she would never have to worry about that. Their friendship became a courtship soon after.

Madison was already close to perfect, but she turned into a better version of herself. She finally stood up to her parents, as respectfully as she could. Madison quit seminary and enrolled into culinary school. She remained a faithful member and perfect First Daughter of HCC and even started a cooking class for the singles’ ministry. She snuck away to attend Community with Kassidy and I whenever she could. We didn’t have to work too hard; her boo was there.

When I went gallivanting around the world, Kassidy’s relationship with my parents had gotten better and they wanted to see their grandbaby more often. My parents were always at HCC and Kassidy hadn't been back there since she had gotten pregnant. Madison had gotten busier at HCC and had no free time when her catering side gig overflowed with requests and became her only gig. To accommodate her schedule, Malik was visiting HCC more often. She never had time to visit Community anymore. With me being away, they also really missed spending time with each other. The two realized they were usually only together if I were the common denominator. Madison and Kassidy made an agreement with each other that eventually became a tradition that trickled down to me and LaChay.

Every second Sunday, we go to HCC together. All of our parents are happy, the baby gets passed around, and Madison can be in place to serve. Surprisingly, the nostalgia of sitting in between Madison and Kassidy in HCC just assures me that this bond won’t ever break. We will even sit through hell for each other. Every fourth Sunday we go to Community. We all get to go the church we actually like and spend time with two of our other favorite people: Grandma and Malik. The agreement became a longstanding win-win for everyone involved.

Thankfully, it was fourth Sunday. With Madison dealing with Malik’s news and LaChay having threatened God’s anointed of HCC, it couldn’t have been a better day to retreat to Community Hope. This particular Sunday we all arrived at the church around the same time. I went to go pick up Grandma, so I was on time for once. When we rolled up, Kassidy, Chris, and Lil’ Harry were getting out of the car.

As soon as I helped Grandma out of the car, I felt a big ball of energy flying my way.

“Auntie Keisha! Gray Grandma!” Lil’ Harry ran up and grabbed me around my waist. He was really getting tall. I still couldn't help but laugh every time he said Gray Grandma. When he was little, he didn't pronounce his T’s. His “great” always sounded like “gray.” Since my grandmother had always had a head full of long, pressed gray hair, the mispronunciation just stuck.

“Hey baby! Come give Gray Grandma some sugar.” Grandma hugged and kissed Lil’ Harry while Chris and I removed long, covered aluminum pans of rice, collard greens, and chicken from the trunk of my car.

“HJ, Auntie needs your help. Come carry these rolls for me.”

“Yes, Auntie Keisha.”

As we started walking towards the door, we hear a “Hey Fam!” It was definitely LaChay. She had yelled out of Madison’s passenger side window. We paused and waited for them to walk up. Madison was carrying three cake boxes and LaChay was carrying this season’s most luxurious tote bag. When Madison realized she wasn't carrying anything, she shoved a cake box onto her.

As we walked into Community, we shifted the food we were all carrying and unconsciously separated into two groups. Kassidy, LaChay, Grandma, and Lil’ Harry, walked into the sanctuary. Madison, Chris, and I walked the food over to the fellowship hall.

“Hey Madison! How are you? I was hoping to see Malik. He coming today?” Chris made small talk as he placed the pans on the table.

“Hey Chris! I’m doing fine. They had a special youth service at HCC and Malik had to be there.”

“Oh word. Tell him I asked about him.”

“I definitely will.” Chris headed out of the fellowship hall towards the sanctuary. Madison and I fell back to light sternos and set up trays with some other church members.

“Madison, is there really a youth service at HCC today?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Then where’s Malik?”

“I don’t know and I don’t care. He knows which Sunday it is."

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