“I love you” were the last words Rosalind Bishop said to her husband David over the phone while he made his way home from work in November 2011. “He said, ‘I love you’ and hung up,” says 43-year-old Rosalind. She prepared her usual pot of coffee for them to share. This was their ritual before David would go lie down after his work day. “I ended up falling asleep. I had a dream that my husband and I were crying. We were begging God to please not take him away. He is special to you but he is special to us. Please don’t take him away.” The mother of five, who had given birth a month earlier, wept uncontrollably in her sleep.
When she awoke two hours later, her pillow was soaked with tears and David still wasn’t home.
“I was calling his phone over and over. I was leaving messages. I was so worried.” Four hours went by and still no word from David, but Rosalind was getting several calls from her tenant. She ignored the calls until they showed no sign of stopping. “My tenant told me that there were detectives outside the house looking for Dave. I said, ‘what for? Dave?’ Rosalind asked her tenant to give the detectives her number and ask that they call her. “They asked me to come to the hospital because there had been an accident and your husband was involved.”
The native New Yorker drove a mile to the hospital in her current hometown of Jonesboro, Georgia. “All kinds of thoughts were running through my head.” When she entered the hospital, all eyes were on her and that made Rosalind nervous. “I told the receptionist who I was and she said, ‘she’s here, she’s here.’” She walked up and down the hospital corridor with her head down and her hands in her pocket talking to God. “God, if this is that bad than let it be over.” It was then two officers approached her and led her into a room. She demanded to know how David was doing but they wouldn’t answer. “I kind of threatened one officer to tell me where my husband was. He ended up telling me David had died before the hospital Chaplain arrived for the news.” Rosalind learned her husband had been in a terrible car accident that took his life. While there was no autopsy done, it is believed that David may have suffered a heart attack when his car ran off the road and crashed. “I was asked if I wanted to see the body but I just couldn’t.” Rosalind couldn’t bear to see her big teddy bear in that state. “It was the worst day of our lives.”
She left the hospital wondering how she and their five children were going to pull through this nightmare. Ever since David and Rosalind fell for each other back when they were teens, she was 17 and he was 16, they had always put an emphasis on depending on one another and supporting each other. “When we first got married and had our son, we asked for no one’s help. We did it all ourselves. We did not want to burden anyone.”
Rosalind’s oldest son David Jr. understood what depending on each other meant to his parents. The day after the accident David Jr. was in his parent’s bathroom crying. Rosalind went in and asked him what he was thinking about. An emotional David told his mother that he can’t go back to school to finish the 10th grade because he has to take care of her and his two brothers, Daniel and Darius, and two sisters Alayanah and Amaya. This brought tears to Rosalind’s eyes then and now as she recalls that heartbreaking exchange.
“My husband was very responsible and caring and left life insurance for us.” They were able to mourn for two years without worrying about food and bills. David’s job, he worked as a computer network administrator, also helped the family tremendously Rosalind says. “The children are very proud of their dad because they see that even from the grave he was still taking care of us. This has always been his way.”
The moment Rosalind knew that she “liked “ David she was almost 18 and they had been friends talking on the phone religiously for a couple of years. “We were at a party and me and my girl went to dance. We had these heavy coats and David said he would hold our coats. He held his arm out and everybody put their coats across his arms. I was so distracted by this act of kindness I couldn’t dance.”
Rosalind wasn’t allowed to date until she was 18. On her 18th birthday David was on her front steps eager to embark into new relationship as boyfriend and girlfriend. After she turned 18, David and Rosalind were never apart even for one a day. “I had 26 years of a loving life with my husband, so no dating for me anymore. What some are looking for in their later years, I had in my early years. I believe in soul mates and that is who my husband is. I wouldn’t break that spiritual bond with physical satisfaction in a temporary world.”
When personal tragedy strikes, it can sometime inspire us to closely examine the manner in which we live our lives. Rosalind said she experienced an awakening following David’s death which led her to question everything she believed in. “I’m much more spiritual than I was before my husband was here. I seek purpose through my faith and prayer.” Explaining further, she opens up about breaking away from religion and the church. “I walked away because they say to pray and God will make everything alright. If you do this and do that, things will be good. None of that brought my husband back when I did them. It was like wake up you are not living in reality. It’s my personal relationship with God that keeps me strong and not the church or religion.”
