A Letter To My Friend, Big Sis and Mentor, Traci Gibson Little

Dear Traci,

I keep expecting for something different to happen—to snap out of this…for this to not be true. I’ve been sitting in my chair looking out my window for hours.

Selfishly I cry and my heart aches because of what you mean to me as a friend, big sister, mentor and role model. I assumed you’ve been busy traveling for leisure. I had no clue. I had no clue it returned with a vengeance and I’m saddened by that fact.

I ache that I didn’t listen to that voice within that said “call Traci“. I kept saying I would get around to it. I assumed you were doing well, just living it up with family, traveling across country and around the world. I convinced myself that you would tell me if you weren’t well. But in hindsight, knowing you, no you wouldn’t–not this time–and you didn’t. Maybe had I been consistent and persistent with seeing and speaking with you, but hindsight is 20-20, and let’s keep it real as we always have—I’ve been going through my own “mess” which you knew quite well, hence why I know you wouldn’t tell me what you were now faced with.

I ache when I recall the times over the past three weeks my mom mentioned you and Milton. I didn’t pick up the phone. I didn’t log into social media. I didn’t even send you a quick text or even one of my simple “😘” texts, just to let you know that you were on my mind.

I know there’s nothing that I could’ve done to stop this from happening. But I want you to know how much you and our friendship has meant to me. I’ve told you in small chunks over the years and during a long conversation in January and again in March, but never to this extent and it hurts that it is now that I make the time to fully share the depth of how you have positively impacted my life.

Over the years I’ve supported your business ventures and you’ve supported mine. Thanks to you I got a great deal this year with AT&T through your business. Now every month that I pay my bill I will think of you. When you started the remodel I sent you a list of vendors I had worked with and you kept me updated this spring and summer on progress.

I stood by you during your last battle, years ago. You have been there for me over the years through some trials and tribulations, and when I had health scares. We’ve laughed together, cried together, celebrated together, and prayed together.

During your first battle with cancer, I will never forget your biggest concern. It was never you. It was always your family. You told me to make sure that the men we knew surrounded and supported Milton as he stood strong supporting you. So I made a phone call and let the menfolk do what they do to support each other.

I will keep Milton in my prayers and reach out to him, and do my part to make sure that other friends are also consistently doing so. We oftentimes see the strength of men but forget that they too have hearts that break and feel pain and sorrow, and we should not confuse the exterior with the interior.

Traci when we spoke that year you were concerned about your sons, especially Taylor, because in his youth so much is not made clear–and no one makes clear the battle of cancer and the possibility of losing a parent. It’s not taught in school or in church. So you were concerned about how he was handling it. We were pleasantly surprised at how well he did handle it. Mom and dad have done an excellent job of raising and nurturing a well-balanced, emotionally healthy, open, strong, faith-filled young man.

Not to say it didn’t and wouldn’t impact him. But to say he had and has all of the support and transparent dialogue from his parents that made this reality one that he could comprehend—better than most. I will keep Tay in my prayers, trusting and believing that this loss will strengthen him to be an even greater servant leader, husband, and father. In whatever ways that I can support him I will.

While many people would be concerned with self, you were and have always been focused on your family. You put God first, family second, and everything and everyone else after—and it is one of many reasons why I love, value and respect you, and will miss you dearly.

In a world full of fake, pretentious and self-absorbed people, it is so refreshing to find and spend time with someone who isn’t. I found that someone in the beautifully amazing Traci Gibson Little.

I hope to never forget when we celebrated your last chemo session at the hospital on November 13, 2013 with family and friends sporting wigs and high heels—claiming your victory. I still have my pictures from the day. You thought I would let a Global Forum get in the way of sitting beside you and distracting you during your chemo session. You told me to go to the Forum. Girl please! I rocked that wig and those high heels hard for you that day. If I could’ve done more that day to support you I would’ve.

Although years ago, the memories feel so near. In your eyes I saw courage, strength, hope, faith, and determination.

I also still have the picture of the birthday gift you gave me days before your last session. I’ve always cherished this gift and I always will. When I wear it I think of you and how your cup has always runneth over to others, including myself. Here’s the picture I sent to you on November 7, 2013 when my gift arrived.

Traci the beginning of this year did not prepare me for now. We celebrated with Milton during one of the best Super Bowl parties EVER! It was awesome seeing people dressed in their intergalactic costumes to raise money for the Children’s Hospital. I was just looking at our pictures several days ago when you crossed my mind (but I didn’t stop and immediately check in).

