Archive for friendship

CeeCee Was My Friend… Christine McDonald

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald with tags , , on April 17, 2020 by paulthepoke

A couple of years later, after I had gotten off the streets and had my son, I received a call. My son was a few months old at the time. CeeCee was on the phone. I still don’t know how she found me. She was in hospice care and was dying of AIDS. I knew she was HIV positive. I had known a couple of women who worked the streets who were HIV positive. It did not change that they were my friends.

CeeCee had contracted HIV in L.A. She had been gang raped and was addicted to heroin. Her family had disowned her. She had been HIV positive for 17 years. She said she wished to infect every man who tried to buy sex. She carried so much hurt, so much brokenness, and so much anger.

After her phone call, I visited her daily for months at the hospice, sneaking her cigarettes, only one each day I visited. I also sneaked in candy bars and soda. I had thought many times, Gosh, if my friend is going to die and you guys can’t do anything to save her, what’s the big deal about a cigarette?

I’d sneak in her stuffed animals and also bring treats for the girl she shared a room with. She was dying, too, but she didn’t have visitors, so we often shared my daily visits with her.

The brain lesions caused CeeCee to drift in and out, so she wasn’t always aware of my presence. She called me one last time when she had a moment of clarity. It was dinnertime at our little home. She said, “Christine.” It was the first time in the 15 years or so I had known her that she had ever called me by my real name. “I’m going to meet my Maker,” she said.

I was at a loss for words. What do you say to someone who matter–of–factly states that they’re going to meet their Maker? What do you say to someone who knows they are about to die? I struggled to remain calm for my friend.

I asked, “Have you made peace?”

“I have no regrets,” she said to me, “no guilt for anyone I infected.”

I went to see her the following morning. She was unaware of my presence. I held her hand and spoke to her, telling her stories of our past experiences in life. Then I went home, holding onto CeeCee’s smuggled–in cigarette, just in case tomorrow’s visit would be better.

About an hour after I left, I got a call. It was the hospice. CeeCee had died. The nurse said it was almost as though she had waited for that daily visit from me before she allowed herself to drift away. Then the nurse said, “I wish everyone here had an Ellie in their lives.”

I took the cigarette from my jacket pocket and put it in the trash. By the time CeeCee passed, everyone who was HIV positive there, all those dying people, knew my name. They would wave and say, “Hi!” I’d smile and say, “Hello!” After getting to know so many of the folks in the hospice, I tried to become a volunteer there. But I was a convicted felon, a criminal, and the law wouldn’t allow me to come in to do such a thing.

I don’t know if CeeCee spoke to God before her death. I know her family never let go of their shame over her life as a prostitute or her contraction of HIV, even though it resulted from the violent acts of seven gang members. Her family refused to put down their pride and see her one last time. In fact, they didn’t even come to pick up the body after she died.

CeeCee lies in a markerless grave in Kansas City. I share her story because she was my friend. Both her life and death were a tragedy. By my sharing about her, others can know of her and that she was cared for. I just wanted to give her a voice.

I often wonder how different CeeCee’s life—particularly her last days—might have been if her family had been able to look past the shame and embrace her with arms of love. I wonder the same of the many people in that hospice who spent their final days isolated and alone. Where were the other Ellies? Where were the people who could love them, freely and unconditionally? And what difference might that kind of love have made in their lives and hearts?

We all have people—whether close to us or at a distance—who have made choices we disapprove of or have experienced horrific things we don’t know how to deal with. We can hold them at arm’s length and shun them, pushing them further into isolation, hurt, and shame. Or we can draw them near with arms of love, saying, as Jesus says, “Come as you are.”

Contact Information:
Christine C. McDonald

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

Our Friend Bunny… Christine McDonald

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald with tags , , , , , on March 28, 2020 by paulthepoke

CeeCee and I were the same age. From time to time, we looked out for each other on the corner of Gladstone Boulevard and Independence Avenue. We would often hang together in between dates, neither of us having a place to call home or a place to go inside, away from the elements. Once, we were arrested in a sting and transported together to the police station.

CeeCee had been in California for years working the streets of L.A., but she bounced back and forth to Kansas City, as that is where her family lived. She hoped that one day her family could look beyond the shame they felt for her prostitution. She longed for reconciliation with them.

At one point, CeeCee and I were in prison together, so we put our names on the list to be cellmates. Soon we were sharing a cell in an old prison that had crank windows we were allowed to open. And there was grass we were allowed to walk on. It was great.

Most other prisons wouldn’t allow you to open windows or walk on the grass. In fact, it was a conduct violation to walk on the grass, and the windows—well, they didn’t open.

One day, when the grass was being cut, the yard crew discovered some baby bunnies. The bunnies were a ray of hope to so many women in prison, many with families or hopes for families, many who had children who had been taken from them, many with families that had, like CeeCee’s, disconnected from them due to their incarceration and the shame it brought on the family. The bunnies somehow filled in the wells of hurt and loneliness. They gave us the connection of something to love and to care for.

CeeCee and I chose to adopt one. We had other girls who worked in the chow hall steal food for us. We cleaned out a metal footlocker and lined it with an old towel and grass we’d picked. At night when we were on lockdown, we would take out our bunny (which we had named simply “Bunny”) and hold it. During the day, we would go out to what we called Blubber Beach. It was where we girls could touch the grass and lie and bake in the sun—still in our prison–gray uniforms, but nevertheless enjoying the grass and the warmth of the sun. When we were there, we would take Bunny out. We stashed him between our breasts to get him out of the housing units. We would lie in the grass and watch Bunny enjoy it with us.

Soon, however, Bunny got bigger and needed to get out of the little locker we had made his home. At first, we had put a rolled–up towel across the floor at the door of the cell to insure that Bunny didn’t make it underneath. But as Bunny got bigger, it grew harder to keep him a secret.

CeeCee and I took turns. We worked different shifts in the prison, so it was easy for us to keep our soft, furry friend to ourselves. But Bunny grew, as all babies do, and we could no longer hide him in our bras to go outdoors. As time went on, we were leaving Bunny out to explore our prison cell more frequently. So the word got out that we had a pet baby rabbit in the state penitentiary, one we had kept and had taken care of for a couple of months. One of the girls told a white shirt, and our housing unit was put on lockdown. The white shirt came to our cell after the unit was locked down…

To be continued…

Contact Information:
Christine C. McDonald

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

Our Daily Bread, Choose Friends Wisely… Paul Beverly

Posted in Paul Beverly with tags , , , , on July 29, 2018 by paulthepoke

Surround yourself with those that are good for you. Those that you interact with the most, are who you most become like. A good rule of thumb is, if they aren’t good examples for my children they probably aren’t good for me. Heard a sermon from Pastor Craig from Life Church where he said “Show me your 5 closest friends & I’ll show you your future.” Know your worth & what’s good for you.


Proverbs 18:24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Psalm 1:1 Blessed is a man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived “Bad company ruins good morals”

Have a blessed week my friends!!!

%d bloggers like this: