What Death Has Taught Me.

Yesterday my beloved cousin was laid to rest. He died to early before he could make a major impact on the world. A beautiful gentle soul that towered over everyone at six foot seven inches. He was a gentle giant of sorts. Waging war on the world with a kind spirit and a compassionate sword. He was handsome, educated, well loved, charismatic,caring and far to kind. He had a great basketball career in college. My cousin Kendrick was a star basketball player who earned a scholarship to the University of Michigan then returned home to Boston to help other youth like himself in Dorchester where I grew up. He was widely known for the nonprofit organization he founded and ran, Big Business Network, which taught inner-city youngsters the basics of basketball and business. He graduated from Buckingham Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge and played basketball on a Big Ten scholarship while managing to also earn his bachelor’s degree in just three years. He went on to become a financial analyst. his year, Price started a job at Cristo Rey Boston High School where he was an account manager in the school’s corporate work study program, which gives students work experience. He started that job fewer than two weeks before he was killed.He was also a basketball coach at Brooke High School charter school.

My cousin wasn’t a saint . No one clearly is. He was so perfectly imperfect just like all of us are. It is not my position to talk ill about the dead nor is it cool to me to talk about the demons he carried. I will stick to speaking about the beautiful soul he was while he was here for the short time that he was. My cousin got shot and murdered last weekend on the very street we grew up on together. A couple of house down from were he called home. I can’t imagine what my auntie is going through right now but I imagine is is unconscionable and unfathomable. Not only is her stellar baby boy dead. He died on the same street he grew up on. Every time she walks outside she will have a constant reminder of his death, She will forever have nightmares of seeing his motionless body lying there dead in the snow as the white snow turned crimson red from the blood that was seeping out of his head. I too have a stellar young man. who works two jobs, goes to school, helps his community and who is brave, kind caring and compassionate to his fellow man. My heart breaks every time he walks out my door. I dare not to imagine how it would feel to never see him walk back in my door again. This is were it get hairy for me as a human being. I was told another one of my cousins was there at the time of the shooting. This cousin is not what you call a stand up kind of guy. He has an extensive criminal history. He is much like a street kind of person that was frown down upon by my family secretly because of his actions. No, he never completed High school or entered into college. He never got a athletic scholarship to go to a great college like my cousin did. He never started up a business, helped the community or did anything remotely positive as my cousin did. He was simply known for his temper, criminal back ground, narcotic selling and having a lot of kids.

These are to different human beings that choose two different life paths but they alone merged as one. They loved each other. They didn’t see anything different in between them but love and blood. They were thick as thieves and everyone knew they were inseparable. Two peas in a pod the like untouchable. They didn’t see the difference between them like the world saw. That is where I think true love lies. They loved each other heart and soul and not for what degrees they had, what their economic status was or who had a criminal history or lack there of. After the death of my cousin the pressure cooker exploded and the shrapnel sent daggers of ice picks through the heart of my family members. They all of a sudden became divided at a time when they should have came together in unison .The blame game began fast and furious resembling a high speed train. I tried to call and give my condolence and the only person that spoke to me was my grandmother. So I left my number so other family members could call me but one week later and a day after he was laid to rest; I still have yet to receive a call. The funky thing about that was I was the last to hear that he past away. I learned of his passing on Facebook from my cousin Tina who said : you clearly must not know what’s gong on”. Man, that hurt my heart something terrible. Once again The black sheep is not included in something as important as a death in the family. Moving on; as I read the news, watched the videos and kept up with everything online( Because no one was keeping me abreast of anything) the wind begins to swirl and the movement in my family began drastically change. They beyond livid that he past away more and more as it settled in. I could read it on my Facebook. The lines on my feed read: “He was such a good person” ” He was a gentle Giant” ” He was going to make a difference and change the world” Then came the whammy of questions. “Why did it have to happen to him”? Became the question on everyone’s lips. Then the swirl of wind became a hurricane of sorts. My Auntie and other family members I believe were speaking out of grief ( I hope) When They told my cousin who was there that night that it should have been him and his wife that should have took the bullets. In Layamon’s terms ; They told him they wished he had died instead of my cousin Omg, beloveds, When the news got back to me in Florida that this was said. I was baffled, bewildered, heart broken and frankly appalled .

