Listen to Podcast version, Read it Because I Wrote It, here.
October 22, 2011. A week before, Timile and I said so long to our daughter. Cydney was the first to move from Buffalo to Virginia, Timile a week later, and I the weekend which followed. Before their departure, my mother in-law asked for power of attorney, in the event she needed to make a parental decision while Timile and I were in transport. In an assertive tone, I replied no, the kind which implied “hell no.”
I remember the drive to Virginia. We left Buffalo in the morning, and it was a beautiful autumn day. Our map took Timile and I through the winded highways of the Appalachian Mountains, as we cut through western New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. From our peaks, Timile and I could look down, see whole towns and farms in the valleys, we stopped in rural Pennsylvania for gas (and felt very uncomfortable as black people), and laughed while we talked about it all. While some of our favorite television shows played from our laptop, Timile and I enjoyed one another’s company, while the sun shined and set on the orange, amber, and auburn-colored mountains.
This was the last time Timile and I spent together as ourselves, as a couple. What comes to mind is the adage “cherish the times with loved ones…you never know if it will be your last,” or words which convey some semblance of this message. Without a care of the lives we left behind in Atlanta, Long Island, and now Buffalo; nor the one which lied ahead in Virginia. Timile and I simply existed. There were no talks of kids, cancer, or chemo; like the good ol’ days.
The picturesque fall foliage was perfect allegory. Autumn is a season, one of rapid change. There is beauty in the withering. It begins with a summer feel, we never know which day the weather will break, and cooler days are ahead. Spring may possess pinks, blues, and yellows; but so does fall, and it is done in more dramatic fashion. The person I built a home with had begun to fade, yet there were still bright moments which felt like our summers in Atlanta.
As amorous as the picture I have painted may be, none of this was what made the drive romantic. It was not the laughter to comfort ourselves as we embarked on yet another journey together, or the leaves outside. It was the window of the passenger side of the car.
While Timile and I laughed and talked, we sat in silence most of the trip. Her regiment of pain medicines had her in and out of consciousness; or in need of rest because in retrospect, she began to transition. While Timile I knew floated in and out, her window was rolled down, the whole trip, and I did not say a word.
I tried not to show it; nonetheless, one can hide cold for so long, and Timile knew this. When my reaction to the weather became noticeable, Timile attempted to do what she could, given her needs, and roll the window up a quarter of the way. She said something about it and I told her I was fine.
This was the kind of drive Timile and I took many times. Over the years, we drove to and from New York and Atlanta, many times. I picked her up from Panama City, Florida and the drive through the rural south was an adventure; one which lead to us owning what felt like every Disney VHS ever when we stopped at an Alabama thrift store. From New York to Buffalo, Hampton to Georgia, all along the east coast.
These journeys always became adventures, reflective of where we were as a couple. We had an unofficial agreement to have one long argument on every trip because it helped pass time and we had nowhere to go, so let it out. I do not recall an argument on this last trip. I wished Timile could have talked more because I was tired and needed the company. However, she could not provide, nor did she possess the energy to express her words, and did the best with what she could. I did the same.
In this moment, I am proud of myself. I look at these memories and I am thankful I was able to give this young woman a life worth living, one whose impact extends past her own. She did not get a chance to tell her own story. It is written and exists. She was just the girlfriend of a guy I knew who I tried to be nice to; she was cute but I did not look at her in such a way. When the stars aligned, we gave it a try, as we navigated the ups and downs of young adulthood. We built a life and started a family. Yet here we were, in unknown to us both, would be the last time.
I stayed in Virginia long enough to take a small nap and left in the morning. En route to Buffalo, I made a stop and spent the day in Washington DC, with my good friend Chase. Unbeknownst to both of us, a year later, the next chapter, the beginning of Single Dadventure, would occur in this apartment. We hung out and talked shit. After I left Chase, I spent about a half hour in College Park, conversing with my first college roommate, Mensah.
After I said my goodbyes, I left for Buffalo. I got home with just enough time to change my clothes, then head to work.