The End of an Era

My life as I know it will never be the same. Back in April 2020, I decided I would write about my quarantine experience every month. However, I haven’t written since November because life…The last three months of my life have changed me. Here’s how: 

November 2020

I moved out on my own. I watched an ungodly amount of HGTV and spent hours upon hours on the websites of Amazon, Ikea, Wayfair, Ashley Furniture, and more, searching for decor inspiration. I also consumed The Home Edit on Netflix for organizational ideas. My dad was a huge cheerleader in me leaving the nest. He took me furniture shopping and is the reason I have the blue couch in my living room. It was an adjustment. Living alone is lonely, there’s a lot of quiet time, but it’s also liberating. I can light candles, without someone telling me to be careful; I can delay washing dishes, without someone insisting that I should;  I can even dance like no-one is watching, because no one is watching; I am alone. It’s lonely. I sometimes miss my family but  It is such a powerful thing to live solo and I urge people to do so at least once in their life. While I do get scared (I am the ultimate scaredy cat), I enjoy it and I am emboldened by this independence. I can check moving out off my goals list. 

November 2020-February 2021

Cancer is a horrific disease. I’ve heard my mom use the word demonic when describing it, and yet, my dad and another close family member who does not want to be disclosed, suffers/suffered from it. From November to January, my dad was in and out of Mount Sinai Hospital. My mom was the primary caregiver. She was by his side every single day. I saw the brokenness in her face. The tiredness. The faith. In my dad, I saw the pain. The suffering. The faith. I come from a family of faith. We believe in Jesus Christ the healer, the provider, and the savior. Not once did the faith of my family ever waiver. 

I struggled. I struggled with ambivalence. With fear. With anxiety. I didn’t want to see how bad it was really getting. How skinny he was getting. His mind going. His pain intensifying. Yet and still, I had faith. I truly believed God would bring him through. Maybe I used my faith as a distractor or a coping mechanism, but I needed to believe he would make it. Maybe that’s why I was able to compartmentalize. 

The beeping of the hospital reign loud in my head. Sometimes I miss it because it represents him still being there, still fighting. I can lay on his stomach and hear it go up and down and know he’s still on this earth. I can hold his hands and feel the warmth of it’s embrace around my own. I remember, on MLK day, I fell down the train station stairs on the way to the hospital and as I was telling the nurse, my dad awoke from his nap and said “My daughter is so clumsy.” He laughed and it felt good to know that he understood me even in such a vulnerable moment. The following weekend, my dad as I knew him would never be the same. While in the ICU, I remember looking up at the board that showcases the age and condition for everyone in the unit; ages ranging from 44-99. I remember thinking to myself, he’s the second youngest here and you’re going to take him God? He’s only 57. But life is so randomized. There are people who live to 109 and people who live for 9-hours. You just never know. The term life is short hits different now.

On February 3rd at 11:17 PM, my dad passed away with a smile on his face. He was surrounded by love – we were with him until the very end. We let him listen to his favorite songs, both oldies and gospel. One of my best friends stayed on the phone with me throughout. I consider the smile he left us as a gift. While I am sure he saw his loved ones on the other side including his mother, sister, and our dog Charlie, I feel blessed to know that he was happy. His smile was bright. His teeth were showing. I immediately had peace. We all did. 

My dad was a creative. He was the first insight I had into an entrepreneur. He lived and breathed media and production. He was a content creator. He walked around with a camera bag when he had to do shoots. He was self-taught. He was the king of corny dad jokes. He loved when people made assumptions about him so he could prove them wrong. Most times he did. Sometimes he didn’t. He was the Tenant Association President for my former apartment building. During the pandemic he did so many amazing things for the community including free groceries for seniors. He was kind. He was a mentor. Many people considered him a father figure. He was multifaceted. He was complex. That’s what made him so unique. 

In the last three months I moved out, lost my dad to Stage 4 Cancer, helped plan a funeral for the first time, and took almost a month off from a very high pressure job to process it all. But I now know that on the other side of all of this pain, grief, and loss is a breakthrough. God has given my family supernatural strength to handle this situation and I plan to heal and come out on the other side better than ever before because my dad would not have it any other way. 

Six Months in Quarantine and Life

September makes 6 months since we have been quarantined; 6 whole months and after all of this time I am grateful for life. With learning that over 200,000 Americans passed away from COVID-19, how can you not value life? Life is so precious. We get to wake up every morning, sometimes with the sun shining on our face exuding its luxurious energy on us. We have choices with what we do and how we live our lives. The choice to live, the choice to love, the choice to create, the choice to reflect, the choice to give back, the choice to withhold, choices. Even constrained within my apartment, I choose to live, to write, to think, to take up space, to pray, to read, to love…I choose.

This month work became a priority. I was preparing for a major event that my company hosts which further pushes Inclusion for our employees. For those that don’t know I am a Diversity and Inclusion Manager. I’ve been doing this work for 4-years and I love every second of it. While this project has stretched me in many areas and kept me up all hours of the night, I have really grown professionally from this experience. Something that I am really proud of was being able to produce an event with the creator of the 1619 Project, Nikole Hannah-Jones and contributor, Linda Villarosa. Being able to amplify their voices, when so many are trying to tear them down was beyond powerful. One of the best parts of the production was a slideshow that we worked on illustrating some of the contributions of Blacks in America over the Black Parade track by Beyoncé.

In preparation for this major undertaking at work, I had to read some books chileeee. This month, I read:

  • Before the Mayflower by Lerone Bennett Jr.
  • White Fragility by Dr. Robin DiAngelo
  • Clap Before You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

I did go crazy and bought some new books too. I have issues. Here’s the amazing stack of books I plan to get through at some point. I say I have issues because I have all of these books and still somehow find an excuse to buy more, how is that possible?

