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Being Aware of Breast Cancer

One is never fully aware of cancer until it affects someone they know personally. We all know someone who has been affected by it. However, it just doesn’t hit home until that one person you knew one way begins to slow down, goes bald from chemo, fingers get dark from neuropathy, has scars from surgery, and gradually become a shell of the person you once knew before the end in many cases.

July 2011: I am living in Buffalo taking care of my family as my wife Timile is undergoing chemotherapy treatments. She was diagnosed as stage four February 23, 2011; nine days after our daughter Cydney was born. It had been a rough time; but we were making it and Timile was actually beginning to do better. Her cancer which metastasized all over her body had been localized to just being the tumor in her lower esophagus. Things were starting to look up.

One evening I got a phone call. It was my father. I don’t remember his exact words because they don’t matter. He told me that my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and she didn’t want to tell me. In spite of what she had just heard she was still trying to be my mother by not giving me anymore bad news at a really hard time.

Fuck….

Within five months I became a father, the love of my life is diagnosed with terminal cancer, and so is my mother. That’s a lot for anyone to handle. At twenty-five years old I was barely a man myself and was virtually forced to become someone thirty years older than I really was. There was to time to process things of grieve. I had to keep it moving.

I remember being in the car driving somewhere with Timile and Cydney when my father called. I told Timile right away and I could see her feeling really bad and as much as possible trying to be there for me. She suggested that almost right away we should drive down to New York to see her.

Sometime in August I recall being on the phone with my mother. She was just venting to me about how she felt. She didn’t want to do surgery. The idea of possibly having a mastectomy was devastating. In theory, I understood because to her it meant losing part of what makes her a woman. We talked for a while; well she talked and I listened. By the end of the conversation I said to her something like “Look, I understand. Be thankful that surgery is an option. What I wouldn’t trade for surgery to be an option.” She was silent. It was one of those moments when I had really felt life was about to be different. Keeping it real with my mother based on my own experience was one of those moments that made me realize I was a grown-ass man.

Moving back to New York shortly before Timile died was hard. It was difficult to relive what I just went through immediately after Timile succumbed all while fighting to get my daughter back. The silver lining was that all that I had been through made things a little easier for her. If she needed to talk to someone I understood and could tell her about the process. When something new came up I was able to relate as much as humanly possible.

As I had said before, my mother was still trying to be my mom by looking out for my mental well-being. I may have driven her to surgeries; but she knew I couldn’t really visit her in the hospital. I just couldn’t do it.

My mother didn’t want me to take her to chemo, either. That was probably the most emotionally experience for me. It was May 3, 2013 and I had just met a girl about two weeks earlier. We were going out on our second date within three days and something inside of me felt like she was someone special. My mother knew that this was a big deal and offered to watch Cydney after she had chemo. She was adamant about me not taking her. Her plans had fallen through and I had to do it. Watching her get hooked up, her metaport being flushed, and sitting in that chair that I had done every two weeks for six months two years prior was hard.

While I was in the present moment with my mother I had flashbacks of sitting with Timile. I laughed and joked with her through it. The moment had felt like life was coming full-circle. Here I was sitting with my mother undergoing a process that reminded me of how I lost my partner…in order to begin the process of my own healing and moving on. It was as if God was giving me a mental and emotional cup-check before I got back in the game. By all means it was mentally, emotionally, and spiritually taxing. But through the whole experience I mostly thought about how excited I was to see the girl in a few hours thinking she must be some kinda special for me to go through this…

It is October 7, 2014 and my mother is cancer free and is celebrating another birthday. It’s her first birthday without her mother and I’m sure that is on her mind. But I know one of the reasons that her mother stayed around as long as she did was that she wasn’t leaving earth until her oldest daughter was out of the woods. That’s what mothers do.

Because my mother is going through her own personal struggles she can’t and isn’t always available; but I know in her own way she is doing the same for me. I may not be a mother but as a parent this experience may have been one of the most valuable lessons I have ever learned from her. The other day my mother told me out of nowhere that God doesn’t give people what they can’t handle and that this road that He made for me was because I could handle it. My daughter by all means is a firecracker and handling her under such circumstances means God must think pretty highly of me.

Happy Birthday, Mom.

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The Adjustment Process

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Last Friday I came home to Cydney pretending to be a cat and she laid in my lap.

My second week at my new job is coming to an end. My body is already used to twenty hour days with four hours of rest; however there’s an adjustment period anytime there’s a drastic change to one’s lifestyle.

The biggest adjustment in my life is Cydney. I wake up around 5:30 am, pretend I’m going to work out (read: lay in bed until 6:05), and I’m out the door by 6:45. Coming into Manhattan from Long Island I try to beat the morning rush. This means I’m out the door before Cydney wakes up. I get off of work at 6 pm and my train back home leaves at 6:45. I get home around 7:45 pm and my little girl is too happy to see me. Being that it’s summer she is awake for a few hours. By September when I get home it will be almost bedtime.

I’m super excited to see Cydney when I get home. She wants me to drop everything and just focus my attention on her. I’m tired. I help my mother out who has been watching grandkids all day and try to make sure she eats, do dishes, get her clothes ready for the next day, bathe her, and try to get her into bed.

Bedtime has almost always been stressful with Cydney. She fights sleep by crying up a storm in my ear. This has been multiplied by thirty since she’s been going through the “I don’t have a mom phase” and another twelve since I haven’t been home.  She passes out around midnight. I’ll still have writing to do and will get to sleep around 1:30 am.

I got home late last night because after work I had a meeting about putting together a book and then a work event to show my face at. I left early and got home by 11 pm hoping to see my baby for a minute before she fell asleep. In my travels I saw a man holding the hand of a little Spanish girl who was about five years old and I smiled thinking about how that would be us next year. That made me excited about getting home. When I got home Cydney jumped out of my mother’s bed and said she was staying with me. As we laid in the bed she said “You have to go to work to make a lot of money for me?” I replied “Yep!” She smiled, showed me her painting she made at school and fell asleep on my chest.

This morning I woke up and was getting dressed. Cydney woke up, looked at me, and asked me where was I going. I told her I was leaving for work. She began to cry. It was the heartbreak cry. Cydney began to say “No! Please don’t go!” I said “I have to.” I held her trying to get her to fall back asleep. She balled up in a fetal position, waved me off, and said “Go!” That hurt because she was hurting.

I continued getting dressed and she begged me to not go. I told her I would be back home this afternoon. As I got the rest of my things together to head out I heard her screaming as she ran into my mother’s room. I went in to give her a kiss on her forehead.

We’re both adjusting. I’ve known whenever I am no longer working from home that I would get very busy. This is part of the process, but it isn’t easy nonetheless. I’m going to make sure I spend some quality time with just the two of us this weekend.

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Book Excerpt: Poetic Justice

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To commemorate reaching the 40,000 views mark: Here’s one of the short stories from the book I’m working on…

Poetic Justice: Cydney My Wingman

“Nigga don’t approach her with that Atari, nigga, that ain’t good game, homie, sorry/ They say conversation rule a nation, I can tell/ But I could never right my wrongs ‘less I write it down for real/”-Kendrick Lamar

A few months ago I wrote a post based on this book/study called “Why Men Marry Some Women and Not Others.”  My bachelor’s degree is in psychology after nearly three years of majoring in business management because I was seriously considering a career in marriage counseling.  What I love about music is how it makes people feel.  We hear certain songs and lyrics that triggers emotions related to the song.  My love of music and the most common theme and motivation of composers-love- inspired me to study how people interact with those they often feel the way that these songs often conjure.  Since then, I’ve always had an interest in articles like this.  I found this post to be an interesting read.  After interviewing over 3,000 subjects they had an empirical study and the results intrigued me.

In the last part of the article, John T. Molloy gave bullet points about single fathers and widowers.  What stood out the most to me was that he stated “Single fathers with young children have little or no energy for a social life.” (2014)  I laughed at this because it is beyond true.  I don’t have the time or the energy to waste on being social.  I’m not going to chase any woman around for months or spend every weekend I can be out and about—I have a daughter.  In the context of dating and relationships I know what works for me and what doesn’t.  It doesn’t take me long to see it will work out or not.  I will also not lead someone on for months just because I am lonely and sometimes need the company.  I’d rather be by myself or doing dad stuff with Cydney.

My friends know that they will not see me unless it is someone’s birthday or a special occasion.  No one holds that against me.  Everyone also knows that if I am dating someone and there is potential for taking them seriously that if I get one free night a month, it goes to her.

I take Cydney with me everywhere.  Cydney has come with me to happy hours, birthdays, barbeques where we’ve got home late, and she is my traveling buddy.  It’s to the point now that if I am out without her, people ask where she is.  She is a part of my crew of constituents and when she isn’t there to be part of the revelry her presence is missed.   Because Cydney comes with me almost every time I’m out, when I meet women she’s with me.  Cydney is in fact my wingman.  She’ll scout around and if she feels up to it, she will let her presence be known to said girl knowing that I have to follow behind her and in some capacity introduce myself.

One time, I was in Harlem with some of my college friends watching the Knicks game.  Towards the end of the third quarter, Cydney got tired of sitting on my lap and hanging with us.  She got up, walked over to the neighboring table where two pretty girls were sitting and started watching the game with them.  She introduced herself, and sat there as if she’d known them.  She started eating their food and they were talking to Cydney all while having a good time.  I apologized to the girls and they said it was alright.  I brought Cydney back to my table and she went right back over there.  Had I felt like it, I could have made that work for me.  But I wasn’t that interested.  Cydney has done this many times.

Not only is Cydney my wingman, she’s the gatekeeper.  She’s the boss who makes the approval on whom I hang around with and who I don’t.  I’ve taken Cydney out with me on dates and in a fairly passive way she will make her opinion on the person known.  Usually, she will pretend that she’s tired, lay her jacket or coat on the floor, and pretend to go to sleep.  That means she’s over it.  If we walk into a room and she’s never met anyone in there before, she knows who are the people I am close to, interested in, or dating.  I think it’s just her intuition being strong because she’s young and she just can pick up on a vibe.  Maybe she sees how I look at them, they look at me, or they say “Hi” to her very differently.

The same night Cydney introduced herself to the table of girls my friends and I walked across the street and went to another bar to watch the rest of the playoff games.  We sat at a table and throughout the evening many people-girls included-came and joined us.  Cydney gave everyone the same kind of attention. She let everyone hold her and take pictures with her as well.  Towards the end of the night when we were leaving this establishment another girl had come in there and joined us.  She definitely caught my eye because she was gorgeous.  Something about her looked familiar.  I asked her if she went to Spelman College, the historically black all girls college across the street from my alma mater.  She said that she did.  I asked her “What year did you graduate?”  She replied “2008.”  I told her that my girl graduated that same year.  She asked who was it and I said “Timile Brown,” knowing that as soon as I said that name to anyone at Spelman who graduated in 2008 they knew who she was—the girl who recently died from cancer.  She nodded her head and said she knew her.  She didn’t really hear me and I could tell from the body language.

As we all walked out I pulled up a picture and showed her.  She gasped and her jaw dropped.  She said “Oh my God!  I had classes with her.  The day she died I cried over the phone with a mutual friend of both of ours.  She realized that the little girl I had with me was the Cydney, Timile’s daughter.  She began to well up and said that she needed a moment with Cydney.  She picked Cydney up, walked off with her, and said something to her.  Maybe she didn’t say anything.  What I was paying attention to was how my daughter looked at her.  Cydney looked her dead in the eyes and they bonded.  It was as if she had imprinted on this girl she’d just met.  It was a look I hadn’t seen Cydney give anyone except Timile.  I was very taken aback and didn’t let it be known that I in fact was having my own moment watching this.

I offered to give her and one of my other friends a ride to their next location.  It was time for Cydney and me to go home.  I walked and talked with my friend the two or three block walk back to the car while the girl carried Cydney and their moment extended to minutes.  She and I talked in the car.  She said that if I ever needed someone to watch Cydney that she would be more than happy to do so.  I didn’t take that seriously because every girl I’ve met who has found out that I am a windowed father has offered that.  In fact, I almost write off anyone who says that the first time I’m out and they meet her.  I just said “okay,” we exchanged numbers, and became friends.  As we would go back and forth talking on the phone or through text message she would ask questions about Cydney.  I could tell that she was actually interested in my daughter and kept saying that she wanted to take her on a “girl date.”  I said “ok” halfway still writing it off.

After she and I had hung out a few times just the two of us I told her I would arrange for the two of them to meet so that she could get to know Cydney.  She lived in Manhattan, but coached children’s soccer not too far from where I live in Long Island.  The girl had suggested that Cydney and I meet here out there and I said that I couldn’t make it, or that I wouldn’t; one or the other.  I took the bus out there with Cydney in her stroller.  The girl said that she looked up at me and was thinking to herself “Who is this one black person out here?”  As we got closer she saw I had Cydney with me and she was too excited to meet her again.  This was how Cydney and Neighbour became friends.

Neighbour once said to me that we first became friends because of Cydney…Regardless of whether or not Cydney was there I was leaving that night with her number.

