This past year has been one for the books and not necessarily in a good way. The end of the decade well into 2020 has been something to say the least. It’s hard, to sum up, the past year but I’ll try anyway. Plainly put I’m tired of death and I’m exhausted of grieving. Last year, I lost one of my good friends from college. I got the dreadful call from his mother while I was away training for work. When my phone rang and I saw her contact pop up deep down inside I knew. I was hoping it wasn’t what I ultimately knew it was to the point I almost didn’t answer the phone. She delivered the news I had been dreading for a while. He had been trying to prepare me for his departure for some time now but I didn’t want to think that way. I tried to speak positivity over his illness and I prayed for him constantly. I couldn’t fathom him not being here physically but he knew better than I did. I guess in hindsight I was really trying to be strong for me more than him. He was already strong and had been brave his whole life. I went numb. I really believed that he would live well past the doctor’s expectancy. That he would grow old with me and we would still crack jokes on one another and that he would still be around to irk my last nerves but he was gone and that was something I never knew I wouldn’t be able to come to terms with.
This week will make a year since I’ve lost my dear friend and I have yet to grieve him. I believe it’s mostly because I have not fully accepted his departure. I still have his number saved in my phone’s top favorites. I can’t bring myself to remove it. There are so many things I want to be able to call and tell him or shoot him a quick text about. I feel like once his contact and picture is deleted it’ll all be too real and I’m just not ready for that. I sometimes go through our text messages, emails, videos and pictures from throughout the years and smile. I crack up at our jokes and I can still see his smile and hear that laugh of his so clearly as if he’s right here with me. His laugh and face is forever engrained in my memory. Often, when I am missing him I close my eyes just to see his face and hear the melody of his laughter. He had a laugh like no other. We always mocked each others accents him being from New Orleans and myself from New Jersey. He tried to mask that New Orleans accent at times but it usually slipped out anyways and I loved to hear it.
We created so many great memories together and I hold each memory near and dear to my heart. He use to call me some nights and say, “let’s go for a drive, I’ll be there in 10 minutes” and I’d throw on something and we’d drive around the streets of Orlando and the surrounding area for hours, sometimes talking, others listening to music or both. Our favorite album at the time was Jay Z and Kanye West’s album, Watch The Throne. On bright, sunny afternoons we would have the radio blasting, the air turned up and we would rap at the top of our lungs going back and forth as if we were the duo smiling ear to ear, hands waving around and then have an encore. We would go to parks and do photoshoots waiting for golden hour to hit. Check out different spots to eat on our college survival budgets, he even taught me how to eat with chopsticks. When I didn’t have it, he treated me and vice versa. We’d hit up the malls and we would even cook for each other at our places. We spent a lot of time together. We use to just crash at his spot and watch Wayne’s Brothers for the millionth time reciting all the lines and cracking up until we were on the floor in tears. I could go on forever but he was my Florida bestie, as I affectionately called him. I had other names for him as well but that was the only one he accepted probably because he came up with it but that doesn’t make it any less true.
The news of my friend’s death came about a week before the unexpected death of Nipsey Hussle and we all know the immense impact his death has had on the world. Most recently, the helicopter crash that claimed the life of 9 including basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter GiGi. When tragic events such as these happen I connect to them on another level. Like many, I usually have to pull myself off of social media for a while because emotionally and spiritually I just can’t take it. The devastating effects these type of instances cause are too much for me to bear. My mind tends to become consumed by these type of unfortunate circumstances in an unhealthy way. I recently dreamt about Kobe and I was in all these different places and no matter where I was or what I was doing I would just break down crying, I mean uncontrollable sobbing in tears at the thought of his name and the tragic event that claimed his life and all those involved. For me, that is an intense amount of connection and grief and my heart and prayers continue to go out to their loved ones.
My friend transitioned and I have not grieved that way for him. Someone I love. Someone I actually know. Someone I miss to the point it’s unfathomable. I have experienced much heart-wrenching death thus far in my life and I have grieved many times over but this time I don’t recognize my own grief. I understand that death is the experience of life’s cycle but I am exhausted. This is nothing like I’ve ever experienced. I know people grieve differently and in their own time but I have never processed my grief in this way and at times for some reason, I feel guilty about it. He was one of the very best friends I’ve ever had in my entire life. I miss him more than I could ever begin to relay. One of the best men I have ever had the privilege of knowing and nothing or anyone will ever be able to fill the void of his loss. I am so grateful to have had him for the time God allowed. I do believe writing this is my grief or at least a part of my grieving process. After all, I haven’t spoken much about him since his passing. I don’t know the direction in which this particular part of my journey will lead but I believe that this is the gateway to my healing and in the words of Lauren London, “you better love the people God loaned you because he’s going to want them back one day.”