Who in there right mind would say that to another human being. Grief should not be an excuse to me but I don’t really know. They were inseparable. They loved each other. They were like best friends. What would he have thought if he heard his mother say such a thing? My cousin that lived is forever torn up and tore apart from witnessing the act first hand. He was there. He saw the blood . He watched him died in front of his eyes. He already felt remorseful, anger and like it’s his fault for being there at the party with him. It is him who will wake up from cold sweats from a reoccurring never ending nightmare. He will have PTSD and flash backs of that eventful and tragic night because before that they were having a great time until that happen. Damn, wasn’t that a lasting pain enough for him to carry the rest of is life? I guess not. As he walked into the Funeral home looking for a seat My Auntie went full throttle ballistic. As her words of anger and hate began to spew like venom from her once sweet and innocent mouth everything change. She saw my cousin and rage filled her eyes and she called the cops to escort him out of there. She made a big spectacle. Maybe she had the right to after all that was her only baby son. Maybe she had the right to because the pain was too much to bear. Maybe she started to believe her own words that she heard in her head over and over again. It’s should not have been my son! It should have been you! He left hurt, embarrassed, ashamed and left unable to say his final good byes . While at the same time she placed a nail in the coffin of another family member who is essential dead in her eyes now. Not only is one of my cousins physically dead another cousin who loved him too in life is mentally dead to her and the other family member who feel the same way as she does.

Death to me has been such an interesting teacher to me. I never got my first brush with death until I was in my forties when my mother passed away suddenly and then again eighteen month later when my father died. Both of those were experiences that left me breathless and bewildered. I remember vividly when I got the call that my mother was in the hospital. I was at home with my children. I was preparing for my son’s championship football game. My estranged sister to whom I do not talk to at all called me and told me what was going on. When she called she said ” mom is not doing good” ” Would you like to speak to her”? When I replied yes she said ” Oh she is in a coma ” What the hell? Then why ask me if I wanted to speak to her” I was lost. She said she would call me with any News. The day of the game while my son is running down the field trying to tackle the opposing team player. My phone starts to ring. I answer it nervously and I got the call I knew was coming ” She’s dead” .Omg. I was still. I couldn’t move,breath or cry. I was screaming inside but screaming outside at my kid as he made the tackles of all tackles. I had to keep a brave face. Show no sadness. Act like I never received that call. I stayed that way until I got home. That’s when all the calls started flooding my phone. Call after call from people I never met before, from my siblings who have never met my kids or talk to me in decades. From aunties and uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews. They all came out of the wood work. I took these calls As I took the similar calls I received when my dad died eighteen months later. The thing that got me in both situations was that They both died at a time that I was unable to move quickly . As single parent I need time to make arrangements for both of my kids. When my dad died. He died on the kids first day of school so I was unable leave just like that. When I asked the father and his family to watched them so I could leave they denied my request. So;to make along story short I was not able to be present to lay my parents to rest.

I missed the opportunity to say my final good byes. No asked to help me get there or offer me away to get there knowing me situation. I am the underdog, the sheep and the out cast in my family just like my cousin I was talking about. I am the one that had babies out of wed locking . The sister that didn’t finish college like my older sister. I am the one that made poor life choices when I was younger and the same one who will be made to relive them time and time again. I will never live down my youthful mistakes in their eyes. So when my parents died the well to do sibling took over every aspect of their funeral details. I was not included. They made all of the arrangements, invited all the guest and secured all the churches and banquet hall without me in mind. They held the Viewing, funerals and repasses without me. I was not mailed an obituary or anything that regarded my parents. I do not know where they scattered half of my mothers ashes nor was I special enough to get a locket with some of her ashes like the rest of my sibling. I do not know where my dad is laid to rest or what cemetery or plot number he is in because I was the bad sister. That felt so horrible to know that the two people who brought me into this world were dead now and I never had a chance to say good bye. They were not the best parent to me by along shot but that is for another blog time. The craziest part of it all was after they died.

