Between 2003 and 2005 there were four deaths that changed the course of my entire life forever. First came the guy I went on my first date with, I was 15 and instead of going to my sophomore semi formal, we ended up going to Jimmy’s Bronx Cafe. He borrowed his big brother’s car and we left our suburban town and made our way into the Bronx. I was wearing my semi formal dress because as far as my mom was concerned, that’s where I was going. But he taught me what it was like to be on a date and we stayed really close for many years…right up until his passing. Three weeks after him, my very good friend from college was shot and killed when a stray bullet struck him in the spine. That following April a young lady who I didn’t really know went missing but she was my age and her family life was like mine and I ended up becoming really close to her mom, so by the time they found her…her body….it felt devastating. Lastly, my cousin was killed by a drunk driver, who also killed all 4 people in his car and my cousin’s cousin as well. Talk about dark times.
As a result, those losses made me extremely paranoid for my people and to this day I realize I’m still a little scared. I turn my phone off every night without fail because the news of death is always delivered during the witching hours, when I can’t do shit with the news being shared with me AND I lose sleep, my senses and I can’t catch my bearings. I don’t like that. I really dislike that. So when my childhood best friend was killed in a car crash a year after I put my phone turning off rule in place, I was better prepared mentally. I didn’t take a 2 AM phone call, but I got the call after I was awake, alert and kinda on my own terms. I get scared when I don’t hear from people after they were supposed to be home. It’s not like I know for sure they will be okay but I also know better than to put scared vibes into the universe. But it does freak me out because of the sheer volume of loss in the most unfortunate circumstances in my short life. I always ask the universe to keep all of my people safe but I know that when time is up, then time is up but that doesn’t make it any less terrifying.
The thing about death is the finality of the whole thing. The earthly ending is very difficult. There really is no end to how much you actually miss someone and how much it hurts. I think of my friend, my first date and I can still see his handsome face, I can feel his touch, I remember our conversations and the hardest part is remembering that we weren’t good when he died. We had fallen out and we didn’t really talk for a while and hearing he died changed me. I knew in that moment that I couldn’t ever really allow disagreements to come in between my friend and I. Friends can disagree but I think there also needs to be room to come to a resolution BECAUSE death is final and it hurts so much when there are unspoken words of love, joy, and appreciation. I don’t want anyone I know to die without knowing that they were loved, appreciated and impacted my life for the better. It hurt so much to know that someone so important to me died without knowing how much I loved him and appreciated his friendship. My best friend knew. He knew how much he was loved and that gives me some solace but I miss him. I miss him on days like this because he was my daughter’s godfather and he loved her so much and cared for her and poured so much love into her. He died before he got to see her as a person. I am sad she will never get to experience him and all the love he had for her. It hurts.
Birthdays are a special day. I believe that at any age people should be celebrated and shown how much they are loved. The love should flow daily but I think birthdays are a time for the showering of appreciation and love for the person. It’s hard when these birthdays of lost loved ones roll around because we cannot really celebrate them in a way that we would like and that’s tough. I think out of my irrational fears is the need to pour so much love into the ones who are here and alive right now. Birthdays are a big deal. And some going overboard is necessary because people deserve to reflect on their lives and smile when they are trying to recall the good in their lives. I say all this to say, that I’ve learned to appreciate the living way more because of the deaths I’ve experienced in my life and I take my friends’ happiness very seriously. I would like everyone to be whole and in one piece for as long as the universe will allow. Until then, I’ll celebrate and love my people hard and do my best to focus on their life and not be scared of their deaths.