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  • Writer's pictureAlexis A. McCoy Gonzalez

The day I decided to leave my fulltime job and pursue my career as a singer, was a decision that fell on me. I had been trying to balance my work and career life for years, but my work life seemed to always win. Over the years there have been many opportunities I have passed up because my work schedule didn’t permit or because of fear. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be singer.

Unlike most people I didn’t discover my singing voice until I was fifteen years old when I was encouraged by our church choir director Mrs. Lisa to sing Whitney Houston’s “I Love the Lord” for our Christmas concert. Nervous out of my mind about singing a solo in front of the church, I quickly declined. That evening at dinner my dad asked me and my little sister Chanel how choir rehearsal went. Chanel couldn’t wait to tell my parents that I declined singing a solo for the Christmas Concert. After my sister’s response, my parents turned their attention to me to hear my explanation. I nonchalantly said, “I don’t feel like singing a solo for the Christmas Concert”. My parents were never the type to pry at my sister and I personal decision making. If I told them I didn’t feel like singing then I didn’t have to sing, end of story.

That night after dinner I was sitting in my room reading a book and my dad knocks on the door. My father was a man who believed in everyone living life to the fullest and would always encourage myself and Chanel to walk in our purpose. When he entered my room, I knew he was coming to talk about the solo. He came in, sat at the end of my bed and asked, “why don’t you really want to do the solo?” To avoid the question, I said “dad, we both know no one is going to show up to the Christmas Concert”. He said “Lauren, I’m serious”. I took a deep breath and said “because I’m scared, and you know how I get in front of an audience when I speak. My voice starts shaking and I forget the words. What if that happens while I’m singing? Then I’ll be the laughingstock of the whole church” He responded, “The question you should be asking yourself is, are you doing this for people or to praise God?” He leaned over and kissed me on the forehead, told me goodnight and left the room.

That night I had a dream of me standing in front of the church at the Christmas Concert singing and everyone was in the audience singing along. I could even see that my parents were in the front row smiling. That following Wednesday night at choir rehearsal, I informed Mrs. Lisa that I wanted to sing the solo. She replied by saying “Praise God!”. Since it was my first solo Mrs. Lisa wanted to schedule a private rehearsal to help me get comfortable with the song. During rehearsal she would repeatedly say to me “Lauren find your own voice”. At the time my fifteen-year-old mind had no clue what that meant. We rehearsed up to the day before the concert. After our final rehearsal Mrs. Lisa said “Lauren, I am so proud of you. Just remember that tomorrow when you’re on that stage singing, its less about you and more about how God will work through you. Remember to sing from the heart and the rest will follow”.

She was right. I was nervous all the way up until the moment my feet stepped on that stage. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and every nervous feeling I had in my body melted away. The music came on, I opened my eyes and looked out at the audience. The first people I see are my parents sitting in the front row smiling. I smiled back at them, took another deep breath and started singing. That was the first time in my life I felt pure joy and by the end of the song everyone in the audience was on their feet clapping. When I exited off the stage, Chanel ran to me crying and gave me a big hugged. After the concert everyone kept telling me I did a good job and that I had a beautiful voice. From that moment I knew my purpose was to sing.

Fast forward 10 years, I’m 25 years old working as a Restaurant Manager, a position I never thought I would be in. Then it happened, I received the opportunity to audition for a role in a Broadway Musical. The only issue is the audition was happening during my work shift. That morning when I got the news, I called the other managers to see if someone would cover my shift the following day so I could attend the audition. Sadly no one would. I remember calling my sister Chanel and asking her what I should do. She gave me the response my dad would have given if he was still living. “Walk in your purpose”. That advise was great and all but walking in my purpose wasn’t paying my bills yet. Out of fear I ignored my sisters advise and told my agent I couldn’t make the audition. That night when I went to bed, I had a dream of me performing on Broadway. As I’m singing, I look into the audience, I see my sister, my mom, and my dad sitting in the front row smiling. At the end of the dream my dad said “Baby girl I’m so proud of you. You decided to walk in your purpose after all”. I remember waking up out of the dream crying. I had let my dad down and most importantly I had let that 15-year-old girl inside of me down.

After moments of crying, I picked up my phone and emailed my agent to tell her I will be attending the audition. When I woke up the next day. My agent had replied to my email, it said that opportunity is no longer on the table. We will reach out if any other opportunities come up this week. I replied to the email with a simple thanks. After that, I made the decision to always walk in my purpose. I sat down and made a plan. My mother would always say “Fear stems from the unknown. Once you accept the unknown, fear will no longer control the narrative.” Although I didn’t know if my plan would work or not, I knew for sure that I wasn’t going to allow fear to continue to control the narrative of my life.

