We sat in our booth for four hours.  And we didn’t stop talking the whole time.  Our conversation ranged from racism to history to dating to professional athletes and the lenience they are given for violence.

Skipwith Descendants

Carol, her mother Mattie, and her daughter Samira.

It was a holy night.

Last evening, Carol and I met for the first time at a restaurant in Cleveland’s Warehouse District, and I know I have a lifelong friend and confidante already.

This could, of course, happen between any two people – a phone call of introduction, a decision to have dinner while I’m in town, an immediate connection that feels perfect and special. But for me, my new friendship with Carol is particularly amazing because she is the descendant of Lucy Skipwith, a woman who was enslaved at Bremo, a woman who became a schoolteacher, a woman who was Carol’s great-great grandmother.

So on top of the powerful beauty and wisdom that Carol brings to our friendship, she also brings me Lucy – in her genes, in her living, in her very breath – and I am honored beyond words to call her my friend.

Much of our conversation I will hold close – precious, mine to treasure.  The words of a friendship just new but already deep.  But some I will also carry forth – with Carol’s approval – as she and I find a way together to share the history of slavery – a white woman and a black woman – hand in hand to heal ourselves and to offer the hope of healing to other people we meet.  It’s sacred work.

On this book tour, I have met incredible people – including Rebekah who has an idea for a book series with her friends, an idea that sounds really promising and who shared the book she is currently reading with me – Passages: The Marus Manuscripts, and Susan, a farmer friend working through the life of parenting and raising animals and writing, a kindred wanderer.

But it is Carol I will open the widest space in my heart for – because she has given me part of myself with her ancestry but also with her passion and her honesty and her courage – her profound, seemingly endless courage.

My love to you, dear friend.  Thank you for being alive, Carol. Thank you for surviving true horror, Lucy, so that I could know your granddaughter.


To read more about Carol’s family story, please see this article – the article that helped me find Carol – from the Plain Dealer.