Not Here For The Easter Bunny

Today was a very long day. I went to bed around 12:30. At about 1 AM, Cydney woke up crying a little bit and went back to sleep. 1:30 she woke up screaming. She continued to do so for a good hour and some change before I had enough. I took her for a little drive along the beach until she went right back to sleep at 3:43.

The next day was still some running around to do but I forgot all about the Easter Bunny! We got back home, my mother did Cydney’s hair, and to the mall we went. We waited in line for a good fifteen minutes. When it was time to take pictures Cydney would not let go of me. She had a look if terror in her face. I guess a big ass rabbit will do it every time. Cydney wanted no parts of it. Here are the results:

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Getting Ready For Cydney’s Arrival

By the end of March, I hired a lawyer and was getting ready for my custody hearing May 21. While I did hire one gor insurance purposes, he didn’t give me any information I hadn’t figured out on my own. I knew I would get Cydney back because since it had been established that I was her father, constitutionally no one could do anything unless I relinquished my rights.

Since Cydney was only physically in hee grandparents’ custody, I knew that I could go down to Virginia and get her whenever I felt like it. I had gone five months without so much as seeing a picture of her. Around that time, my sister had done some snooping and she found two pictures of her. My heart sunk when I saw them because she looked very different from the eight month old I was forced to leave behind. I showed them to everyone in my family. My father isn’t one to show emotion but when you look really close you can see how he really feels. His response was a pause and then said “She needs to be up here soon.” I knew he couldn’t take it.

But he was right, my mother was having surgery pretty soon and after she was good to go we were going to go and get her. It was time to shop. My mother and I bought a wardrobe, high chair, toys, snd even stuff for Easter because we knew she would be back by then. My aunt bought her an Easter outfit to match my little cousin Tyler also. Things still had me feeling under extreme unrest but I knew everything would eventually be alright. I was getting my little girl back in less than a week and no one knew it.

Relating To Renee: A Musical Piece

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“I’m pourin’ beer out for my shorty who ain’t here/ I’m from the ghetto so listen this is how I shed my tears/”

This song originally came out when I was in fifth grade. I’d heard it a few times before, but I didn’t really pay it attention until my aunt’s college graduation in Delaware and my parents were talking about it. My parents aren’t rap people so I paid attention that they were talking about it. After that I heard the song everywhere. “Day by day, I wonder why my shorty had to die.” Wow. I thought that was pretty intense that such a thing had possibly happened. It was written with such detail everyone wonders how real was this story Mr. Cheeks told.

Legal Drug Money by the Lost Boyz is a classic album for people from Queens, New York. Lex, Coupes, Bimmaz, and Benz played in every car, you could hear Music Makes Me High in people’s headphones, and to this day a party isn’t a party in South Queens until the Get Up remix plays. But this was the song everyone loved.

To this day I keep a copy of Legal Drug Money on my phone to listen to. I usually listen to it when I’m shopping on Jamaica Ave and do the LB slide. I’ve even taught Cydney that move.

Whenever Renee comes on, I skip it. I couldn’t bear to hear it. At 26, I related too much to the guy with dreads wondering why his girl died young. Of course, it reminds me of Timile. Do I think about her when the song comes on? Yes and no. Yes because of the obvious but no because I don’t reminisce about her specifically. Moreso I just zone out, relate, “emote,” and keep it moving. Maybe once or twice I have listened to it. It came on my phone while I was playing music and cleaning up after Cydney before she wakes up and makes a mess again. Been playing it on repeat since which inspired me to share this anecdote.

*Does LB Slide*

Taking and Recognition

When I went out of town this weekend, my sister and my godmother watched Cydney. I had very long day Sunday so my godmother stayed until yesterday. Seeing that I was visibly tired, she sat me down to see what’s going on with me. I told her last night was a sleepless night. She asked me what was on my mind, and I honestly couldn’t even tell her.

She told me to sit down and she took my blood pressure. She said it was slightly high. I told her that a couple of times last week I had been having chest pains. I wasn’t surprised. If anything,  I was surprised it was only slightly high.

The last three years I’ve been running. Once thing after another and not really taking care of myself. Its common for men to do so and whatever is going on internally to just eat you up on the inside. 
A couple of years ago, Timile and Cydney demanded a lot of me. Timile wouldn’t say too much to me about me running ragged but she recognized it. A few weeks ago a friend of mine sent me a screenshot of a conversation they had with Timile. They told her how we went to high school together, they met once, and that she was praying for her. Timile responded thank you but to pray for me. She continued to say that I’m going through a lot between work and taking care of her. It really made me feel a certain way I hadn’t felt in a long time. It felt like although she was gone, she still got it and the message was on time.