You helped me get settled in to my new role for this next chapter of my journey. Although tired from running around, you made the time to attend to my Next Chapter Dinner at 5Church on March 18th. It felt so great having you there in support of me.

Earlier this year we talked about resuming our lunch dates so we could strategize on some business ideas. You were excited about some ideas that you were tossing around and you thought they would be right up my alley. You had big plans for us for 2018 and beyond.

A few days ago my mom said “aren’t you and your friend Traci supposed to be working on something together?” Amazingly that was God speaking through mom to remind me to connect with my friend. Sadly, I just didn’t stop and pick up the phone.

A few months ago you said you would give me time to adjust to my new role. You apologized for being so busy. In April you were fighting a cold and traveling, and you said that after you recovered you wanted to meet up to give me a gift you got me awhile earlier. I told you to just focus on healing and getting better, and told you to let me know if you needed anything. But we both never slowed down to connect.

In May and June we connected and you apologized again for being so busy with travel, the remodel, and other things. You felt bad about not being there for friends. I told you to hush, because you’ve always been there when needed, and we would reconnect soon enough.

I told you I would give you time to adjust to Taylor’s transition to college—being an empty nester is a huge shift, and I assumed that you have been traveling and relaxing these past few months—since May was the trip to the Dominican Republic, and you had plans for more trips this year.

We set our eyes on this Fall to really focus on discussing our 2018 strategy.

We clearly thought we had more time.

I won’t lie. I’m in denial Traci. These past few weeks I’ve been so consumed with my “stuff” and awaiting the birth of my nephew (October 31st) that I didn’t stop and connect with you. I didn’t stop and log in to see the November 4th post from Milton saying you had passed. I had no clue. Not until today. I had no clue your celebration of life service was Friday. I found out today when I logged into Facebook and decided to check on family and friends. Milton’s post sharing Maria Saporta’s beautiful article about you floored me.

The moment I read the beginning of Milton’s post my heart sank and everything began to spin as I cried uncontrollably. Today my skies have darkened because I made a promise to God to listen when He tells me to contact a friend. I made a promise to Him to be obedient when He calls on me to do something, and I’ve been ignoring that small voice within. I made a promise to check in with you more to see that you’re okay and to let you know that I’m okay. And now you’re not here to answer my call and reply to my texts.

I assumed that we still had more time. I assumed wrong.

I love you Traci Gibson Little. You took me under your wing years ago and you loved me as though we’ve been friends for a lot longer than we have. You and Milton have always possessed an energy and light that positively stood out from the crowd, and it has always embraced me in a way that words cannot describe. You have always been genuine friends. Not fair weather friends. No added conditions. Just friends.

I know that you have transitioned on to better. I know that your new role was perfectly selected for you. I know that even now what is most important to you (after God) is your family.

I will strive to be the woman that you see in me, the force that you’ve always said I possess. I will strive to share your great legacy for generations to come to see and embrace. Your story is not simply one chapter in your book, but your entire book. That is your legacy and whatever I can do to help others learn about the dynamic woman who did so much in 55 amazing years, I will be honored to do it.

I’ve learned so much from you. Your grace, strength, conviction, authenticity, and that beautiful full-of-life smile—your presence is felt before you fully enter the room–and it’s not loud, in your face, and boisterous—it’s just humble, peaceful, and present. Traci, you and Milton are servant leaders that God placed together to positively change lives. You have done so individually and collectively, and even though you are not physically present–your presence will continue to positively impact and change lives.

Traci I hope to never forget the stories and lessons that you have shared with me, the advice and counsel you have given me, and the support that you provided me over the years—and all the way up to our last “support chat” this summer.

When I thought of you the other day and said to myself how I miss you, I had no clue. I miss you today and now it’s too late for that call or text. Today I’ve re-learned a lesson that I keep failing—the importance of slowing down consistently and long enough to check in with our loved ones.

Tomorrow is not promised. Our “Fall meetup” will never happen. But I will make and keep this promise Traci, when I get my things in order and launched, you will be a major part of my dedication—for years ago we connected because of our shared professional experiences (good and bad) as management consultants. Traci you are my added motivation and just because your business plans for us have been thrown a loop, doesn’t mean that I can’t still do something to honor you. I love you big sis! Thank you.

Sorry that this message is so long, but just like most of our conversations we could talk forever, why would today be any different? I love you Traci!!!!!

Love always,

~Natasha<
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1 Comment

  1. Powerful piece… Not even knowing her l,
    you painted a picture that feels like I’ve known her for a lifetime…

    My prayers are with you during time of bereavement & as you always do,
    continue to be a light (Voice) that need to hear your words of encouragement.

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