Mourning and Name Calling!

For some reason this week I have been visited by and/or reminded of people who passed away over my lifetime.  Their passing was sense-less so it hurt without boundaries or the protection provided by reason.

  1. Sharon was my stepmother and she was shot at my father’s work league basketball game while cheering for him in the stands.  She was 33 years old, a huge sports fanatic, she had big cheeks and my final memory is my 8-year-old self kissing her cheek good-bye at the funeral.
  2. Johnny was my friend from high school who committed suicide when he was a senior.  He was struggling with being successful at a predominantly white high school as a black male and being relevant in a predominantly black neighborhood.  He got caught stealing sneakers at a local retailer and hung himself with his Judo rope; he felt that he had dishonored his family.  A Judo champion on the yearbook staff and student government, a cutie pie, and smart.  He could not have been older than 17.
  3. Brandon was another friend from high school in the same senior class as Johnny.  He was shot breaking up a fight at a football game between two celebrated black schools (neither of which he attended).  He was an athlete, popular, cute, smart, great personality, and just plain nice.
  4. Cassandra, my distant cousin died suddenly alone in her home in her fifties.
  5. Stacy, an elementary school friend died last December.  She was missing for months before they discovered her body in the woods.  Her cause of death was ruled “hypothermia.”  I had reconnected with her and had dinner six months prior to her death.  She was quiet in school and a quiet adult.  She had a beautiful smile.

While I feel I’m in mourning that came over me like a soft blanket, I also feel surrounded by many of my people surrounding me at once.  Daisy and Jack Davis were my older grandparents, both died in their nineties and celebrated a 70 year wedding anniversary.  Dot and Pappy were my younger “sharp-tongued” grandparents both died early of cancer but they sure knew how to Get Crunk! when the occasion required it.  Some I only knew through their words, lyrics, and offerings, but I feel them here with me.  Giving me guidance.  Holding me accountable.  Showing me my path.

ImageNina Simone (Waring Cuney)

“She does not know her beauty.  She thinks her brown body has no glory. If she could dance naked under palm trees, and see her image in the river she would know.”

ImageLangston Hughes

I’ve know rivers.  I’ve know rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.  My soul has grown deep like the rivers….  I’ve known rivers, ancient dusky rivers, my soul has grown deep like the rivers.

 

ImageOctavia Butler

All that you touch, you change.  All that you change, changes you.  The only lasting truth is change, God Is Change.

 

ImageAudre Lorde

Change means growth, and growth can be painful.  But we sharpen self-definition by exposing the self in work and struggle together with those whom we define as different from ourselves, although sharing the same goals.

 

ImageJune Jordan

Freedom is indivisible or it is nothing at all besides sloganeering and temporary shortsighted, and short-lived advancement for a few.  Freedom is indivisible, and either you are working freedom or you are working for the sake of your self-interests and I am working for mine.

I hear these voices talking me through my mourning.  When you are mourning, but can not identify the cause try name-calling and see if doesn’t help just a little.  Name-calling is recognition.  Recognize mourning and be at peace. 

Who are you mourning? Whose name will you call?

sheridf

20 thoughts on “Mourning and Name Calling!

  1. My late wife Desiree Lowe-Johnson lost to Sickle Cell Anemia and a trying pregnancy. Brilliant. Beautiful. Priceless.
    Thank you, Sherifd. Beautiful dedication.

  2. This is timely. Today and tomorrow are los dias de los muertos. A time when we welcome our departed loved ones home and celebrate their lives. Perhaps your folks are visiting along with all of those who are making the long journey from Mictlán…

  3. My friend Blane who died in a house fire on Halloween when we were 21. My friend Mikel who was burned alive by his mother when he was 4.

    Thank you for this post.

  4. My grandmother who smoked herself sick, my grandfather who I was able to watch approach death and died on the day I wore a funeral dress, Paul Chetrit who overdosed, Tom Beidler who we don’t know enough about and my future self dying, meeting my should be mother in law who I fell in love with immediately. Loss hurts so bad sometimes. We just want to deny, even in remembering. As those living death is just another mysterious thing.
    Thank you for remembering.
    Thank you for creating space for others to speak.

  5. Gracious tributes. Some of us (me) need reminding now to pray/meditate for will/courage to give it our all in honor of life itself…especially when (currently) emotionally drained by living folk who just can’t/won’t come along for the joy. This is a refocusing time for my spirit to live bigger/better/intentionally and trust my gifts and have permission to let all the grief go. Besos y abrazos, amiga.

  6. Joie, a childhood friend who passed last summer after being brutally strangled by her significant other. She is survived by her father, mother, and infant son as well as countless aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. Her passing taught me to give people roses while they can smell them. Thanks for the chance to share. Be blessed all.

