“I need you to listen to me”

“I’m in Costco; I need you to listen to me,” Denicia remembers her mom saying those words over the phone. Her mother loves a good sale, so these calls to her daughter were common, but on this day in May of 2019 the call was much more serious.

“Kingston said ‘Mommy died.'”

Kingston is Denicia’s nephew and was 5 years old at the time. Despite several attempts, Denicia’s mom could not get ahold of her other daughter, Kimberlon, Kingston’s mom. At 4:00 AM on the next day, Kimberlon’s home went up in flames. Her boyfriend had a history of domestic violence and arson. After a two-week-long manhunt, with the family in hiding, he was arrested. Kimberlon died on May 29th, 2019 at age 37. Her body was found in the house.

“I am raising her three children. My promise is to take care of myself so that I can be everything they need me to be. I also promise to shed light on domestic violence and to work with organizations that provide resources to victims impacted,” Denicia said in a message to us requesting Promise Cards.

When we asked her what would happen if she broke her promise, Denicia said “That is not an option.” Then she stopped talking; She had nothing else to say. Sometimes promises in life are designed to take away options. They force us to stare at only one road. Denicia said her nieces and nephew deserve a great life and giving up on them is not a choice.

“I feel like we were in a race…we are in a relay and [my sister] passed the baton to me and it is my job to finish the race,” Denicia said. A lot of people who are reading this have siblings and have thought about what would happen to their children if they passed away. Somewhere inside of us is a promise like Denicia’s that is never spoken.

Denicia recently started an exercise program to help maintain her health and build the positive attitude she is going to need for the journey ahead of her family. This is a picture of her sister Kimberlon and her son Kingston.