That night I went to work. I worked my whole shift and at the end of the night I placed my keys and resignation letter on the owner’s desk. I walked out the restaurant and never looked back. Have I experienced some bumps in the road? Yes, but I stayed the course and kept fear in my rear view. Since leaving the restaurant I have received so many singing opportunities. Honestly, it’s like God was just waiting for me to take steps towards walking in my purpose and I’m glad I did.

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  • Writer's pictureAlexis A. McCoy Gonzalez

From the moment we first met I knew she was going to be my wife. We met at my cousin Kayla’s game night that she hosted once a month. The invitation normally included the same group of people, but that night Lizanne had attended. My first thought when she walked in the house was “damn she’s beautiful”. Of course, all the other single guys at the party thought the same thing. In true male fashion, they all wanted to shoot their shot. she entertained their attention for a little bit but that was about it. So, we started the game night off with twister. Kayla had separated us into groups of twos, and I was partnered with Lizanne. She turned to me and said, “I’m super competitive so I hope you’re ready to win”. I laughed a little and responded, “I’m ready”. That night we defeated everyone in twister. She was the first woman I had encountered that was as competitive as I was, the only difference was, she was cuter. After our big win she said “David, we make a good team. you’re going to have to be my partner from now on”. I responded, “I think we could make that happen”, as a big smile came across her face, which forced me to smile. She said, “I’m going to get a drink, do you want one?”. I said “yeah, I’ll take one”. She said “OKAY! I’ll be right back”. She walked away to get the drink and I stood there looking for a quiet place for us to sit and have a conversation. I quickly searched the room and found two seats in the corner. I rushed over to claim them because she returned pretty quickly. When she walked over, she said “You didn’t tell me what type of drink you wanted so I just made you what I was drinking”. “that’s cool”, was my response. I took a sip of the drink and almost died. it was pure vodka. Completely taken back, I asked “what did you put in this!?” She laughed and said, “a little ice”. After composing myself, I said “remind me to give you my drink request next time”. She smiled and said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t think it would be that bad”. That smile of hers always pulls at my heart strings.

The rest of the night we sat in that corner talking. She was amazing. As we were talking, the only thing I kept thinking was God please don’t let this moment end. At the end of the night as I was walking Lizanne to her car I told her we should hangout again sometime. She said “Okay, give me your phone”. I reached into my pocket and handed her my phone. she added her number to my contacts. I said, “call it to make sure it’s the right number”. She laughed and called her phone. Flashing her beautiful smile, showed me the screen and said, “you are a mess”. When we arrived at her car, I said “Well, I’m glad I was able to escort you to your car safely”. She smiled and softly said “have a nice night David”. I said, “you too Lizanne”. She got into her car and drove away.

From that day on Lizanne and I spoke every day. She was funny, intelligent, and ambitious. everything I was looking for in a woman. Due to our busy schedules, planning our first date seemed almost impossible. At the time, I was working on this big case at my firm, and she was working long hours at the hospital. No matter how many times we tried to get something on schedule, it just never worked out. Then on the Sunday morning of March 23rd, 2014, I was woken up by someone excessively ringing my doorbell. I angrily hopped out the bed rushed toward the door yelling “who is it!? “I quickly opened the ready to tell the person off and it was Lizanne standing there with a huge smile on her face. She sang “Good morning” as she walked into the house. I asked “what are you doing here? I thought you had a shift at the hospital this morning. She said “I’m here to cook us breakfast. I did have shift this morning, but I called in sick”. I said, “aww you called out sick for me?”. She looked at me with a big smile on her face and asked, “where are your skillets located”. I pointed to the cabinets next to stove. She said “thanks” and requested that I get dressed. All she said was “we have a long day ahead of us” and she was right. We didn’t make it back to my house until 11pm that night.

We spent the day doing whatever we wanted to do. That’s what I love about Lizanne, she just took the bull by the horns and started riding. When we arrived back at my house that night, we decided to end our date with a movie. I popped some popcorn, made us a drink and we cuddled up on the couch. I said, “thank you for today, it was one of the best first dates I’ve ever been on”. With a huge smile on her face, she said “I’m glad I set the bar so high”. I smiled and responded, “you definitely did”. She looked at me and said “honestly, I’ve been waiting on this day for months. I looked at her and said, “me too”. Then, out of nowhere, it happened. We kissed! a moment we both had been anticipating. She was a great kisser and had the softest lips. After our date Lizanne and I relationship went into full drive. We went from spending everyday together, to moving in with one another, getting engagement and getting married in a matter of two years. Many thought we were moving too fast, but we didn’t care because we loved one another.

