For 35 years I had the privilege to know Crystal Lashon Heard-Jackson. She was my first cousin, my mother's oldest sister's first daughter. She was the first grandchild of my Papa and Nana. We all knew her as "Stanky" or " Big Heard".
Big Heard, was the biggest sister I never had.
She was my mentor and helped me get through the jaws of life. As a young girl, I had to be no more than 6 years old, I can remember her asking me, "Loddie, what do you want to be when you grow up?" I got the nickname Loddie from Crystal also, because she always played Slick Rick's Loddie Doddie and knew all the words. I looked her in her eyes and told her I'm going to be the Statue of Liberty. Crazy as that have sounded to her, she didn't judge me. Instead, she told me to stand on the front porch. She returned with a bag and I opened it. Crystal put together a DIY Statue of Liberty package.
I pulled out a pole, gown and a headband then she put me into position. I had no idea that Crystal was prepping me for the real world. I can hear her telling me, "Rochele, the Statue of Liberty is beautiful , strong and tall. In order to be her, you must hold your head and torch high and don't lower it for absolutely anything." She went on to say how "seasons change and the forecast won't always bring in sun shinning days. There will be times when it'll rain and snow. Winds will blow and birds will shit on you. But you must remain strong because you are Liberty."
Crystal, left me outside for hours daily holding up my torch. She would laugh and if she caught me off my place, she would yell," Statues don't move. Head up Rochele!"
This went on for days until my mom came home early from work one day. My mom came to me and said, "Rochele what are you doing?" I wouldn't say anything because statues don't talk. She immediately knew that Crystal was behind it.
Although Crystal never took me to New York to start my new job. I was able to pull the blessing out of Crystals joke. As the years went by I was faced with many challenges and obstacles., but I never forgot what Crystal told me. "Life will have its ups and downs, but you must keep your head and torch held high."
Sunday May 28, 2017 I lost Crystal forever, but I'll never forget her lectures, advice, mentorship and memories. I am truly blessed to have known someone as special as her. Just as I bowed my head and torch to cry. Her spirit reminded me that I am the Statue of Liberty and I will stand tall.
Rest In Peace cousin Crystal.