She believes she understands better today what it means to be spiritual. “All the physical things in life distracted me from getting to this point. Life is not about finding the love of your life, getting married, having children, buying cars, houses and careers. We all need to discover why we are really here. I know that I am just a small part of all creation.” She credits her spiritual enlightenment and her children with helping her get through David’s passing.
“I was able to share with the children what mommy had learned about death. Spiritually he is still with us. They understand this and most adults don’t. Daddy is still with us even if physically he is not here.” There are still tears shed but they are comforted by the belief that David’s spirit is still very much present. They went to counselling, provided by Dave’s job, but the children didn’t want go back. “They didn’t like it because it made them cry. I wasn’t going to force them.”
Being a single mother with five children, Rosalind encountered some financial hardships once the life insurance ran out. She is an entrepreneur with degrees in retail marketing (Dave and her owned a clothing store and beauty supply store at one time) and business marketing and food services. Rosalind was in the middle of getting her masters in Science in Human Services: Management of Non Profit Agencies. “Months after he passed I re-enrolled and finished. I’m now going for my doctorate in health administration.”
Life got very expensive and with no help, Rosalind found creative ways to provide for her children. She started her own garden of fresh fruits and vegetables in their backyard when the price of feeding six mouths got to be too much for her to take on by herself. “Little did I know that the garden would not only feed us healthy food, save us money and become my daily therapy?” She started a private gardening group on Facebook to spread the benefits of growing your own food and share photos and helpful tips with a community of gardeners. “I knew I wanted to help other families start their own garden and grow their own food.”
Rosalind also found herself stepping back into her music industry roots. She once worked in the gospel music industry at several labels. What motivated her return was a music video of a song David Jr. and his friends wrote, produced and shot in one day in honor of his father four days after his death. “My husband loved music and he loved to DJ. That’s where Jr. gets it from. I was blown away by the song. I thought these kids have something here but my mind was not there. I was in the midst of planning a funeral.”
The song, “Private House Party”, was inspired by David’s old crew named Private House Posse. “I started a label to protect these boys from the industry. No one can take advantage of my son. I created the label to teach them everything about the industry from the business end to the performing part.” They’ve built a following performing in New York, Georgia and Florida. “I no longer worry about our finances. Between David, Daniel and I, we take assignment with our skill sets and within the music industry that helps financially. We don’t think about money. We live our life following our passions, walking in our purpose and being a blessing to people we encounter.”
On top of studying for a PhD, running a label, taking care of five kids, gardening, Rosalind has also found time to reach out to other widows in need of support. “Since my husband passed, I’ve somehow become a resource and a counselor for new and young widows. I stay in touch with and encourage over ten young widows.” Rosalind and her children host dinners for the widows and their families. She spends time with the wives and her children entertain the kids. “It’s ministry for me. I believe every grieving family needs someone they can call on when they’re having a tough time coping.”
Helping others has become a coping mechanism to get Rosalind through her own challenging times. In addition to helping widows through the mourning process, Rosalind has found that being present the initial moment in which widows learn of the death of a loved one has also played an instrumental role in her spiritual journey. “I became the chaplain we were waiting for at the hospital when my husband died.” For the past two years, Rosalind has been working at the same hospital where her husband passed away. While she chose not to see her husband’s deceased body, she often sits with families for hours as they say goodbye to their loved ones.
“As a chaplain I’m more of a presence. I’m not gonna say everything is ok, because it’s not, your loved one is gone and not coming back. What I am here to do is hold your hand while you cry, talk or do whatever you need to. It’s very fulfilling that I get to be here for someone else.”
Because of her new spiritual beliefs, Rosalind says she has joy in her heart when she is working as a chaplain. “I believe there is life after death, so this isn’t the end. I try to share that energy with them. I need to be a chaplain. It’s hard to explain but I need this just as much as them.”
She wishes David was here to experience their children growth and that witness David’s budding music career and acceptance into Morehouse, Daniel graduating from High School and attending University of West Georgia in the fall to study Mass communications, Darius starting High School, Alayanah (who was three when her father passed) graduate from being homeschooled to entering a private virtual schoolers program and their fifth child Amaya growing into a funny and loving little girl.
“I don’t dwell on if only he could see us because I believe he can. That’s what keep me from reverting back to the mourning process. We speak of him in the presence tense. He is still with us.”
Rosalind is in the process of penning a book about her family. She’s on chapter 10. “It has help shed light on what life is really about. We often get stuck in the details. Life is a journey meant to be traveled.”