She is my whole world and stand here 25 years later, still honored and thankful to have her as my wife. I look forward to spending another 25 years together with her.

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  • Writer's pictureAlexis A. McCoy Gonzalez

If someone walked up to me three years ago and told me that I would be waking up early every Saturday morning to take my daughter to ballet class, I would have laughed in their face. Yet, here I am, the only dad sitting on the sidelines watching my little girl struggle to follow the choreography her ballet instructor created. Being Lizzy’s father is one of the most important jobs I will ever have in my life, But I didn’t always feel that way. The night Lizzy was conceived, it was my best friend Mike’s 30th birthday. Nasima, Lizzy’s mother, and I had been drunk dancing together all night, so it was inevitable for us to end up going home together. When we got into to her apartment, we wasted no time getting undressed. Neither one of us stop to think about protection we just went for it. The next morning when I woke up, I slowly slipped out the bed quietly grabbed my clothes and left. To be honest she was just a woman I smashed that night and I wasn’t planning to see her again.

Boy was I wrong. On, June 4th, 2017, I received a text from a random number saying “Hi Lance, it’s Nasima, from Mike’s birthday. Can you please give me a call today when you get the chance? I have something very important to share with you.” The first question I asked myself was “What’s so important that she needs to speak to me?” Then I screenshot the message and sent it over to Mike to get his take on it. He instantly replies with the curious emoji face. He went on to explain that she is one of his wife Natalie’s college friends that just moved to town. I replied with a thumbs up and went back to work. That night when I arrived home, I grabbed a drink, sat on the couch and called Nasima. The phone didn’t even ring three times before she picked up. She said “hello?” I responded, “Hey Nasima, it’s Lance.” She took a few moments to respond. I repeated myself again. She finally responds and says “Hi, thank you so much for calling me.” I said, “no problem”. She took a deep breath and say’s “I went to the doctor today because I haven’t been feeling like myself for two weeks now. I thought I had food poising, but it turns out I’m two weeks pregnant.” When she said those words, I think I stopped breathing for about two seconds. Frantically I asked her was she certain it's not food poising. She responded, “They took a urine and a blood test, and they both came back positive.” I was so shocked my mind couldn’t even form any words to speak. We sat in silence for a few minutes. She broke the silence by saying “I know this isn’t the conversation you planned to have today, but I wanted to give you the option of being a part of your child’s life. I will give you a couple of days to make a decision.” All I could say was thank you. We both said our goodbyes and we hung up the phone.

I remember drinking the whole bottle of whisky my father gifted me when I received my promotion at the firm earlier that year. After that phone call I went through the 7 stages of grief in one night. First, I was in complete denial that I was truly her baby’s father. It had to be food poisoning. Then I started feeling guilt. Nasima seemed to be a good woman. I began to see how much this would change her life and how lost she must be feeling at the moment. But as was thinking about her life changing, I began to get angry at myself. How could I be so stupid and not use a fucking condom? The sex wasn’t even that great from the little parts that I could remember. By 2am I had become full on depressed. I sat on my living room floor drunk writing a pros and con’s lists on being part of my unborn child’s life. I was just getting my life together. Where was a child going to fit into my lifestyle? The next morning when I woke up, I lifted my head from my extensive pros and con’s list and at the bottom of the page in big letters circled was “I’M GOING TO BE A FATHER”. I took a deep breath grabbed my phone, texted Nasima and said, “I’m going to be a father”.

It seemed like things went into autopilot once I sent that text. I had to share the news with my parents before my big mouth sister Lisa got wind of the news and decided to share it on my behalf. Every weekend our family gathered for Sunday dinner, a tradition that has been in my family for decades. My sisters, their families and I gather at my parent’s home. Being the youngest of the family and the only boy, I wasn’t sure how my mother would take the news. During dinner my father always asks everyone if they have some exciting news to share with the family. My oldest sister Laurie shared that she has decided to open a second location for her salon. Everyone clapped and congratulated her. My little niece Kelly shared that she had been casted for a part in the musical being presented at her school. Everyone clapped and congratulated her. As I sat with a smile on my face watching my older sister Leah cheer on her daughter. I couldn’t help but picture me being a supportive father to my future son or daughter. After the congratulations died down for my niece, my dad asked if anyone else had something to share before he blessed the food. I softly spoke and said, “I do”. I took a deep breath and said I’m having a baby. The room got extremely quiet, then my sister Lisa burst out in laughter. Everyone was confused by her response. My mother asked her out of annoyance why she was laughing? She replied “mom, Lance isn’t having a baby and if he is, it’s probably by some random girl he met at a party”. Everyone quickly looked back at me for an explanation. My nieces and nephews were sitting at the table, so I gave them the very edited version. She was a girl I was hanging out with last month, we decided to part ways and last week she found out she was pregnant. That Sunday dinner was the quietest dinner I had ever experienced in my life. It took my parents a couple weeks to swallow the “Lance is having a kid” pill, but once they did, I began to truly accept that I was going to be a father.