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Going Off the Deep End

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Over the past few months I’ve reconnected with a friend from college, Christina. Morgan-our mutual friend that I have written about on here a lot-informed me that Christina had moved back home to New York after separating from her husband. We hadn’t spoken in at least six or seven years, but we have become very good friends ever since. My new job was because she was leaving it.

Christina and I talked about everything. She’s seeing someone who is a single father, so I give her insight into what she had signed up for. She has listened through the frustratingly entertaining and ongoing drama that is my love life. We’ve had similar experiences in dreams of forever with someone and being wary of ultimately trying again.

Christina expresses her thoughts in the form of poetry via Instagram. I have reposted a few of them on my page because I thought they were pretty damn good. Last night she wrote the one at the top. Because I’m “that guy,” I teased her a little bit because I knew what she was really talking about.

I read the poem a few times. I thought about my own fears in relationships. For a very long time I stayed on the shallow end. I messed around with and dated people who were in relationships. I was committed to not being committed. We could have our fun and go on our merry ways. It was never about sex. I was playing a little more advanced game: Why have p***y for a short amount of time when you could have a piece of someone’s mind and heart forever? Yeah, there’s levels to this shit… But that was me protecting myself from giving someone the oppurtunity to hurt me. Also, even if I had feelings I couldn’t take them seriously because they already had someone for that. Not only was I wading in the shallow end, I mastered it.

Sometimes you’re swimming around in the shallow end and you realize you’ve actually hit the deep end. You position yourself upright and realize the floor isn’t under you anymore. You look around and see that not only are you in the deep end, you’re much closer to that end of the pool. It’s much more freeing being on this side and the liberation is exciting. This is what happened with the five years I spent with Timile.

You can’t wade in the deep end. Swimming for long periods of time requires endurance. That is the second fear: getting weak. That first time water gets in one’s nose the fear of drowning returns. So what? Risk means failure and extenuating circumstances you didn’t account for are bound to come up. But you’ve worked your way up to doing this; so you can handle-or swim through-it.

I can’t swim. I remember being five years old and while visiting Antigua my family was at the beach. The water got in my nose and ever since I’ve been deathly afraid of water. I’ve been to the beach maybe four times in the last twenty years and I almost never get in the water. There’s a part of me that always remembers that moment of being consumed by the waves and it has crippled me. I say this to say that too often one’s fear can be their setback. I don’t want to be that way anymore.

Since Timile passed away I’ve fallen in love again once. There was a part of Mr that was afraid to try again. My previous experience may have made me into the man I am today, but I still have fears. I’m a cynic who told Timile when we first started dating that i knew I was going to lose her one day. However, in the present I’m not afraid to try again. My past wasn’t a hindrance and I am not afraid to fail. Hell, I fail with said person like every other day. Nonetheless, I’ll try again like it didn’t happen.

I still would and do things that would be me protecting myself. We all do this. It’s human nature. I don’t know what this go-round has in store for me. The difference is that I didn’t wade testing the waters slowly. Well, that’s hard to say. Maybe I did at first. What happened was that I remembered how great it was being on the other end. So I dove in to prove the water in spite of its unpredictability is just fine.

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God Has Been Blessing the Grinders

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I started a new job yesterday. Shortly after I posted a picture of my employer’s logo on Instagram one of my best friends from college sent me a message on Facebook. My boy O and I both changed our majors to psychology at the same time, lived in the same apartment complex, his ex and Timile were really good friends. We were around each other a lot the last two years at Morehouse. He’s the father of two boys and he too has been working hard to make things happen while they live in Virginia and Georgia while he resides in Connecticut. We talk maybe once a year and I haven’t seen him in a good five. No matter what, he’s fam because we’ve been around through some hard times to say the least.

Anyways, O sent me a message on Facebook. He congratulated me on the new position and told me he got an offer as a counselor (he took the psychology thing seriously). Then he said something very real: God has been blessing the grinders. Always having a knack for saying something profound in jest I felt that. I have a few friends who have worked hard, were waiting for their break, and it has been their season to reap what they’ve sewn. That’s how I got where I am today.

I’d been hustling forever out seems. I never made over $30,000 a year with a college degree. While it sucked, I made things happen. I started writing. I turned it into income. I would produce music for a couple dollars.

The last two weeks have been the culmination of years of being relentless and sticking to a mission no one understood. But I knew ultimately my road would lead to success and happiness. My friend Christina told me she was leaving her job. I said “lemme hold that.” I sent her my resume on a Monday and by Wednesday I had an interview. Wednesday morning I took the train into Manhattan and by the time I got there they were canceling it saying the position changed and I wouldn’t qualify. I felt a little discouraged. Christina told me to just call and try anyway for any other possibilities. I did so knowing that I was going in there and getting this job.