I bring this up because the people who take the most from you recognize it. Since I’ve been back from the weekend I think Cydney has recognized it too. My little girl is always trying to take care of me, but I’ve never been “Daddy” so much. She’s been following me around, giving me really big and long hugs and telling me she loves me. They all mean well, but know they have to rely on it. Whoever I’m writing this for feeling a similar way, just know it’ll be alright and it’ll show up for you soon.

The First Few Days In Buffalo

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Cydney and I right before our flight

After our trying out Memorial Sloan-Kettering for Timile’s treatments, we decided to make the move to Buffalo. Timile preferred to be around her family so we did it. I dropped everything I was doing and made the move. I was in the middle of producing an album for a band and just had to say “Sorry guys.”

The night before our flight was a long one. I had to pack our lives into six suitcases (including cans of meal supplements, a pole, and other medical supplies for Timile’s feeding tube), and a wheelchair. It was a short flight and Cydney slept the whole time.  We got there and it was gray and real glum. It looked exactly as I felt. Buffalo looked like Newport News, Virginia that just got left alone as a child. We got to the house and I passed out for hours on a couch with about nine people in there having all kinds of conversation.

The second day there was March 23 and it snowed five inches. I was done. DONE! I had to take a train back to New York the next day so that I could drive the car back up with the rest of our belongings. I couldn’t wait because I already hated Buffalo. I got to New York and just slept. Well, the other thing I did was coordinate a surprise baby shower for Timile.

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One of the only pictures that exist of the three of us

After that day and a half I couldn’t wait to get back to my family. I got into the city limits and felt the excitement you have when you’re in a long distance relationship and you see someone for the first time in a long time. The shower went great and I’m glad we had that experience. Her whole family being around gave her that feeling she wanted by moving there. They gave Timile a nice new haircut and all.

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Everyone knew Timile with very long hair but no one saw this

We also went to see the oncologist for the first time. He told us that Timile’s cancer had spread all the way up to her neck that she had a 20% chance of complete remission. Disheartening numbers but I felt that one in five was doable for us. Timile got really upset then and I just told her we would be alright and we were lucky enough to be that 20%. She smiled. The oncologist also said that since she was young she could take an aggressive chemotherapy treatment. Had she been thirty they would have just made her “comfortable” which means hospice and I wasn’t here for that.

With that said it was time to get busy. If that was a Thursday, Monday chemo was starting.

Manly Talk About Marriage and Kids

I’m twenty-seven years old. A seasoned adult but still adolescence seems like yesterday. It seems like yesterday my boys and I were holed up in my apartment doing studio sessions with dreams of making it in some variance of big and then going out partying or philandering. I think all of us are now either married or have kids.

As you get married and have kids your conversations for the most part change. Still being young some still have the young and single mindset and you don’t. Being that Timile and I were practically married since we were 21, most of my friends didn’t get it or understand the transition into not really hearing the salacious stories that come along with being in your twenties (I did, but you learn as a man not to do so in front of the Mrs. But even that changes).

I bring this up because two of my closest friends and my conversations have changed drastically. My best friend Brandon and I lived down the block from each other. We went to both high school and college together but became best friends in college. He’s now married and his son Andrew is a few months older than Cydney. I’m not exaggerating by saying that a good 80% of our conversations are about our kids, what they’re doing now/yours do that yet, what they watch on tv; 15% what we do when we don’t have the kids, 1% work, and the rest about whatever else. I never thought I’d see the day where two grown men throw around the word “cute” (In a manly way of course) so much. The same goes for my best friend from high school, Tre who has two sons age five and six.

My married friends, most conversations become vent sessions. Only the newlywed ones have happy stuff to say all the time. Those of us that know better just sit back and wait for that first “I can’t STAND ______” to laugh and let them know how them vows you took just got real. Us who are parents also love to hear the married ones talk about how busy they are and crack up laughing at how things will be when kids do come along.

Well, as a single parent I got a foot in one arena and one in the other. I still relate to the vent sessions (NEVER do one where they can hear you. Fire, and brimstone will come down second only to the Book of Revelations), and help the new guys out. So its interesting of trying to find balance between the two. And just loke in these conversations that’s exactly how it goes: kids first and almost all and then whatever’s left is for whatever else ensues.

My Twin

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My sister and I are two minutes apart in age. Yes, I’m the younger of the two of us and between 3:32 and 3:34 on November 22 she makes sure to remind me.

There’s a saying about twins that you’re either the best of friends or the worst of enemies. We’re moreso the former although we have times of being the latter. We have a certain dynamic in which whatever one is the other isn’t. She’s the really boisterous one out of the two of us and I’m the laidback one. I think we try our best to balance each other out.

I get asked a lot do we have “the twin thing” where if something happens to one does the other one feel it. We used to when we were young but I think once we found significant others it went away. The last time I remember that happening was 2005 where around 4:30 one afternoon I felt my left ring and pinky finger went numb. The next day she called and told me around 4:30 the day before she slammed her left ring and pinky finger in a car door.

