Efflictim – EFFLIGO latin adv., to death, desperately.

Kid Cudi wonders what life would be like for the people who find out that he committed suicide during his bout with depression. Death plagues my mind often. As cynical as it may seem I have grown comfortable with the idea of death. What most would conceive as suicidal thoughts is really an appreciation of the inevitable. I’m by no means ready to die but trepidations on the matter are little to none. It is those fears that stop people from living in the present. I do frequently wonder if I will be remembered how I want to be, how life will be for those who need me and if I’ll leave a worthy legacy.

My wrestling with death begun early, one sunny morning in Yonkers, NY.

The sun beamed on my face as a dark cloud secretly hovered itself over my family that morning when my grandmother passed away in her sleep from cardiac arrest. When they tell you kids have the capacity to understand more than we give them credit for, believe it! I knew something was awry that morning when my cousin and I rose from the bed and were ordered to stay in our room. My uncle was shouting at someone on the phone “She won’t chew the bread” and my aunt ran passed our door into the bathroom to hurl. Nothing registered as I jumped up and down on the bed until that moment I saw my grandmother being rolled down the porch stairs on a gurney and the EMT pumping on her chest. Of course, then I did not know the scientific factors of what had taken place but I did know that the scope of my life was about to change because I never saw my grandmother sleep or leave the house other than on her own two feet. She was always up before me, cooking, cleaning or off to work but not on that day. It was in that moment that I watched my heroes become human.

I lost my companion. The woman who made me separate dinners because I was a picky eater, who reminded me that I should act like a lady while the boys were out being rowdy and reckless and who let me style her hair like the ladies on I saw on TV. My memory after peering out the window is spotty but my entire family flew to Jamaica to bury our matriarch. Somehow I remember vividly pretending to sleep in the arms of my mother’s boyfriend after watching my uncle breakdown placing his rosary beads on his mother’s rigor mortis stiffened neck. Without anyone having to explain it to me at four death planted its bittersweet kiss on my cheek.

Twenty odd years later, I do not remember my grandmother much aside from fuzzy memories here and there and little mementos that I still have. I do remember feeling the difference in emotion once I lost her presence and having to learn to deal with that unintentional void. It is that early experience that has much to do with my constant visions of death. For a long time, I refused to believe people just went away. At funerals, I would never go up to caskets  to pay my final respects. Daddy issues aside, I had a hard time saying goodbye because I never said farewell to my lady. I may not remember her but I have found peace in seeing shared features in our faces when I stumble across old photos and when the moodiness of my personality pings someone to say, ‘You’re just like your grandmother.”

The biggest lesson I have learned in death: Be passionate enough in life to leave smiles on the faces of the people you share it with – even the ones who decide to walk out of it before your time is up.

R.I.P Fay Bates (1941 – 1992)

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