The interview went from talking about my qualifications to explaining the job I initially was interviewing for. HR wanted me to meet the VP. It was around 12pm and they said the VP would be available by 3. I said I’d wait. They told me I come back another day. My logic was that if the job opened up Monday and it’s Wednesday they didn’t have the time to recruit anyone else. So the guy who pushed for a shot and waited all day was the one for the job.

I met with the VP at 3. By 3:30 they said he wanted to land me the job. The following Monday I had a third interview and by Wednesday I was given an offer.

It’s no coincidence that this worked out. What I thought about was the quote from The Alchemist: And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. That’s about right. I had another possible job lined up in White Plains, which would have been a 2.5 hour commute from home to work. I would’ve taken it had this oppurtunity not come up. The location of this job I pushed for fit my professional and personal life goals perfectly. I knew I needed to make this happen.

So here I am, on the train en route to day two. This seems like the beginning of making the rest of my dreams come true.

Cydney’s Lament

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Cydney pretending that she's on her cell phone talking to a friend of mine.

A little over a week ago I wrote about how Cydney is grieving the loss of her mother. Somehow I was hoping that it wouldn’t happen, but it was inevitable. I hate to use the term “acting out,” so I’ll say that she is expressing a brand new feeling that she doesn’t know how to articulate: heartbreak.

This isn’t Cydney’s first venture into being heartbroken. I had a friend that she got really close to. Life happened and people grow apart. We did. My friend and I met up one last time and it was pretty awkward. No eye contact and it was as if we both knew this interaction was the “exit interview.” As they were getting ready to leave, Cydney thought she was going with them. She cried and cried in a way I hadn’t heard before. It was crushing for all parties. They even sent me a text message saying “that was heartbreaking.” It was.
Cydney still remembers this person. From time to time she asks about them and says they were her friend she doesn’t see anymore. That was a year ago.

Recently it seems as if Cyd is putting the pieces of the puzzle together. She talks about Timile a lot more. Last Saturday night she looked at an old balloon that was in the living room and said “We sent a balloon to the sky so Timile could catch it in heaven.” Here it is, mid-July and she’s remembering February 14th, synthesizing information, and drawing her own conclusion with literally no discussion about it in five months.

Cydney wants a mom. Children especially toddlers-are intuitive geniuses with nothing to hold them back. I believe everything my three year old says in moments where thoughts come out of the blue. Out of nowhere she said “Timile wants you to be _____’s boyfriend.” I just looked at her and said “Oh really?” She nodded and gave a “mmhmm” in lament.

The next day, I was talking with my mother about taking Cydney to the beach. While playing to the stereotype that black people can’t swim, I mentioned “I guess I have to find someone to teach you to swim.” She responded “I can swim. Timile taught me how to swim.” I said to her “No, Timile didn’t teach you how to swim.” She paused and said “_____ is gonna teach me how to swim.”

After a pause Cydney then blurted “_____ is my mom.” My mother responded “No, she’s not your mom.”

“She’s going to be my mom” Cydney vocalized with all of the confidence in the world; yet the timbre of her of her voice suggested casualty. Cydney is truly a chip off the old block. The juxtaposed expression of her innermost thoughts and feelings with a relaxed demeanor is so off putting one can’t help but pay attention.

After a short pause, “I don’t have a mom” was Cydney’s next statement. It was as if she was rectifying who Timile is, who she wants a certain person to be, and realizing where she currently stands. She didn’t pout at all or show any indications of sadness; but i felt for my little girl.

With much more experience in handling children, my mother quickly changed the subject. That quick, she was over it.

Later that afternoon, Cydney came running into the den where I was watching TV with her toy smartphone and letting me more that _____ was on it and they needed to speak to me. I was told that I am buying the three of us cokes. Right after, Cydney wanted the phone back so that they could finish their discussion.

I told said person that Cydney needs her right about now. They’ve made sure to call and speak to her. Cydney gets too excited when she sees the phone ringing and knows who it is. Aware of how cell phones work, Cydney puts the cell phone on speaker so that she can look at their picture as she speaks. This is her way of having face to face contact. She’ll do things on the phone and ask “Did you see that?” The other day she had Disney Princess bingo cards that she was clapping together. After she did this, she placed the cards next to the phone as if they were in her right and left hand and asked if she was doing it too. They played along and Cydney couldn’t have been happier.

Maybe Cydney sees something that I don’t. I’m an adult who is more than jaded by life and the ways of the world. However, she isn’t. I won’t read too much into it, but I am paying attention. For right now, my little girl is a little happier than she was before. That’s all that matters.

One last thing…last night while playing with some toys Cydney uttered “Timile, my mom died because she was sick and I want a mom.” I told her “Well, I’ll find you a stepmom.” She didn’t hear a word I said and went right back to her toys.

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The Album I Made For Christmas

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I posted this picture on Instagram a few minutes ago…

Recently I’ve had a lot on my mind trying to rectify my past, what role it plays in my present, and how all of this will shape my future.

I’m in the process of turning Cydney and my room into just hers and converting my studio into my bedroom. While cleaning up I came across this. I remember that I’d kept it in hiding because I didn’t want to look at it. I wanted to keep this buried but not quite let it go.

Why? It has nothing to do with Timile passing away. It’s about the time period in which it was made. I had quit my job at Walgreens because I was hired as a mortgage loan consultant. It was supposed to be my first real job after graduating from college close to a year earlier. It was October 2008. The mortgage crisis had happened and the company went bankrupt the day before I began.

I was feeling particularly crushed because after being with Timile for almost two years this meant my plans of proposing to her were put on hold. I was unemployed and she was trying out school to work in advertising. Our circumstances got Timile frustrated and she took it all out on me. In an  argument she said that the person she was talking to that she chose me over was happily married and that could have been her. Crushed. All I wanted to do was make her happy but life had just got in the way.

She went home to Virginia for Thanksgiving. I picked her up from the airport in my car. The window was broken and the fall was just about over in Georgia, so there were leaves in the backseat. She looked at them and was fed up. She went off in the car and said she was moving back to Virginia in a few weeks. I didn’t understand.

Christmas was coming and I was broke. My credit cards were maxed out trying to pay bills and keep our apartment afloat. Timile wasn’t working so everything was on me. On December 8-our two year anniversary-I made her an instrumental song entitled “Timile’s Song. I played it for her in the car on Cobb Parkway and halfway through the song she looked at me and said “Remember when we first started dating and you said that a girl is going to move on if she is unhappy? I’m unhappy. I have to be honest with you.” I looked at her intently while waiting at a red light. She then said “When I went back home I ran into “Felix” (that’s what I’ll call him). Felix was someone I liked in high school and it just didn’t work out.” Once again. This was our two year anniversary and life was already kicking me in the nuts.

I had no words. She was leaving for Virginia in ten days. There was nothing I could do or say that would sway her. I didn’t even try. Her mind was made up so my attitude was “Fuck it.”

I began to say everything I wanted to sat through music. No pen or paper was needed. I freestyled the whole thing. She was staying in one bedroom and I was in another. So while she’d go to sleep, I would work. I’d be up until 5 am working diligently on this passion project. If she was gone and attempting to find happiness somewhere else at least I said everything I felt. I made the whole album in five days. It was a double disc in which the first one was all of the old songs she’d heard already and then the new ones. I made a book of the lyrics, the samples, and gave a brief anecdote about each song. Heartbreak tends to bring out the best of creative people and by all means I definitely was at the time.

Timile lamented that she wanted us to still be friends. We were friends while she was in the bedroom right next to me and I could hear her laughing and joking on the phone with this guy. That shit was brutal.

Right before I took Timile to the airport we exchanged Christmas gifts. She bought me this tie. I wear it a lot but I hate looking at it. She said to me jokingly “Nice tie.” I replied “Thanks. My ex-girlfriend gave it to me.” It was said playfully but she wasn’t feeling it. Not one lick. In my head I thought “Oh well. It’s true. Don’t be mad at me when you made these circumstances.”

We said our goodbyes and that was that. I had quit smoking cigarettes some time before that; but I couldn’t help but pick up a pack at that time. I got back to what was our place, sat on the trunk of my car, lit one up, and looked at the December night sky. I saw planes fly by and thought about Timile flying away. She was coming back in a few weeks to get her car and Felix was coming down to drive her back to Virginia. I wondered what she would think when she listened to it. Then I stopped caring. She was gone.

For the next month we fought everyday. Something kept telling me to keep trying although all of the details around me said “Let it go and leave this one alone. Take your loss. She’s just not that into you anymore. There’s another nigga in the picture.”

