Song of Solomon
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Song of Solomon
I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.
To my best loved gospel music legend. You know who you are, and you need no introduction. Long before I finally met you live and
In Living Color
, the powerful lyrics you wrote and sang somehow always took me
Back to the Cross
and blessed me beyond measure. Even if I had
Never Seen Your Face
, I'm convinced that your music would still be a melody that I would not only
Love Like Crazy
but it would be music for which I'd still possess this same level of
Crazy Like Love
that I have today.
After years of only knowing you as an anointed voice, a messenger of hope, and a minister of song, I feel blessed to now also define you as a faithful supporter and a cherished friend. Thanks for five decades of groundbreaking, uplifting, soul-stirring, Spirit-filled, life-changing music. Thank you for sharing
The Best Of
you with the world.
After all these years, I'm glad that you're
Still Standing Tall.
In everything give thanks for this is the will of God concerning you.
(I Thessalonians 5:18)
, for without you, I am nothing. You are worthy to be praised!
: You share my life, and you know better than anyone how involved I am when God is creating these stories through me. Thanks for lending me to my ministry (even when you don't want to) and for cheering me on as I endeavor to write stories that touch hearts and change lives.
To my parents,
Bishop H.H. and Mrs. Francine Norman
: Because of you, I know Him. Thanks for loving me enough to raise me according to His will and for being living examples of how it looks to grow in Him.
Crystal, Harold, Cynthia,
: Thank you for being proud of me and supporting me in all that I do. You are siblings extraordinaire!
(1968-1995): Just because.
: Thanks for wearing all those hats for all these years. I appreciate you, cuz.
: I'm not certain of the origin of the title “godparents,” but if it means a second pair of parents sent from God, then you're it.
: As my attorney/agent, you represent me well. I thank God for your legal eyes and your honest heart. I know you're looking out for my best interest.
: Thanks for promoting me every chance you get. You're awesome.
: I love y'all dearly. BFF, ladies . . . BFF!!!
: Psst! Look for your deserving plug in Chapter Seven of this story (smile).
Tia, Michelle, Vivi, Norma, Shewanda
: Thank you for sharing in the vision that is Anointed Authors on Tour. I'm flashing our AAOT “gangsta sign” right now. LOL!
: I don't know when we became so close, but I thank God for your friendship and trustworthiness. You've become like a sister to me, and I cherish that.
To the esteemed ladies of the
Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc.
(and especially to Atlanta's
): You've been a tremendous addition to my life. Thank you for your love, support, and sisterhood. Y'all some baaaaaad sistas! (((Turtle hugs!!)))
family: Thanks for continuing to be a vehicle that allows me to share my gift with the world. It has been an amazing ride.
To the members of
The Writer's Hut
The Writer's Cocoon Focus Group
: When I created these specialized writing fellowships, I had no idea they would bring me so much fulfillment. Thank you for pouring into me and allowing me to pour into you.
Revival Churches, Inc.
: Without good roots, a plant can't grow. Because of my connection to you, I have flourished.
Bishop Johnathan and Dr. Toni Alvarado
Total Grace Christian Center family
: Daily, I thank God for you. My cup runneth over every single time I worship with and among you. There
no place like Total Grace!
all other readers
who continue to embrace me: I don't take a single one of you for granted. Your support is appreciated to the highest level.
Brian McKnight, Fred Hammond, India Arie, Joss Stone, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Ruben Studdard, The Williams Brothers, Antonio Allen, Jonathan Nelson & Purpose,
: Music is so often my muse, and you all provided the melody that helped me get through this project. For the positive and uplifting lyrics and music that you impartedâthank you!
The worst day of Shaylynn Ford's life was the Wednesday her soul mate was murdered. Gunned down in cold blood at the age of twenty-six. No witnesses, no arrests, no suspects, no leads. And seventy-two hours after his assassination, as she buried him, Shaylynn could feel a piece of herself being laid to an eternal rest too. Eternal. Forever. Dead. Just like her husband, she was never to live again. But as lifeless as her body felt, her mind was alive and well, being bombarded with the one question that would likely never be answered.
It was a sad day. Even the heavens cried, rendering scattered showers that sprinkled the ground around the tent that had been provided for shelter. But the rainfall had done nothing to hamper the steadfast crowd. The graveside service was attended by some of the state's most elite dignitaries, all of whom seemed genuinely affected by the unexpected loss of their young colleague. Men hung their heads in sorrow, and women wept quietly into lace handkerchiefs. It was an insurmountable loss for the city. “Insurmountable loss.” That was what the
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
had called it. Everyone was saddened by the unexpected tragedyâor so it seemed.
