The Good Wife

The anguish was irrefutable. The anxiety was palpable. My 80 year old uncle lay in a hospital bed with acute pneumonia and was as frail as any of us had ever seen him. The beeps from the monitors and hollowed sounds of the respirator were a constant reminder of where we were in life’s timeline. We all sat perched on the edge of the question; what’s next? Doctors said plainly that things didn’t look good; it’s as if no one knew the answer.

She came to the hospital and sat at his bedside everyday. At times being able to recite their story from beginning to end, while at other times not knowing who the man was that was hooked up to so many machines. So we waited. And true to form and in His own time, God knew what the answer would be. Although a death had recently befallen our family, today God had given us His answer: “Not yet…”

Rafaela and Eugene have walked through many storms in their fifty four years together, but they’ve also seen just as many rainbows. Their children and grandchildren are a constant source of pride. Today she smiled saying “thank you, Jesus” as her beloved finally opened his eyes and looked at her.

She grabbed my hand, looked at me and said, “Ahhh thank you, God… I’m so happy!” Her eyes tell us her story. They often look tired and weary. Like a glitch of an aged t.v. set, her memory fades in and out. She may not remember anything significant about yesterday, but she can recall with vivid detail her days as a young girl in Panama and how that country and her own mother, my grandmother, shaped her into the woman she was to be.

But again she looked me, asking “Are you Silvia?” I shook my head. “No Tia, Silvia is your sister… I’m your niece, Lisa.” Her eyes smiled as if remembering my place in the family tree. “Ahhh yes, my Leeeeessssaaa! Thank you, Jesus! I’m so happy!” Her happiness and strength washed over me and with tears welling up in my eyes (happy tears, of course!) I said, “Thank you Jesus! I’m happy too Tia!”

“He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” – Proverbs 18:22

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[Harlem Vow Renewal] : Love Is…

Someone once said that love is friendship set to music! And for these two social activists and self-proclaimed music heads, no statement could be more true. Meet Detrel and her husband Thomas, who after meeting at a rally, have used their love of music and life to affect change in their community! So what better way to celebrate one year of love than with a “Love Is…” session in Harlem! With it’s rich and vibrant history in dance, literature and music, it was the perfect backdrop for our session this past weekend! Thomas and Detrel will be making beautiful music when they renew their wedding vows next month here in New York. I’m excited for what’s in store because after spending the afternoon with them, I know the day will be nothing short of amazing!

DandT2 Our first stop…the world famous Apollo Theater! With musical greats like Areatha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson having graced this iconic stage, it made sense that they paid homage but also made time to ‘get on the good foot’ themselves!

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bririzadaphoto1 Big thank you to Brianna of B. Rizada Photography for grabbing this photo of me during our shoot!

DandT1 Thomas is a man of few words, but that smile: GOLD!

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D&TDip And finally, a trip to Harlem would not be complete without a stop at the world-renowned soul food eatery known simply as Sylvia’s! Enjoy you two!

DandTDip2 As the sun set over the city, I walked down 125th Street and came upon the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. monument, which I thought is a perfect blend of admiration and advocacy for the people of Harlem! It kinda reminded me of Detrel and Thomas. Not only do they exemplify their love for one another, but also their love of their community and advocating for causes close to their hearts — bravo you guys! 🙂

Growing Old Gracefully

It’s been said that the best part of the art of living is to know how to grow old gracefully. And in 93 years, her faith, strength and the love of her family (along with a healthy dose of spunk and laughter!) has served her well! Happy Birthday to the woman who lives to laugh and loves to share some good sesé! (Ella siempre usa esa palabras: “¡Dejamé desirte este bochinché, chica!”)

I love you for your wisdom, your gracious spirit and your no nonsense attitude — let’s continue to love and laugh together!
Forever, your Lily

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Love, Liberty and Ladies Who Lunch : Lynn’s 30th Birthday Celebration

There are girls who grow into the kind of women who know exactly what they want; from the kind of job they want to have, to the kind of car they want to drive, even to the type of man they want to marry! And while fate holds the cards for some of life’s happenings, other choices, like our friends, flow into our lives with ease. Meet Lynn, an engaging, insightful and funny young woman who knew just what she wanted for her soiree in celebration of her 30th birthday last weekend: Note eight of her closest girlfriends, great food, the best wine and pure decadence on the water!! Now I ask you, what could be more decadent than a YACHT?! And not just any old clunker boat, but a 97 foot private luxury vessel (the S.S. Minnow has nothing on this, guys!) So…all aboard and away we go!!

Now, I’ve always thought of myself as somewhat adventurous (there was climbing Dunns River Falls in Jamaica, parasailing in Mexico, going to the top of both the Arch de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower in Paris, paragliding in San Diego and even rock climbing at Chelsea Piers — all done with a slight fear of heights), but admittedly with this exploit, once I stepped onto the yacht and felt the slightest sway, I became a ball of nerves, pondering every scenario, like: what if I lost a shoe or what if my glasses fell off my face and slipped overboard (this actually happened to my friend Felicia on a class trip on the NYC Circle Line in the fourth grade — it undoubtedly scarred me for life!) or even, dare I say it, what if I became so queazy, I lost my lunch!! But as the guardian of the day’s memories, I couldn’t lose my cool (but more than that, I couldn’t let a pregnant woman in heels steal my shine — I see you, Toya!!), so I put all my worries aside and proceeded to document the fun!!

And what fun it was!! We all danced, laughed and shared secrets like great girlfriends often do! I was even made privy to some moments that I’m sure they would never want their mothers to know about — but reassured ladies, your secrets are safe with me! But mostly, in between enjoying the lobster and chocolate covered strawberries, the toasts of chardonnay, bursts of laughter and outright silliness, the point of the day was crystal clear — these women came together as pillars of support for one another and to applaud each other’s triumphs! It was an awesome thing to witness! I want to give a special shout to Senior Purser Ingrid and the entire staff of “Justine” — you guys were awesome and made us all feel so welcomed! Finally, as the yacht pulled into port the ladies huddled together for one last picture. Perfection. And as the limo pulled away after dropping me off, I couldn’t help but feel such joy for Lynn and her friends. Friends are the family we choose for ourselves. And Lynn, I’d say you chose some wonderful sisters to walk through life with…Happy Birthday!

Here’s To Love

Love is what some would call a force of nature. As much as we may want to, we can’t command or demand love anymore than we can command the sun or the moon to raise and fall. But when the stars of life align and we encounter this grand and often fiery sentiment in its purest form, it will always be a cause for celebration.

I can remember the day clearly. My friend Kim was beside himself with happiness. Devotion spoke loudly with his every move. He’d finally found it. Love. And he wanted to share his excitement and utter joy with everyone he knew. He approached me on this day and said, “We’ve been friends for a long time and Yolanda and I would so appreciate if you would capture our day for us.” How wonderful it was to be asked to photograph their wedding. It was the most heartfelt request, the likes of which I couldn’t possibly refuse. And with that, I smiled and happily agreed to capture the essence of and celebrate love. On a brisk yet sunny February day before their god, their family and their friends, Kim and Yolanda committed their lives and hearts to one another. They promised to love, respect and cherish, to find laughter, comfort and trust in each other. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate.

And so, my wish for you Kim and Yolanda is that the love of God and His word never leaves your hearts. May this special love always be yours to share! God’s word says “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” Thank you for sharing your day with me and allowing me to see the great promise of your lives together…HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!! Cheers!!