A couple of weeks ago, my cousin Tasha passed away at age 26 from diabetes. She had experienced an extended version of long-suffering, as coined by the Bible.
For the past two years and even longer than that, she’d been in and out of the hospital, just sick and suffering from pain. And the doctors would profess over and over, in cycles, “she’s well, she’s stabilized, she can go home or she’s in a coma.” I’m sure they’d used her name, but it’s interpreted as distant language … Because I’d give a kidney for her survival, but the doctors won’t.
My cousin Tasha is the bravest person I’ve ever known. Most women walk around trying to cover up scars they wear, a few scattered blemishes to the face, a birthmark, a silly and foolish tattoo, the perceived ugliness they wear inside and out.
That wasn’t Tasha. No matter the many scars left on her body due to IVs, breathing tubes, needles, etc, she bore them without a cover up. This was her life … These were her scars.
At her funeral, her homegoing (I call it) … I recall lyrics to a a Christian hymn we’d sang growing up in church in New Jersey … “The angels beckon me/oh Lord what shall I do/ because I can’t feel at home in this world anymore” … However out of context, it fits the solemn circumstances … God’s unchanging hand, our startled spirits …
Her brothers and sisters remembered her to be a bubbly spirit who always urged them to make the right decisions, to be proud, to live with integrity. So did I. She was that way, all the time, with everyone.
She loved kids, and all she ever wanted to do was to get well enough to finish school, so that she could become a full time teacher. We talked of her dreams … Of her getting married … Oh! She said I could sing at her wedding which meant everything to me! She knows that I sing, however off key, wrong lyrics and all, when I’m in a good mood.
As children, we shared everything, from toys to households. Her birthdays were mine and mine were hers. My grandparents couldn’t bear buying gifts for just one of us on any single birthday; they’d give to us both. Birthdays came around twice a year until were around 6/7 years old.
Her birthday’s coming up this week, Feb 28. Just in a few days. I can only imagine what my auntie and uncle feel right now as the day approaches … To loose your first born just weeks before her 27th birthday. There are no words.
I had been silent in prayer for a while now … Especially in the last six months. I’d prayed throughout the night, in the car on the drive to work, while working, after lunch, on the drive home, believing she’d be ok, that she’ll make it through. Fortunately, I got to chat with her one day while driving home. That had to be December.
Hearing her voice gave me hope and my prayer was for her to become well enough to live her life as she so desired.
“We cannot disassociate ourselves from this …” The preacher’s words had drawn out. I had suddenly found myself in my very own cloud of thoughts …. Past conversations, “quotes from Tasha,” childhood memories, her stunning beauty, Tasha’s friendship, her willingness to forgive …
Did I forget to mention that Tasha was also a debater, quick-wit, smart, and clever?
When she and I lived together in our adult life, we argued about clothes and vocabulary. For whatever reason, I had not thoroughly learned the words incentive and incite. She taught me … In an argument she notably won. Talk about being pissed. That was just post college graduation, 2006. No matter what we argued about, I don’t remember staying mad at her for long.
“He doesn’t deserve you, Nee Nee, or you know you could do whatever you put your mind to.” I can still hear her voice, distinctly, in my head; however faint, its presence is pronounced, annunciated, and grammatically correct “thank you very much” as she used to say.
Anyway, I ummm …. been spending some sleepless nights … Praying and crying … Sometimes crying until I’m coughing, loosing hours of rest. I don’t know how I make it through each day. I just know that it has to be done … That I must balance both mourning and living.
It helps that my colleagues are practical and sensible folk to work with.
And there’s no crying at work. I cannot fathom breaking down in my cube. Once I hit campus, I’m high off two cups of coffee, and I arrive all smiles …
But as soon as I get home, when the responsibilities have been fulfilled–the dog has been walked, every bill has been paid, I’m exhausted from studying, I’m coached out or blogged out, I’ve solved some “social” problem I might have, answered emails, solved someone else’s problem, and regulated some b.s., I give myself permission to bawl my eyes out in private. And it’s truly a private affair … Some nights commenced at drinking.
And the time I have to mourn is painfully limited … No one knows the hour but me and God.
Yet I know I have until the morning to mourn.
A’las, today, Im called to whisper a “Happy Birthday” and pray that with each passing bornday, Tasha’s granted bigger wings … in her choice of color, of course.
Truly, I know that we’ve all experienced a passing of a loved one. And it’s truly hard to deal with the pain as life goes on. But I hope that you can appreciate my recollection of my dear Tasha, and it inspires you to remember a loved one of your own … In an even more consoling light.