All of a sudden people wanted to start telling me personal information about my parents. Things that clearly wasn’t my business. Who did what, when they did what and with who. Who did illegal drugs, who slept around and the real reason why my mom left me behind as a toddler. The man my mom left my dad for, who he was and how much younger her was then her. ( I mean who really cares)? Not me!! They where talking so bad about them that I had to say” Hold up not my fight, not my business” they continued to poke an prod. Ask me what I knew and If I new this or that? Then came the money issues. Who had life insurance and how much. Who get’s it and who doesn’t. My mother didn’t raise me my father did. I met my mother when I was ten or eleven. Out of all four kids she had;she only raised one and that was my baby brother. Who mind you I’ve only met three times in my life. He was emotionally zoned out. He was all she knew and all he had. She did everything for him up until she passed. When she passed away she left him behind like a little stray puppy. He didn’t know how to cook, clean, drive pay bills nothing. It was really sad to me. All I could do was reach out to him. In the mist of all the craziness there he sat like a lost puppy. This one want to sue the hospital for this. This one was fighting over that. It was a free for all party of pure Bull shit. In the end The calls slowly started to recede. The stories started to dissipate and the calls stopped all together. No longer did I here from my two older sisters again. No longer did I hear from my older brother again. There went the calls from all the people I never met in my life. It went back to normal. Are dysfunctional normal. All that was left was all the damn stories about my parent that I sure they never wanted me to hear. I was once again back where I belong in the ” no lane ” zone. I was not fit to call or check on. There was no more interest in my children’ well being. I was back where I started before they died. In Tallahassee, Florida living alone with my two kids with no outside help, family support from my side or the fathers side. Left hanging like the last ornament on the Christmas tree that they forgot was there and tossed out with the Christmas tree on the side of the curb.

For a brief moment. Yes I felt connected and loved. Just for a second I thought that someone actually cared about me and my family. Just for a second I anticipated the calls from unfamiliar voices. Just for a flash I felt like I finally belonged. That I was finally acceptable to them. Acceptable enough to get a call at least and a ” I Love” you at the end of the call. I hung on to my sister’s voice because I knew once he was in the ground I would no longer hear from her. I wanted to believe in magic, in miracles and rainbows. Then I stood up and shook that shit off as soon as it came is as soon as I let it go. I have a great gift of shifting my pain and hurt in to file cabinets inside my mind and I don’t return to them unless I need to. Thank god for that. I am sad that I was not there to lay them to rest.I am sad I do not know where my fathers body rest. I am sad to even think that not one person has even told me but such is the life is the life I lead as the outsider that can never fit in or get in. This whole thing with my cousin struck a nerve because we are so much alike but different. We choose different paths in life that was frown upon by are family members. While he choose a life of drug dealing and crime. I choose to be an unwed mother at 26 with no degree under my belt. Yes I was the whimsical child. The hard headed child, the rebellious child but I was also the molested child. Physically, emotionally and verbally abused child too. I acted out for reasons. I was a child and that is what children do when they are faced with adversity so young that they don’t know how to process it or how to handle. In the end I clearly made some bad choices in my life as a young adult that had nothing to do with my family.

Nevertheless me and my cousin are both human beings. we deserved to be loved and feel love. We deserve to feel like we are apart of are family. We deserved to feel like we belong. There was no need to keep my cousin from saying his final good byes to my dearly beloved cousin . Damn he loved him just as much as I did. Maybe even more. It’s not fair to say who’s life is more valuable than the other. No one should ever say to someone” It should have been you that died instead of my son.” or ” His life has more meaning then yours because you choose the street life and he didn’t” That is insensitive to say and even more horrible to say out loud to another soul. I am sorry that I am the wayward sibling to my family members but I deserved to lay my parents to rest . I deserved to say my good byes even if you didn’t think I was not worthy or educated enough to say it. We are all human beings, Doing the best that we can on this road called life. No one is perfect and no one is going ever be! Life doesn’t come with a set of instructions. It is a learn as we go type venture. No matter how someone feels about a person in their family it should never override Death when he knocks on your door. I wish that family members acted more like family members instead of like a Mob family. Where they off each other once they are no longer useful or deemed important to the families dynamics anymore. My poor cousin will forever remember the night he lost my cousin. He will forever have those images in his head. He will forever hear those hateful word rambling in his subconscious ” It should have been you that died that night instead of my son”. He will forever remember walking into the church to say his good byes and the cops stopped him short and escorted him out. What will become of him now that he is essential mentally dead to certain family member? Who will he become now ? How will he view his worth and will he too wish it was him that died that night?

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