Yet somehow that added to us fighting. We were fighting about every little thing, but we were really fighting about us. Tensions were high and it got ugly. Her leaving had played into every insecurity of mine. That I wasn’t enough, I wasn’t her type, I didn’t make enough money, etc. It came out in our conversations.

After she’d come back to Atlanta in January we fought even more. She said that she was moving back but planning on doing her own thing. She was still going to carry on her  relationship with Felix. I was done. Something in my heart said to continue preparing a home and then just let her go. If it’s right she’ll come back.

March 1 I flew to Virginia to drive back down with Timile. I vented in the car the whole way to my friend Kofi and was not looking forward to seeing her. I had my game face on by the time I left arrivals in Newport News ready to have left this all behind once Timile got to her apartment. She greeted me with a smile and that changed everything.

So those are my thoughts on this. Since I’ve made it I have never listened to it in its entirety. It was too painful thinking about that time in my life. I still haven’t and can’t. That’s why I’ve kept it buried until today. Maybe I’ll let it sit on my desk as a reminder of where I’ve been. And if I’m ever there again to remember how far I would go to win back the one I loved…even if it meant letting it go.

Soccer Dad Chronicles: Week 7

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I meant to post this over a month ago. I just didn’t get around to it. However, I thought this was an interesting way to tell the tale of Cydney’s soccer experience May 31st.

11:39 Scissor kicks. Practicing footwork and ball control.

11:40 Cydney needs a little assistance.

11:41 Scissors and kicking it with the inside of the foot

11:42 Run in to the coach. To speed up the process and not be the last one Cydney picks up the bank and runs with it.

11:43 Practicing shooting. Running up and shooting. They’re teaching with the right foot but Cydney’s strong foot is her left.

One mom obviously used to play soccer so she’s helping out. Maybe she’s one of the pink teams coaches.

11:50 Water break.

11:51 Outside cuts, dribbling, and shooting instructions.

11:54 Cydney scores first goal during drills. She measures up perfectly because she wants it to go in.

11:59 One little girl is getting winded. She dribbles to the goal with her hand on her hip.

12:01 While it’s her turn to go Cydney stops mid dribble to pull up her socks.

12:03 Water break

12:06 Scrimmage time.

12:07 Cydney almost makes a stop.

12:08 Cydney throws up her hands and gives up. Subs herself out.

12:10 This pink team is beating the crap out of team Frozen. She’s making stops, faking girls out, and everything.

12:11 Cydney puts her name sticker on her head.

12:13 Water break.

12:14 A wave to me from Cydney.

12:17 Cydney sees me putting on chapstick. She stops so she can get some.

12:20 Number 6 on the pink team scores her millionth goal.

12:21 Water break.

12:22 Cydney’s one chance at a fast break goal her teammate gets in the way, takes it from her, runs and scores the goal.

12:24 Instead of scoring goal one million and two, no 6 on the pink team stops and gives the assist to her teammate

12:25 Cydney wants a break

12:27 I throw it right to Cydney and one of the girls the ball from her.

12:28 lining up. All done.

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Cydney Grieving Her Loss

I know…I haven’t been posting anywhere near as frequently as I’d like to or used to. I’ll work on that. I have plenty of stories to tell.

Cydney has been going through some changes over the last month or so. She had been making so much progress since she started daycare. She was finally getting the whole potty training thing, she was listening a lot more, and life almost sweet. Recently, she has regressed. While she would have almost no accidents at school, she started having a few. Cydney has been listening less and less. Normally when I’d count down from five, she’d fall right in line at “five.” It hardly works at all. Some days it’s as if she doesn’t care.

Cydney has reverted to acting like she’s eighteen months old. She’ll cry over every little thing for long periods of time, whine, grunt, and point at things she wants. She’s looking for attention.

Cydney has started calling my sister ‘Mommy.” In theory, that is great because that is how she is feeling about someone. But I could tell that there was something more than that. Not that my sister isn’t great with Cydney. She’s been reaching out more and more to women. When it’s bedtime, she’d rather sleep with my mother or my sister when she’s in town. Cydney would cry for my sister saying “I want to sleep with my mommy,” or cry “I want my mommy! I miss her!” That shit is hard to hear.

I was talking with my mother a few weeks ago. She said that she thinks that Cydney has been acting out because she’s finally realizing that she doesn’t have a mother. She was saying that now that Cydney is in school, she’s seeing the other kids get dropped off and picked up from their moms and they probably talk about them, too. I think the Mother’s Day thing made it much more real, too. Everyone made Mother’s Day cards for theirs, and she had to give hers to me. That broke my heart a little bit, too.

