Warping Grits and Other Things


Its Christmas time and time to warp those grits…I mean, wrap those gifts.

I suppose I am one of those last-minute gift-wrappers, who waits until Christmas Day to pull out those special gifts that are hidden in my closet and start wrapping them and putting them under the tree. They are there now, waiting to be unwrapped when my brother and his girlfriend arrive.

Christmas, I think, is a time to look back and a time to look ahead–what has been gained and what has been lost in this hustle and bustle called Life. Looking back over this past semester, I can truly say that I have journeyed many a path of sorrow and death as well as joy and inspiration.

My journey began in July. I had just reached a point of normalcy in my life–the previous year at school had taken its toll on me emotionally, physically and, most importantly, spiritually, and had robbed me of my joy and peace in Christ Jesus. It was at this point that a close friend (Kink) asked me to accompany her to a party for another friend’s uncle. The catch: this party was at the local redneck bar. I do not drink alcohol and I knew my friend did not need to be drinking because she has serious health issues.

So, knowing that our mutual friend was often a sign of trouble and that Kink needed to be careful, I agreed to go, but only to be a moral support for her and to make sure nothing bad happened. Well, nothing happened. But I sensed something going on between Kink and some of the other girls we were with. They were bonding–and fast. I knew they were bad company and that this could not be a good sign.

Not long after, I began seeing a greater change in my friend as she spent more and more time with her new friends from the bar. Not coincidentally, I soon received word that she was in the hospital. This was early August. I was both concerned for Kink and relieved. Concerned that she was sick and that her many health issues could make it difficult for her to heal and relieved that she was safe in her hospital room where these new “friends” could not lead her into more harm.

It turned out that during her hospital stay, I was able to spend a great deal of time with Kink. It was an opportunity that I had never had before and I treasured every moment that I was able to share the love of Christ with her and fellowship with her. Thankfully, she is now out of the hospital and is back to her normal Kinkle-self 🙂

A few days after Kink got out of the hospital, I boarded an early-morning flight with my dear friend and fellow blogger, Kahlila. We were bound for our Alma Matter a week before school to begin our pre-season soccer training. Two-a-day practices followed for the next four days. Although I had run everyday over the summer break, I was terribly sore and had to sit in a tub of ice water in the athletic training room to numb away the pain.

Classes began that last Monday in August. I immediately fell in love with my Communications in Gestures course. It was taught by Dr. Mike Kemp, one of the best professors on the Gallaudet campus. I was also enrolled in Classifiers, ASL and English, Non-Manual Signals, and American History.

My friend from high school who was up in DC with me and working for W. in the White House invited me on that Friday to attend the Marine Barracks Parade where I saw the President and Laura Bush in person for the first time. It was so neat!

A couple of weeks later, I went to the Arrival Ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House that I described in an earlier blog. It marked the second and last time that I saw the President in person. It also set the stage for my political views of W. for the next few months. Since President Bush only has a few more weeks in office, I could no understand why people had to be so belligerent and utterly cruel in the way that they talked about W. (especially when they could give me no reason why they hate the President so much).

What has he done to offend so many? More importantly, after the Democrats, not only won the Legislative Branch, but also the Executive Branch, why can’t Democrats simply celebrate their victories without insulting the President further? I am not Republican or Democrat, but it saddens me to see that people portray and discuss Bush as if he were worse than Osama Bin Laden or Saddam Husein.

At any rate, later that week, I went on my first West Wing tour with several friends from my home town and had the opportunity to see the Oval Office and the Press Briefing Room. I also went with my friend and his family to Mount Vernon and, before that, Great Falls, Annapolis, and Baltimore with a few visiting friends. It was great getting out of the city and spending time with friends. I also took a day trip to the National Arboretum when the leaves began turning color.

For the first three months of school, I played on the Bison Women’s Soccer Team. We never won a game, but we did have a few close games and we enjoyed playing all the same. I played outside midfield and thus had the opportunity to play both defense and offense, which was fun despite all the running 🙂

Two days before Thanksgiving, I checked my email before class just like I do everyday, but today was different. Today, I had an email about my professor, Mike Kemp.

I had just emailed Dr. Kemp that Sunday night to ask about class on Tuesday. He told me that we did have class because we were behind in our projects, so I was looking forward to Tuesday afternoon when I would go to his class, which was my favorite class this semester. He was an awesome teacher. We never read a book, but I guarantee you that I learned just as much if not more in his class than I did in any of my other classes, including the one that I did major projects for every class period.

That Tuesday morning though, I received an email that made my heart sink. Dr. Mike Kemp had passed away. It was ten minutes until my next class but all I could do was sit there at my desk, cry, and yell out, “No, God, no. Please no. Why? Why God? Why him? He wasn’t ready!”

I managed to get myself together enough to walk to class, but I cried all the way there and throughout History, too. I then went to NMS class where we all cried together and talked about Mike Kemp, how he died, and how he lived.

That sent me over the edge. I had just talked to him two days earlier. He was supposed to be here. He wasn’t.

I was completely distraught. I had just attended a memorial service for a friend who had passed away in a fire over the summer. I knew his family as well as those closest to him in the Deaf-World had to be so bereaved. What a loss! He was an excellent teacher and made a huge impact on people across the globe. I looked around at my classmates and knew that more than half of them were there, majoring in ASL, because of Dr. Kemp and his encouragement.

I was also confused. What do you do when your professor dies? How do you carry on with the class? How do you get a grade in a class where no grades have been given? I somehow managed to finish my term paper and turn it in but only because I knew how much Mike Kemp was looking forward to reading my paper, and I wanted to email it to him even though he was not there to see it.

It took me five days before I was able to even look at my homework. Most of my final projects and finals were due within the next 2-4 days. I rushed though them and looked forward to coming home to unload and rest. Soccer had taken its toll on me as well as Dr. Kemp’s death.

Now, here I am, warping grits, wrapping up the end of this year, and already doing much better. God is sovereign. He holds everything in His hands. I know He will use the events–both good and bad–from this past semester and turn them into something good.

“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” –Job 1:21

Blessed be the name of the Lord!


*Condolences and my deepest sympathies go out to Dr. Mike Kemp’s family and friends. You are all in my prayers.*


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