April 4th marked seven years since I regained custody of my daughter. In spite of not seeing her father for five months, the little thirteen month old baby took a brief look at the man holding her and intuitively felt a sense of connection. Once it clicked, it didn’t matter her grandparents she’d spent the past 40% of her life around mattered; her favorite person on the planet was back.
Seven years later, I don’t think much about the period I didn’t have my child. There is a very good chance my forced absence and will play a role in how she views the world; but I don’t give that much thought, either. I don’t have too many pictures of that period and that too I am more than okay with; it was a very dark time.
This past Thursday, I gave that bid a little more attention. I couldn’t have made it through that period without the people who made that period of time much more meaningful and I guess downright depressing. So I want to take some time to say thank you to all of them.
Too my parents: thank you for holding me down. Mom, I know that was a difficult time for you. You knew your son was hurting. In spite of your own fight with cancer, you still did more than most could have done at their peak. Thank you for not only coming with me; but doing most of the driving to Virginia to get my little girl a week after having surgery. Dad, you had moments where you showed me not only is it okay to be vulnerable; but it is healthy to do so and showed me by doing instead of telling me. It’s hard to be a man-a black man-because nobody gives a fuck about how you feel; but you have to do so because it is the only way to keep going.
To my sister: just for being my twin. That says so much that only you will understand; but in those few words, you know the paragraphs I’m trying to say.
To my big bro, Barry: you have your own family, your own life, and your own issues that I couldn’t and wouldn’t have known you had. You always answered your phone. You always let me talk and then gave me all of the game my parents probably did; but I may not have listened to because they were my parents. Shit, you might have been the first person I called when Timile died. Thank you for giving me an alibi if I needed it. “If the judge ask you where you working, tell them you’re a manager at my Subway on Fulton Street in Brooklyn. If they have any questions, give them my umber…” you said. For when I called you on March 1st to tell you how things went in court, of course the DNA test said I’m Cydney’s father; and they were so fed up with the bullshit, they told me to file the paperwork; you told me to file custody in Virginia.
To Michael and Roger. We aren’t blood; but we are family. Because I didn’t really know who I was dealing with in my “in-laws,” you two helped me play this game of chess that was my life. Michael, you more than held me down. I came down to Virginia for one day with the clothes on my back and just enough money to get back home. You took me to court, then to Burlington Coat Factory to buy clothes for a court hearing none of us knew I’d be in town for. It was only right that my first stop after getting Cydney back was to come to your place.
To my boys in New York: I hadn’t seen many of you in years; but less than 48 hours after Timile’s death, most of you came together to just be good friends and demonstrate how true the phrase “Fam Comes First.”
To Donnell and Kofi: we were far apart in distance; but y’all were right there with me. Donnell, I say it all of the time; but boy do I wish you were still alive for me to tell you how wild things have been. Kofi, you already know, way more than virtually anyone else on the planet does outside of me.
To Sydney and Tracy: man. Thank you two for being voices of reason. Timile and I were just kids trying to figure adulthood out and had absolutely no clue how to do it. When things were going south between us, y’all talked a lot of sense into Timile she couldn’t see and wouldn’t listen to because you spoke for me, without me speaking to either one of you. For every time I speak to the two of you on the phone and greet me with “Hey son” and “Cuz!” respectively, I appreciate it.
To Chase: thank you for giving me a place to go when I needed to get out of New York. That may not have been during the five month stretch I didn’t have Cyd. But it played a very integral role in getting me together and the genesis of these Single Dadventures. And thank you for putting a little money in my pocket when I needed it, too.
To Leighanna: thank you for my first real outing and reintroducing me to New York.
To Scott and Gabe: thank you for reintroducing me to New York, also. Maybe y’all don’t know but the two of you move in a way that I appreciate and admire. There is no such thing as a friend whom you don’t admire and I hold y’all in a very high regard.
To Morgan: thank you for being a friend when I needed one. We were both going through a transitional period. I can’t speak for you; but just talking out a lot of our shit made me feel like I wasn’t alone. I probably never said that before; but maybe that gives some context to why I make sure I reach out to keep in touch.
To everyone who just kept my family and I lifted up from afar: thank you all. All of it is the reason this site exists and all of the other endeavors that have stemmed from it.
I take this particular platform for granted. I’m not necessarily running from it; but I just got tired of talking about my past and talking about myself. I’ll hate writing because I know the place many of this came from. But it meant something to many.
Every once in a while, we all must acknowledge where we come from; the origins of the tales we tell. Sure we get some intrinsic and existential pleasure from what we do. But it’s never for us, it is our contribution to our proverbial ecosystems and life as a whole. So with that said, some of y’all, don’t take yourself so seriously.