In Loving Memory: Candice Y. Hamilton

My friend Candice Hamilton died of Multiple Sclerosis last May, but I just found out two days ago. I knew that her health had taken a major downward turn in the last year or so. She’d had to move back in with her parents after all these years of independence. I checked in on her periodically via text messages. “Hi, babe. Thinking of you.” “Hey, how’s the weather been for you? I know you get on better with the cooler temperatures.” This last stretch, however, had been much too long. It had been nearly nine months since I heard from Candice when she texted me to see how I was doing with the Covid crisis and lockdown. I texted her that I was learning to play the piano. She thought that was exciting. That was the end of March.

She died exactly eight weeks later.

Recently, I sent her a belated Happy New Year’s text: “Happy New Year, Candice!! (double hearts) thinking about you!! I never received a response, which was not like her. She always got right back to me. If she got back to me the next day, she apologized for waiting so long to respond. The silence caused a feeling in my stomach. An emptiness. After six days I reached out again: “Candice, thinking about you, babe (double hearts).” Still nothing. That’s when I knew she was gone.

I went to Facebook for confirmation, finding RIP messages on her page immediately. I cried without crying in the front seat of my car. The fact that I had been walking around on Earth without Candice part of it for all these months struck me deep. Here are a few things I’ll miss about my friend Candice:

  • She was a good listener. If I needed to vent about school, or my kids, or my partner, she let me and always had the best, most practical advice, some I still use to get me from one day to the next.
  • She was so amazingly giving. Back during our days at Howard University, she was always flush with cash, and I was always broke. It was nothing for her to treat me to a quick lunch every now and again.
  • Sometimes I had money. And sometimes we’d walk to U Street and go to Café Nema and drink cappuccinos with shots of Kalua. And talk and talk and talk.
  • She was so smart, much smarter than I, and I loved that about her. I met her at the end of my sophomore year and she encouraged me to join Phi Sigma Pi, an honor fraternity (even the women were “brothers.”). We had the most fun hanging out and laughing.
  • She was short, and petite, and cute, with little Lilliputian feet. She walked so light, like on top of her own miniature clouds.

Oh, what else can I say! Now is the time for poetry, but I’m no poet. I’ll say this, though. She was wonderful, and I loved her so much. I hope to God she knew that.

Published by Gail Upchurch

Originally from the south side of Chicago, Gail currently lives in Maryland with three kiddos and a hubs. She writes young adult and adult fiction and has been known to go overboard with the cheesy snacks. She's got a lot of pet peeves, but the biggest one of all are jeans that cut off her circulation. Not a fun situation. When she's not writing stories and talking to the characters that live in her head, Gail teaches composition, literature, and creative writing at the University of Maryland, College Park.

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