Love From Keisha’s Cousins

These essays were written by Keisha’s cousins. Losing Keisha deeply affected all of them, personally and as a family. They share memories of Keisha and the difference she has made in their lives.

Brandi was just 9 years old when Keisha passed away. Later, at age 18, she reflects on her memories of the cousin she looked up to and loved so much.

With Love for Keisha

Brandi Weslow
May 16, 2016

Keisha and Brandi-SmEvery single memory I have of Keisha is amazing. She was one of the kindest people I knew growing up. I looked up to her, thinking I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. We were a lot closer than most cousins were, even with the age difference. A memory that I remember vividly to this day and will always remember was our special day. A day where it was just us, she took me shopping and out to eat. Keisha always went out of her way to make everyone happy. She had just started college knowing I was going through a really hard time with my parents divorce. I was being shipped around home to home. So she took me shopping where I got a necklace with a “B” on it for Brandi. Then after we went out to eat at Applebee’s. We even got dessert which was mine and Keisha’s favorite. She talked to me about what was going on in my life, trying to help me make sense of it all. On my way home I remember I was feeling better and not so sad and couldn’t wait to see her again.

I’ll never forget the day I found out that Keisha passed away. I was at my dad’s house and he told me that I would be going with my mom later. That day when I got in the car. My mom was in there with my grandma, sister and cousin Jamie; Keisha’s sister. They were all looking at me- from that moment I knew something was wrong. The tone of my mom’s voice was shaky and everyone looked like they had been crying. My mom just looked at me and said “Brandi something happened… Keisha got in a car accident” I just looked at everyone and asked “is she okay?” Then my mom said “Yes…. she is in heaven.” I was in utter shock, all I said was “what?” Then everyone started crying. We were driving to my Aunt Linda’s house. She was sitting on the floor next to her bed. When I walked in there, all I could do was hug her.
Our family changed after she was gone too. We were once a super close family, who did everything together. To a family who was broken. I remember growing up, I was angry for what happened. Never understanding why someone so young, pretty and nice would be taken away from us. I refused to go to church for months after this happened. Blaming God for taking her away. I don’t think anyone realized how much Keisha’s passing had affected me. When you are only 9 years death does not make sense. You are old enough to know what is happening, but too young to understand it. Everyone else around you is grieving and I was left with so many unanswered questions. I had just seen Keisha a month ago when she took me out to eat and shopping. She knew how hard my parents divorce was on me. It was an effort no one else had made to be there for me.

Keisha was taken away from me way too soon. I never realized how young she actually was when she passed away, until the day I turned 18. All I could think about was “this is how old keisha was when she died.” At 18 your life is just starting. Finishing high school going on to the next chapter of life. It is an exciting time with so much to look forward to. I never understood why this happened until I got older. Then had a better understanding of why things happened. I started to change my perspective on life. Becoming closer to God, realizing he has a plan and a reason for everything he does. Everything that happens to us in our lives is a part of his plan. I started to put others before myself like Keisha did. Living my life with purpose and meaning. Make my mark on the world. I go out of my way to help others and lift them up just like Keisha did that one day she took me on our special day. God truly does turn tragedy into triumph. I have had days where I know Keisha is sending me signs to show me she is still here and guiding me down the path that I am suppose to be on. I really don’t think I would be who I am today if we would have never done that together. So I am forever thankful to have had the time with her that I did.

 

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Derek was just a young boy when Keisha passed away, but the bond they shared together had a profound affect on who he was and who he is today, both in his personal and professional life.

A Pink Light That Never Fades

Derek Brandon
2016

Keisha and DerekWherever Keisha was, the sun shined a bit brighter, the sky was a bit bluer, and people’s faces were a bit happier. She could walk into a gloomy room and electrify it back to life. There was more love, compassion and happiness in her than everyone combined. I was lucky enough to experience this radiation she gave off in my short nine years of knowing her.

I was a very shy kid. I couldn’t enter school or a playground without crying. No one wanted to talk to me and I didn’t want to talk to them. Socializing wasn’t my strong suit. I had walls built up on all sides with no intention of altering them. One of the only people that could break down these barriers was Keisha. She babysat me quite a bit and in that time she not only broke these walls for me, she helped me climb out of the rubble and I’ve been climbing ever since. We would reach for the stars. We would color pictures of what we dared to dream of. There were no limits. We drew with our favorite colors; red for me, pink for her. I opened up and developed my true passion for acting. I was no longer shy, far from it, outgoing some might say. She was the model; I was the actor. She truly was my best friend, my partner in crime.

One of my more vivid memories was in California. There was a stretch of paradise known as Laguna Beach. This was one of Keisha’s favorite places. She helped me climb up onto this jutted out rock. We could see for miles. Words cannot describe the view or the moment. She strutted down the rock as if it was her runway. I followed suit and put on a show for everyone below. This was one of our many stages to come. The world became out stage with no sign of interruption.

I continued to grow up and see how persistent she was in her craft. She was very successful and what amazed me was how she still stayed true to herself. She didn’t let the business define her. Especially in this industry, there is so much corruption that plagues those who start young. Keisha did just the opposite. She cleansed it with her positivity and charisma. I would love to see how different the industry was if she was still there today. We all would.

Once I lost my co-star, I knew the curtain couldn’t come down. I couldn’t hear the audience give their last applause. I couldn’t see the pink roses fill the stage. I couldn’t watch us give our last bow. We stole the show. I couldn’t let that end. I had dreams to carry on my shoulders now. Two unstoppable passions. This is why I am where I am today. Eighteen films down, endless amounts to go. I’m proud to say that I am fulfilling dreams with zero boundaries.

