September at-some-point 2017, I am sure you remember that day better than I do.
Nafi Bryan, Rico, myself, and you were at the beach just a few days before that September at-some-point day; we had had so much fun. We laughed and we joked about the way my feet turn out when I walk and about the way Nafi pinched your chubby cheeks to show the world you were his. That day, I watched you fall more in love with Nafi Bryan. I watched you enlist and draft electric energy from his presence. I couldn't help but remain a spectator of your love. Your oneness with it; it was so beautiful and biblical. It was right.
The last thing I thought about on September at-some-point, 2018 was the little life fashioning its home inside of you.
September at-some-point, 2017 you conceived. I remember you asking me to read your pregnancy test. "Amari... what does this mean..?" I remember staring at the test and immediately denying any chance of my niece's existence. "Girl stop playing, those tests are negative*... go throw those test away and never look at them again," I remember those words leaving my lips and I remember your temporary relief. Two days later you came into our shared room, face more stoic than usual, to give me a paper confirming your suspicions.
Four weeks and one day pregnant.
About three days passed and I could tell you were struggling. Struggling not with the physical pain of pregnancy, but with the suddenness of it all. You had plans Nafissa. Plans no ordinary women would dream of. Plans most men wouldn't dare draw up on their little managerial whiteboards in their respective offices. You never said this aloud, but I imagine you asking yourself " what the hell am I going to do?"
You had a choice. To "get-rid-of" the life growing inside of you or allow it to consume you. Use you for nutrients and nourishment. Drain you of your energy, your time and your willingness to tackle life head-on. To keep the baby would, for most people, be a termination of plans, of prosperity, and of life as they know it. But you were not most people.
You had a choice. And you decided, after what I am sure was a long, private and desperate prayer to Jesus Christ, that you would carry Naomi Faith- Ann Bryan into this world. And, you would carry on with your life as planned.
You never looked back.
I watched you as the months grew older and your body grew rounder. I saw the pain in your face, your constant need to vomit and your constant need to pee; I could tell pregnancy was poking holes in your faith. But you never stopped believing things would work out.
I was always amazed when you rose out of bed for class the next morning. You rarely skipped class. You made it your personal mission to do everything to the best of your ability. I watched you perform in your last dance recital… they didn't know you were pregnant, but I did. And I was awestruck.
That night, the night of your dance recital, I watched pure faith and determination drip off of your glowing body and shimmer like glitter when it hits the sunshine. I've never seen anything more beautiful than that Nafissa.
I've never met a more faithful person (besides my own mother), that walked so gracefully through such trying circumstances.
In the nine months after September at-some-point 2017, I watched you climb every step placed before you and hurdle every obstacle in front of you.
I never saw you cry (and we lived together … I'm still trying to figure that one out).
To be honest Nafissa, I was so worried, and concerned, and distraught for you; I couldn't help but stare at you; at your belly, at your swollen hips, at your stiff back, at your strong, stunningly calm eyes. Your eyes reflected a reverence for Christ that spoke a healthy fear of the Lord into my bones. They seemed to say, "Amari, God's got this."
And he did. Because he always does.
On June 25th, 2018 at around 6 pm, You pushed Naomi Faith Ann Bryan into the world. Just hours before your daughters birth, you completed the final for your summer classes. You, as people in their 20s would say, did that.
And you did it without ever doubting God would bring you through it.
When life pressed down upon you, you looked up from your desperation and screamed to God, asking him to make your life, and your mistakes mean something. He reminded you that all beautiful things, like the diamond wedding ring you now wear, require pressure.
Nafissa, you precious gem, you trusted God enough to press in on you until you became two separate beings. You didn't know where the money for a baby was going to come from. You didn't know how you were going to finish school or find a job or stay involved. You didn't understand God's unclear plan- but you trusted Him anyhow.
On September at-some-point, 2017, you joined biblical greats like Ruth and Naomi (for whom your daughter is named) and were reborn in God's image. A diamond and her daughter; you withstood necessary pressure and allowed yourself to be transformed into something so much more polished and poised.
Nafissa (McClenny) Bryan, you have lived up to your name's sake (precious gem) and your display of great faith has forever changed me.
It is my only hope that your story, though told through my eyes, will provoke someone to believe in and trust in our God the way you do.
The greatest praise any one person could ever receive is emulation, and I hope to God my faith can replicate your's one day.
*If you suspect you may be pregnant, do not wait! Go to the doctors and get a pregnancy test… it can be very easy to misread a pregnancy test, especially if you are panicked!