  7. Thank you for this. Sometimes I feel selfish for still possessing that need to mourn. I’d like to remember Nashay Robbie Woodson, who welcomed me to a new school with open arms and a bright smile. Who skated around our complex with me and made my day on a Friday and passed away on Sunday, just two days after. She taught me the value of letting those who have impacted you know they are appreciated while they are here. I often think of her mother and how she lost her seven year old and her only brother in the same week. I want to honor her, too. I’d like to remember my great grandmother Alberta Elizabeth Reid for teaching me to dream and believe and to never think that there was something that I could not do. She lost her arm due to a hospital mistake that caused gangrene. At five years old, I thought that helping her to exercise the nub would help it grow it back. She let me believe it, because she wanted me to know that I could really do anything I set my mind to. I honor the impact she had on so many in the time that she was here. I honor my grandfather, Norman Smith, with whom I often butted heads, but who showed his love in small ways and encourage me to be as smart and as bright as I could be. Who taught me of Greek mythology and the bible and black authors both while here and in spirit with the amazing collection of books he left behind. Who started to shop at Target just so he could pop in to say hi to me at my first job even though his loyalty very strongly lied with Walmart. And finally, I’d like to remember Kevin A. Reed, a special spirit who taught me the value of the Howard University bond. He touched the lives of any who came in contact with him, even if only for a moment and has impacted friends of mine deeply. That impact though not direct for myself, is still felt strongly. May the rest in peace and may we cherish their memory.

  8. For Malith, one of the sweetest men I know, who died last month of a sudden cancer and for his baby daughter Atong who was in such a rush to meet her daddy that she was born a month premature at home and they had 5 good days together before he was hospitalized and died 2 weeks later.

    For Marcus who died last month as well, the 7 month old son of a young woman I work with, he died in unexpectedly in his sleep while living with his mom in a shelter because her family had kicked her out. I will always remember his laugh and the way he looked at me right before he puked all over me a month before he died.

    Thanks for hearing their names and helping me to carry their stories.

  9. I woke this morning (mourning) to the thought that I had not had time to build an altar for my brother, Greg — who I lost six weeks ago. In some way, it is so fresh that I fill my hours and days with other thoughts so as not to fall in the pit of mourning. Yesterday, I was driving and not thinking about him — or not actively thinking about him — and a song came on the radio. It was a song that I loved as a 13 year old — and that my brother once teased me for loving and at the same time called into the radio station to request for me. For the first time in five weeks, I felt him near.

    So this morning, when I woke with that thought, I felt guilty. Had I really not had time? Or had I just not had courage?

    A friend asked me not too long ago did I feel guilty about something — I haven’t been sleeping well since we lost my brother — and I bristled at his suggestion.

    But, yes, I do feel guilty… I would trade places with him in a heartbeat — his life seems so much more meaningful than mine — and I cannot hope to reach a shadow of his self in the lives of my sister-in-law or my niece or my nephew. Even though I cannot replace him, still I need to love and support them as much as I can — in his honor — if not as he would have.

    But, I am miles and miles and states away from them in my PhD program which seems increasingly irrelevant in my life. So, yes, again, I feel guilty.

    But mostly I feel a terrible emptiness where his life, his love and his support have lived in my life. I am outrageously angry, sad, abandoned and and and…

    Thank you for the space to feel this … I so desperately needed to share.

  10. I woke this morning (mourning) to the thought that I had not had time to build an altar for my brother, Greg — who I lost six weeks ago. In some way, it is so fresh that I fill my hours and days with other thoughts so as not to fall in the pit of mourning. Yesterday, I was driving and not thinking about him — or not actively thinking about him — and a song came on the radio. It was a song that I loved as a 13 year old — and that my brother once teased me for loving and at the same time called into the radio station to request for me. For the first time in five weeks, I felt him near.

    So this morning, when I woke with that thought, I felt guilty. Had I really not had time? Or had I just not had courage?

    A friend asked me not too long ago did I feel guilty about something — I haven’t been sleeping well since we lost my brother — and I bristled at his suggestion.

    But, yes, I do feel guilty… I would trade places with him in a heartbeat — his life seems so much more meaningful than mine — and I cannot hope to reach a shadow of his self in the lives of my sister-in-law or my niece or my nephew. Even though I cannot replace him, still I need to love and support them as much as I can — in his honor — if not as he would have.

    But, I am miles and miles and states away from them in my PhD program which seems increasingly irrelevant in my life. So, yes, again, I feel guilty.

    But mostly I feel a terrible emptiness where his life, his love and his support have lived in my life. I am outrageously angry, sad, abandoned and and and…

    Thank you for the space to feel this … I so desperately needed to share.

  11. Mourning purifies the soul and thoughts of those means their spirit is present. Be honored ancestors peeping in on your prigress. They are our guardian angels working to protect us. Mourning is your peace, deep inside beckoning you to pick up the torch for those who passed. And after you finished…your soul is charged and fired up with your next mission. Go get them Sista-D.

  12. beautiful post. It reminds me of all of the friends and family I have lost over the last few years. Mourning is reflection as well. It doesn’t have to be sad but just celebrating their memory and the impact they had on you. Thanks for sharing:)

  13. Gratitude for this sharing sharidf and all others who are offering of their stories. It is healing to read them. It is healing to cry, which you are all helping me to do. Doing work this year in a spiritual apprenticeship and was given the assignment to study an ancestor of our spiritual lineage. Finally, pushed by this assignment, I cleared out an area in our house to make an ancestor altar. i used to have two altars, one for my big sis and one for my mother, who were shot together while on a hike in washington 6 years ago. They were altars to my grief. Pictures of them holding me as a baby, things they gave me. But now I have moved them to this ancestor altar. The pictures are more them in their own lives and living their purpose. It has impacted my relationship with them hugely, to have them take up their place as ancestors in my gratitude and reverence and asking-for-guidance.
    What is remembered, lives.

  14. Thank you everyone for sharing your stories with us. We need to feel our connection with our ancestors and with one another. Healing through remembrance is what I have learned from you all.

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