Every now and then, my family and I visit Laguna Beach. I go and climb the rock. Sit on our stage and look out at our world. The sun may not shine as bright. Clouds may trickle across the blue sky. People’s faces may seem a bit more somber. But stretched across the horizon is a pink light that will never fade.

 

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Emily MacDonald, Keisha’s cousin and best friend, wrote this shortly after Keisha’s death. Emily was 2 months older than Keisha and will be getting married in 6 months. Another milestone in the MacDonald family that Keisha is not here to share.

Dare to Dream

Emily MacDonald
15 March 2007

Keisha and Emily 2Thinking back to every Saturday when I was a little girl, playing dress-up at Grandma’s house was my favorite thing to do. My cousin and I would put on costumes, wigs, and makeup; trying to look like the supermodels we saw in the recent Teen-Bop magazines. Taking turns, we would walk up and down the hallway that was our make-shift runway. My cousin was always a more stylish walker than I was. She would repeatedly give me tips on how to playfully throw a pillow or end the walk with a believable wink. At Grandma’s house, we were superstars! My favorite cousin, who happens to be my best friend, is next to me in almost every one of my childhood memories, all of which I will never forget.

Ten years later, where dress-up clothes and play have been replaced with studying and books, I found myself driving home on a foggy morning with my sister sitting next to me. It was four in the morning, thirty minutes past the phone call from my mother that woke me in the night. Something was wrong, something was very wrong and she wanted us home immediately. My soul was praying that the situation wasn’t too serious and that everyone was alright.

We finally pulled into our dark driveway and my sister and I walked hand in hand to the front door. Facing my parents in the kitchen came with a foreign feeling that I didn’t like. Seeing the tear stains on my dad’s face and my mom just sitting there staring into space, my sister took a seat at the table and I followed her actions. Within one minute of my dad opening his dry mouth, my life began to turn 180 degrees. The terrible words that my dad spoke informed us that our close cousin had been tragically killed. In one minute her life was gone and my family would never be the same.

Keisha Michelle MacDonald was a beautiful woman who was taken away from this earth late on February 20th of 2007. A fatal car accident with an eighteen wheeler cut her life short. Keisha was 18 years old and enjoyed life to the fullest. She was following her dream to pursue modeling, all while attending college at Lansing Community College. I got to grow up right next to Keisha and more memories still come to me every day. We started and graduated school right next to each other. We were not only cousins but promised to be best friends forever. Keisha’s death has not only impacted my family and me, but many other people in the United States. A Facebook group, a place where students and friends can keep in touch with each other, has 681 members in the group titled “In Loving Memory of Keisha Michelle MacDonald”, and this group grows every day. Myspace, an internet site designed for people to chat and send messages, also hosts a site named “R.I.P. Keisha MacDonald” being shared with 177 members, continually increasing each day. Keisha was an inspiration to many friends, family, peers, and children.

Keisha and Emily 3One huge quality that still stands out about Keisha is the way she followed her dreams. Not scared of failure, she took off with her dream to be a model and sailed. Keisha started modeling in middle school and her career was just taking off when the accident occurred. Upon learning of Keisha’s death, her agent immediately sent word of the results from the last runway show she was in earlier that week in Detroit. The phone call informed the family that Keisha had been discovered. She was wanted at four major modeling agencies; two of which sent a contract including photo shoots in Asia. The smallest salary offered for a year’s work was over six figures. Keisha was going to be a star, but her life was too short for her to realize it.

Following a dream is a hard concept to understand and accomplish. Being able to follow a dream includes bravery, attitude, and confidence. Everyone is born with these qualities, but people rarely take advantage of them. Being able to achieve a life-long goal is an accomplishment that people are seldom rewarded with, but it is one of the details in life that is easy to accomplish with the right attitude. Once a goal is reached, a hero is identified as someone who never gave up, tried with all their heart, and always believed that their dream was in reach. A hero lies somewhere in everyone.

Keisha(sm)The first step to achieving a goal is daring to dream. Keisha decided early that she wanted to be a world known model, and little was going to get in her way. A dream must be identified and chased after with no barriers. Many people claim that they don’t have a dream, or are too old to accomplish their goal. William Arthur Ward, an American author, teacher, and pastor does not agree. Ward is often quoted from many inspirational poems written. He states, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.” (Ward Quotes). This quote is completely true, and is reassuring that dreams are only an arms-length away. Thinking back to adolescent years usually brings back vivid dreams that were thought to be unreachable. Now picturing the dream, it might not seem that far out of range.

What is your dream? Is your dream to be sitting in this conference room reading this essay? Or is your dream to solve the mystery to cure cancer? Is your dream to be an astronaut and see the earth from a view that only God himself claims to see? My dream is to be a singer/songwriter. Although, I have doubted myself my entire life, Keisha’s memory pushes me to try. Knowing that I live in Michigan, that I’m already 18 years old, and that the money needed for an occupation of a performer is not at my fingertips; those are my doubts. Believing that God put me on this earth with a purpose to please others, being blessed with a harmonic voice, and knowing that if Keisha could chase her dream makes me believe I can too; these are my determinations of completion. Believing in yourself will begin the dream, and belief will also capture and conclude the dream being chased.

On that tragic day when I found out my best friend wasn’t ever coming back, I began to look at life in a completely different manner. I am done doubting myself, I’m done giving up, and I will always believe. My dream is in reach and it is truly sad that I never realized it until the death of someone I truly loved. Keisha taught me to be brave, and she taught me that I could hold life in my hands if I knew where to start. My cousin is gone, but she will always be in my heart and my biggest fan in life. Keisha has inspired me to step into the world and dare to dream.