Since I’ve been studying, researching, and reading, I honestly have not had time to do a deep dive into my TV world but what I will say about my TV journey this month is that it’s quality over quantity. I started watching I May Destroy You and I am left speechless. I have one more episode left and I will not watch it because I don’t want the series to end. I feel triggered. It makes me cry. It makes me laugh, it makes me feel seen but I am triggered and that’s all I care to say about that. CONSENT is such a powerful thing and I am so happy that Michaela Coel exists. I also finished the series Younger. Younger follows the journey of white women in publishing with one character who lies about her age to break into the industry. I was a huge fan of the show in the beginning but I think the storyline has exhausted all possibilities. I also think there’s a huge erasure of race and people of color on this show, which became stark as the seasons went on. I found myself focusing on opportunities where they could’ve casted a BIPOC actor and somehow did not. I plan on doing a deep dive on this in the future.

Summer came and went. It was the first summer; I really didn’t spend much time basking in the sun or going to a beach or doing anything like that. I was actually hella stressed this month. Out of that stress came a lot of things. One, I cut my hair. I am not 100% sure if my hair falls out as a result of stress…maybe. But it has been damaged for almost a year now and I just didn’t think there was anything left to do to it besides cut it, so that’s what I did and I think it came out amazing. After a week of begging, my boyfriend helped me shave the back off. Now that I am on my new hair journey, I wish I could report to you that my skin journey is going well but it’s still a hot mess. My skin has not changed since quarantine. I still have acne and dark spots and may have to go to a dermatologist.  

My boyfriend noticed how stressed I was and took me on an amazing date day. We went to the Sunflower farm in Long Island but unfortunately all of the sunflowers were dead. After that, we went to Lift/Next Level Floats, where for one-hour we left our cares at the door and floated in tons of salt water.

In other news, Breonna Taylor’s murderers got off scot-free when the grand jury charged only one officer with endangering the neighbors and their wall. No one was charged with the death of Breonna Taylor. How much more can we take? It’s painful. Really painful and this is only the beginning. In my personal education and learnings of race, I know I shouldn’t be surprised that America places more value on a wall than a black woman and yet, I am because it sounds so ludicrous, that America places so little value on life and the life of a black woman. Shame on the systems that uphold racism and white supremacy. Shame on it all. I want to remind each and every one of you to VOTE! Vote like your life depended on it because it does. That first debate enraged my soul. It was so horrifying to reckon that this is who Americans have elected as their President. Racism is wild. Continue to educate yourself on the racial history of the United States. Read books. Read Articles. Listen to Podcasts. Do the work.  It’s so important to do so.

Finally, Trader Joes has an amazing salad kit that I am obsessed with Broccoli and Kale Salad, yum. Sometimes I add shrimp to it, but it’s perfectly fine without. This is the perfect refreshing treat to jumpstart your fall in a healthy way.

Until next month…

The Wilderness: June/July Depression

The month of June triggered a depression in me that I have been trying to shake since the death of my dog, Charlie. I had all of the classic symptoms, not eating, not sleeping, not being as productive as I could, always crying, yet I was still functional. It wasn’t healthy and to be honest if it wasn’t for my praying mother, I probably would still be in that space.

Charlie was family. He showed unconditional love towards me. Out of everyone in the family, I think I was his favorite. We had kindred spirits and I miss him every single day. He rarely got mad at me, unless I tried to bother him while eating and after he snapped at me that one time, I never did it again (he also eventually apologized for snapping by licking my leg). I was the only person he let brush his teeth and I miss his sweet kisses and expressions of love. What I yearn for most, is hearing his knock on my door. When he was at my door and it was closed, he would stand up, scratch it, I would open the door and he would come in and give me a hug before being a brat and wanting to come on my bed (or maybe I wanted him on my bed). If I wasn’t there or took too long to open my door, he would sometimes wait for me at the door. The loss of Charlie, man oh man, it has been so hard.

But what I also realized, is Charlie’s death wasn’t the only thing that spiraled me into a depression. I had been hoarding a lot of feelings internally and not processing all of the things that were happening to me and changing in my life. I was just moving. Going fast, being busy, and not taking the time to be still.

Be still. It’s such an important lesson that God tries to teach us. I love in the bible when people end up in the wilderness. The wilderness sounds like such a scary place, filled with loneliness, solitude, and even darkness, but it’s not. It’s a powerful place that’s preparing you for the time when you come out of the wilderness and the powerhouse that you will be. It’s a time when even though it seems like you’re all alone, GOD is right there with you, talking to you, whispering in your ear and he’s the most important voice you need to hear. That’s how I am viewing this very moment in my life. The wilderness.

While in this wilderness, I am going to take time to practice radical self-care and focus on me. I am going to set boundaries. I am going to process the things I have not been dealing with. I am going to learn how to pray more. I am going to learn how to pray for others (it’s not all about me). I am going to therapy. I am going to disrupt to rebuild. I am going to say no a lot. I may also say yes. I am going to do whatever gets me back to a strong foundation.

As I mentioned earlier, if it wasn’t for a praying mama, I would still be in my funk and not have this much clarity. Some of the other things I watched were sermons. One sermon, gave me permission to have the same feelings towards God as Habakkuk did in the bible. Another sermon, emboldened me for the change that’s coming around the corner. Sharing all of the sermons that moved me below:

Sometimes God Makes Me Really Angry – Pastor Tim Dilena

Bible Project Overview: Habakkuk – Bible Project Makes the bible digestible

How To Get Your Fight Back – Bishop T.D. Jakes

Desperate for Jesus Conference Day 2

While this is an insane, uncertain time for everyone, I encourage you to find the silver lining. I will do the same.

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