Helicopters, displaying news channel logos and bearing cameras that captured footage of the ritual, hovered above the cemetery. Uninvited guests pressed in great numbers against the iron gates that surrounded the cemetery, trying to catch a glimpse of the burial. Camera bulbs flashed, and supporters yelled out their condolences. All of it was done in total disregard for the family's public wish to have a private ceremony. But while the unethical and sometimes callous actions of the city's residents were unwanted, none of it was unexpected. After all, the deceased had made history in the city.
Election polls showed that Emmett Ford was a crowd favorite, leading in double digits throughout the milestone race. It was astonishing that in a city that had a 44% to 39% white/ black ratio, the major political race wasn't even close. Emmett had won by a landslide. It was as if the dream of a colorblind society had been birthed in Wisconsin's largest city. But a swarm of recent rumors had accused the metropolis of being relieved that they'd only had to recognize their city's first African American mayor for a few short weeks.
Could his killing have been racially motivated?
Shaylynn's eyes darted to the former long-standing mayor, whom Emmett had easily defeated. His head was covered by the blackness of the raincoat that he wore, and his eyes were cast downward in a sorrowful manner, but when she looked at him, Shaylynn's mind immediately took a quick journey to a thriving county in Atlanta, Georgia, where a former incumbent sheriff was serving a life sentence for orchestrating the murder of the man who had defeated him in his bid for reelection.
Could Emmett's killing have been politically motivated?
“God bless you,” the funeral attendant said in a solemn voice that matched his facial expression with perfection as he handed Shaylynn a neatly folded American flag. It had once draped Emmett's expensive black marble coffin.
When she didn't readily reach for the honorable banner that had been folded into a perfect triangle, the finely tailored gentleman laid it in the limited space that her lap provided. From behind the dark sunglasses that covered her face, Shaylynn watched the tears from her own eyes be immediately absorbed as they fell onto the red, white, and blue fabric. Twenty-three seemed far too young to be a widow, but apparently it wasn'tâbecause she was.
The program was brief, and although well-wishers passed by and voiced remarks of how proud Emmett would have been of the noble ceremony, Shaylynn was left to take their word for it. Grief had rendered her numb and barely able to comprehend anything that had taken place since the two officers stood at her door with stoic faces and gave her the news of the shooting.
As the people filed by her, patting her shoulder, shaking her hand, and sometimes kissing her cheek, Shaylynn couldn't even rally a smile. Judas had kissed Jesus' cheek too. It meant nothing. Any one of their lips could be a mark of betrayal. Each and every one of the faces she saw, whether Democrat or Republican, was a suspect. The killer was still on the run, and as far as Shaylynn was concerned, it could be any one of them, or none of them at all. She trusted no one. Without Emmett, she had no friends. Even the in-laws who sat in the chairs nearest her were estranged.
She wasn't exactly the bride that his parents wanted their son to take. According to them, Shaylynn was too young, too uneducated, and far too poor to qualify for the awarding of the Ford name. They'd never bothered to build a relationship with her before, and without Emmett, the one person who linked them, Shaylynn didn't expect to have much of a relationship with them at all from this point forward. And in her opinion, that was just fine.
Life as Shaylynn had known it for the past five years would never be the same. The long term plans to repeat their marriage vows on their tenth anniversary would never be a reality. The newly constructed four-bedroom home that she and Emmett had just moved into in preparation for their expanding family would now seem larger and emptier than ever. And just like his life, Emmett's mounting excitement about the pending birth of the child that had taken them three years to conceive, had been cut short by an assassin's bullet.
The family was asked to stand in preparation for being escorted to their cars, but Shaylynn wasn't ready to leave. Not yet. And she dared anybody to try to make her. That was
husband's body that would be encased in a casket until his flesh rotted away from his bones. It was
life that was being buried under six feet of filthy dirt, never to breathe again. She dared themâany one of themâto tell her how long she could linger.
Shaylynn stood as directed, but as others began dispersing, her feet remained planted. Firm. She made no effort to leave. Her eyes burned from days of crying. Her body ached from lack of sleep. Her heart bled from the hole that wouldn't heal.
Even breathing was painful. With one hand, Shaylynn clung to a cluster of violets, Emmett's favorite flower, and with the other, she hugged the flag close to her protruding belly. The damp soil beneath her feet held her in place as steadily as stood the two fully dressed and alert armed bodyguards who positioned themselves on either side of her. They hadn't been able to protect her husband, and as helpless, lost, and hollow as she felt right now, Shaylynn hoped to God that if somewhere in the distance, a sniper had his gun pointed in her direction, they'd fail to protect her too.