Ever since Mother’s Day she’s been reaching out. She’d been saying for a month or two prior that Neighbour was her honorary mom. She didn’t really reach out and express it until that time. Sometime later, Cydney and I had a conversation and she’d expressed that she was mad at her. I won’t say why, but she did. Why she still was crazy about Neighbour, she had been a little more hesitant towards her. Little things were different. I started putting a lot of the pieces of the puzzle together. Neighbour had been really busy with work so she wasn’t around.

There isn’t much that I can do about this. It’s a passing phase and Cydney is expressing herself non-verbally and reconciling something she can’t help. On Saturday, Cydney and my nephew got into a little dispute like kids do. I told my nephew, “Look, you gotta understand Cydney is going through something right now.” I explained to him the best way I could to an eight year old. Out of nowhere, Cydney exclaimed in a pretty hostile way “Because of my friends!”

Breakthrough! What my mother said was right.

I’ll let her refer to my sister as mommy sometimes. This morning she asked about my sister and referred to her as mommy. I said to her “Remember, Timile is your mom.” She responded “I don’t want Timile to be my mom!” She’s said that a few times. It’s hard to hear every time. What Cydney is trying to say is that her mother isn’t here and she wants her own mommy who is physically here.

The Confessions of a Cynic

God gave me the gifts of uncommon levels of self-awareness and discernment. I truly belive that the two go hand and hand. Being very sure and comfortable with who I am has made me observant and as a result I see people for who they are. 

Whoever first said that the eyes are the window into one’s soul was indubitably accurate.  I make strong eye contact with people. However, I tend to not do so for very long because I don’t like to see all of what I generally see in people. I’ll play it off with a brief look away, as if I am just being aware of the surroundings and no one will notice it. 

Why?  Because I’m cynical.  My life experiences have shown me that people almost only look out for themselves and what is in their best interest. People don’t really care unless it’s effecting them.  I have almost always been this way. The last four years haven’t helped this cause at all.  For example, Timile’s parents.  They wanted Cydney.  Not at all were they thinking about the fact that many people-including Cydney’s father who had taken care of her the whole time-weren’t grieving a loss.  They tried to manipulate the system to get what they wanted with their claim being that when Timile died this is what she really wanted.  I looked at them differently when they spent time with Cydney after court.  I saw them as people who were just like me who were devastated by a loss.  They reacted selfishly, but it humanized them a little bit to me.

I live a life in which I have very little expectations.  I will often assume the worst so that I am pleasantly surprised when the desired outcome I am looking for actually happens.  If something needs to be done, or I am emotionally hurting I will solve the problem or self-soothe as much as humanly possible until I am at the point where I feel the need to reach out.  People have their own lives and their own problems. 

Often the people in my innermost circle will want to just try to give me advice on how to solve my problems.  It’s been  insinuated and told to me basically that my story is too sad or that it’s too depressing to deal with when they have their own issues.  I’ve been told I need to seek a support group and let others comfort me so that we can be there for each other since we’d all have lost people.  They’re not really paying attention.  I’m not grieving.  I haven’t been for years.  Being a parent is  overwhelming and I need the time to breathe, blow off steam, and just not pretend that I’m happy all of the time because life isn’t always rosy.  In fact, life is mostly hard and overwhelming.  Things like this make me not want to share and I shut down.

When I know that my friends are in similar places I try my best to be there.  I have one friend who has said on a few occasions they’re about to become cynical or some variance of that.  I moved heaven and earth to make their days a little better with because I know what it feels like and I don’t want them to start seeing life or people the way I do.  At the time I needed that reciprocated for a moment months later I was told essentially they couldn’t be there at the time because I always seemed unhappy.  Well, yeah.  That will do it.

I haven’t lost all faith in humanity, though.  At heart I am optimistic and truly believe that things will work out.  Most days I am a happy person.  I just don’t like to show it.  Recently I reconnected with and made a couple of new friends and it has really helped.  For once I have been able to really get things off of my chest and speak with no filter.  I haven’t had to be fearful on the days that I need to vent that it’s too much.  It has very much been appreciated.

If course there’s Cydney.  While she may be several handfuls she often means well and gives me reasons to smile.  She’s definitely softened me up.  The world can be really harsh and my biggest motivation to fight cynicism is because I don’t want her to view the world this way.

…Read It Because I Wrote It

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