I bring my sister up because things have been pretty hectic the last week since my mom has been out of the hospital. I’ve had lots of running around to do and she cane back up from Jersey to help out. Most of her helpling out has come in the form of watching Cydney. And that’s great because Cydney loves her and kinda doesn’t want much to do with me. They’ve been having a great time playing ans her teaching my child inappropriate things like siblings do to your kid. I don’t trip because I do it with her son.

Soon she’s going back home but its been a nice little relief and good way to ease into when the fun begins in a few days. I didn’t ask, she just did it. Relief is always a good thing and someone who does so knowing you need it on their own is great.

Thanks,  Courtney even though I can’t STAND you.

The Decision

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The view out Timile's window

After all that had gone on in the last couple of weeks after Cydney was born, we were still figuring out our options on whether or not we were going to stay in New York or move to Buffalo for TImile to do her treatments in one of the two places.  Virginia was out of the question because the offer that Timile’s parents had put on the table meant splitting us up and we were not going to do that.  While in the hospital between visits, taking care of Cydney, and arguing with social workers, I was making and receiving phone calls from Timile’s family all giving me or asking me why I wouldn’t want Timile to go to Roswell Park in Buffalo.  I simply told them, “If it were you and you had the opportunity to go to the number two cancer hospital and you all had a  new child what would you do?”  They didn’t hear me though and Timile really wanted to go there.

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Cydney the day we took her home

Timile and I were going head to head about it as well.  This was a similar discussion we were having while in Atlanta.  She wanted to move to Buffalo when she was pregnant because she felt that the pregnancy was going to be difficult.  We were going through some rough times in Atlanta but I thought staying there would be a better option.  We compromised and came up with moving to New York because it was right in the middle of her family in Buffalo, her parents in Virginia, and mine in New York.  After it was all said and done, we were going to come back to Atlanta.  Those conversations got pretty intense, and so did these.

After talking with my father one afternoon, he said “I think you all should go to Buffalo.”  I took it seriously.  I usually do when my father says things.  He’s not the most considerate of feelings but he keeps it real and I know when to listen.  It was eerily similar to the conversation we had when I was telling him about Buffalo that summer.  He gave it to me real, then so I listen.

Timile’s grandmother, uncle, and two of her cousins came down from Buffalo the week we got home from the hospital.  We already had an appointment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering so we were going to go there and see where things went and make our decision based on it.

We got there for Timile’s appointment and the oncologist told us how shocked they were at TImile’s diagnosis.  She told us that the average age for Timile’s cancer is 73 years old.  Wow.  They admitted her immediately because she needed to be.  Timile wasn’t too fond of going back into the hospital only three days after getting out.  Sloan-Kettering had the equivalent of an emergency room.  It made her family and her tear up seeing all of these people who were very sick, bald, and ALL cancerous waiting for beds or to be seen on a Monday night.  It was an emotionally shocking moment.  It did something to me, but logically I thought about it as it being a cancer hospital so it made sense.

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Timile and Cydney at Sloan Kettering

The days at Sloan-Kettering were ok.  The staff was really nice, and they really took care of Timile.  Timile just didn’t like how it felt being there.  It was also in Manhattan, which meant that I had to drop Cydney off in Queens at my grandmother’s, then drive to the city, spend $36 on parking everyday, get home at about 1 AM, and still do the being up all night with a newborn.  Yeah, shit was starting to get real.  That more than anything changed my mind about staying in New York.  But, we needed to try it and see it for ourselves to make sure we had no regrets.  However, their cafeteria was great and the view from Timile’s window was one you’d pay a million dollars to have living in New York.  I will say that.

We got the go ahead to bring Cydney up to the hospital.  I’ll never forget that day.  It was the day that Timile had exploratory surgery.  Timile’s surgeon was like one of the most renowned surgeons or something.  They had these really nice waiting rooms where family person had a private room with these oak walls and everything.  After getting lost and sitting in there for a while.  The surgeon came to me and told me that Timile in fact had stage four cancer and it had spread throughout her abdominal region.  My heart dropped and I just looked at my little girl thinking “I hate that you have to go through this.”  I looked at her and that was the first time I’d thought to myself “Well, it just may be you and me kid.”  The nurses gave me a moment to myself with Cydney and they did all they could do to try to be comforting.

I went to where Timile was recovering looking visibly upset.  She smiled at me and asked what was wrong.  I don’t remember whether or not we actually talked about it.  We held hands for a second.  I remember looking out of the window right by where we were and seeing the city I’ve known all my life just moving by and everything right where I was was still.  We went back to the room where Timile was staying, watched the NCAA tournament and had a normal day after that. We also made the decision that we were going to move to Buffalo.