As months went on Nasima and I began to get close. If she wasn’t at my house, I was at hers. Our common goal was to make sure our baby girl was healthy. When you’re preparing for a baby, there are some important decisions you have to make as future parents. Our first important decision was whose house will we be building the nursery in? In my excitement for the arrival of the baby, I quickly agreed to the nursery being in my home. Not taking into consideration that I had just agreed to Nasima moving in with me. Within a matter of two weeks, she had completely taken over my house. I didn’t mind it at first because I knew us coming together under one roof would benefit our daughter. Things took a drastic turn after our baby shower when Nasima decided to move her mother in without discussing it with me.

We initially agreed that her mother would come and stay for a couple of weeks after the baby was born to help. So, you can imagine my surprise when I arrived home from work to Nasima and her mom relocating all the equipment from my game room to the basement. I quickly became defensive asking Nasima what she was doing in my game room. She responded in a quirky tone and said, “setting up my mom’s room”. I asked Nasima if we could speak in private. I walked into my bedroom, and she followed. I closed the door behind her, and she asked me “what’s going on?” I replied, “I could ask you the same question”. With an attitude, she said "what’s that’s supposed to mean?” I took a deep breath and explained that we didn’t agree to her mother moving in. We agreed to her coming to stay with us for a couple of weeks after the baby was born. She quickly cuts me off and says “first, my mother isn’t moving in. I asked her to come up a little earlier to help us prepare for the baby. With you working all the time, we could use all the help we can get.” I replied “Look, I understand that this is our first time having a baby and doing something like this, but I just ask that you please run things by me first before you start inviting people and making changes to my home.” She replied, “will do!” And walked out the bedroom and slammed the door.

Nasima’s due date was three weeks away and I was getting nervous as hell. I was excited to meet my baby girl, but I was nervous that I wasn’t going to be a great dad. Most of the times in my life when I was nervous my pops would mysteriously call me with words of wisdom. But this time it was my older sister Laurie. Since I was a little boy, Laurie and I have always been very close. No matter what choices I’ve made in my life she has always supported me, but since the pregnancy announcement, she has been kind of keeping her distance. So, when I received a call from her, I was shocked. I answered the phone with hesitation and said “hello?”. She quickly responded, “Why do you sound like you’re surprised to hear from me?”. I admitted that I was surprised. She changed the subject by asking me how the baby was doing? If we had everything ready? Did I get a car seat for the car yet? After her series of questions, I asked “How did you prepare for Lilly and Nicholas?” She took a deep breath and said “I didn’t. I just took everything one day at a time. As a parent you can read all the books and come up with all these different plans, that’s all great. But you won’t really know what to do until you hold your little girl in your arms, and she looks into your eyes. Something about that first eye contact with your child that's when you make a promise to them that you will do whatever it takes to make sure they have what they need.” As I sat there listening to her give her advice, my nervousness began to melt away. She went on to say “I believe you’re going to be a wonderful dad. You just have to believe it too.”

Nasima’s water broke at 3 am on March 1st, 2018. When we got to the hospital Nasima called me to the side of her bed and said, “Lance if anything happens to me promise me that you will take care of our little girl.” I replied, “I promise” Shortly after the nurses came back to roll her to the delivery room while I went to go get suited up. When I walked in the delivery room, the doctor was between Nasima’s legs getting prepared for the delivery. I walked around to the front of the blanket where Nasima’s head was and grabbed her hand. I kept repeating “you got this!”. The doctor said, “Nasima when I tell you to push give me the biggest push you can, okay?” Crying through the words she says “OKAY!”. Within a matter of minutes, she started pushing and as I’m looking over the cover, I could see Lizzy’s little head coming out. Nasima pushed again and her arms came out next. a couple more pushes and Lizzy had arrived into the world. They cleared her lungs and she started crying. I looked down at Nasima and smiled. They cleaned her off and handed her to me. As soon as I held her, tears came to my eyes. Then she opens her eyes and looked at me and that promise my sister said I would make, happened. The fear of letting her down as a dad didn’t even cross my mind. All I wanted to do was keep her safe and be the best dad I could be to her.

From the moment Lizzy arrived in the world I have been part of her life.

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