Letting Go of His Hand

By the time Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day rolled around last year, the reality of my nephew’s death had just set in. He died on December 9, 2017, of a heart attack. I hold on to the belief that he just never woke up. One of the things that haunt me to this moment is not knowing if he tried to call someone for help. It rattles my soul when I think about the fact that maybe he had awakened in excruciating pain, tried to call his mom or me, but couldn’t. All indications are that he went in his sleep, but I still wonder.

He was only 41 years old and we would learn that the thing that took him from us was the “silent killer”. He had high blood pressure and as it was left untreated, he had an enlarged heart and asthma. I will never believe that he knew he had it. I know that if he did, he would have worked to get and keep it under control.

This is a new year, but…

The year 2018 sucked in some of the most unimaginable ways possible. No one could have told me that I would celebrate a new year without Arthur. My sister had him when I was nine years old. I had held his hand every day, if not always physically, of his life. We were raised as brother and sister. I never imagined life without him. I am still in a fog most days, but one day, as I drove by his home on my way in from work, I had a revelation. It may not be a revelation in some people’s books, but for me it was.

You see, my mourning hasn’t been the typical mourning. Not long after Arthur’s death, a co-worker happened to be in my office and after a brief discussion about my nephew, the guy said, “Trease, I don’t mean any disrespect and I don’t want to make you mad, but I really don’t think you’ve accepted that Arthur is gone. I think you’re in denial.” I just stared at him. I mentioned it to my sister a few days later and she vigorously nodded her head. I just stared at her, too. I know he’s gone, but in my mind, he’s just on the porch of his home.

The calendar says it’s January 1, 2019. To be honest, I don’t know what day it is. I don’t really know what date it is. The calendar says it’s January 1, 2019. Yes, I’ve wished a gazillion people a happy new year. Part of the reason I don’t know is because, well, I’m confused because I’ve been off work for so many days…

Photo credit: Facebook/HurrahForGin

The biggest part of the reason I don’t know what day/date it is, is because even though I’m coming more to terms with his death, I haven’t let go of his hand. Y’all, there has never been a time when I didn’t know where he was. Even now, with the knowledge that his body lies in St. Peter Missionary Baptist Church’s tiny cemetery, I still don’t know where he is. I know some of you are probably scratching your heads wondering what I mean; I know there are more of you who get what I’m saying.

His favorite thing after a long day at (or night) work was sitting on his porch, with a Black & Mild, some [homemade] peach vodka (yeah, he made his own with peach soda and vodka), his chopped and screwed music, and that phone. In my mind, he’s still sitting on that porch. I can’t see him, but that’s where he is in my mind.

I guess in a way, I feel a twinge of guilt pressing on in this new year without him. I know God makes no mistakes; yes, I know we’re all here for a limited number of days, but I feel a little guilty pressing forward and moving on without him. I know I have to move on because there are still things I must do. His purpose here on earth was complete. He touched so many people in such great ways. My purpose still needs work. I still have a book or two to write. I have classes to teach. I have clients to take care in the world of disability. I have to graduate in May. I am to be a part of an epic love affair. I still have a happily ever after to participate in. I just wish he was here to witness it all. I wish he was here to witness it all.

Photo credit: Trease Shine Hinton

I just have to let go of his hand. I’m just not ready to.

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11.26.76 ^-^-^-^———–12.09.17

I don’t know the exact time that my sister gave birth to him on November 26, 1976, nor do I know the exact time that my nephew, Arthur James Wade, Jr., drew his last breath on December 9, 2017, but I can tell y’all about the dash – the 41 years and 13 days – that he walked this planet. That dash between his sunrise and sunset can be divided into four segments — one for each decade of his life.

There’s an old saying that you live your funeral every day. Arthur’s funeral, which was held on December 17, 2017, in the tiny town of Sarepta, Louisiana, was a testament to the impact he had on people. Friends and family came from afar to bid him adieu and to hold us during our hour of bereavement. There were just as many from the community who refused to let go of our hands during that time.

The life he lived during those 14,988 days was not only represented by the number of people who attended the services but also by the air of grief in the sanctuary. He was loved. He was deeply loved.

1976 – 1986

As a child, Arthur was mischievous. He wasn’t an extreme mischief, because, for the first few years of his life, he was sickly, but he got into his share of mess. Just like many families in the country, there were plenty of guns around our childhood home. We knew not to handle them, but one day, Mr. Wade defied the odds and did just that. He had seen Daddy and Mama fire that shotgun plenty of times so he knew the stance and he knew how to aim it. Well, one day, when he was around 9-years old, he fired it.

Mama was outside doing the laundry and Daddy was working on the yard, but the minute they heard that shot, they flew into the house. As Mama was entering the back door, Arthur was trucking, trying to fly through it. He ran smack into her. By that time, Daddy had made it into the kitchen and they were all panicked. Mama screamed, “Who shot that gun??” Arthur, knowing he was in major trouble, looked her straight in the eye and said, “Daddy!” He didn’t get in trouble because they were too busy laughing at him, but you get the gist of the kind of kid he was. That spirit is what so many loved about him.

1987 – 1997

He enjoyed his school years. Despite race issues in this area, he was loved by pretty much everybody. He enjoyed extracurricular activities just as much as the next kid and was blessed with many true friendships, regardless of race, creed, or color. The community as a whole loved him. 

It was also during this decade that he went away to college and was blessed with even more friendships through his fraternity and otherwise. His Greek brothers and sisters were one of the greatest sources of support for us, his natural family, after his passing. It was without hesitation that Dave Johnson, moved when I asked that he and the brothers be pallbearers for him. It was without hesitation that they were present. I am ever grateful for their love. 

1998 – 2007

He struggled to find his position during this time. He found himself unemployed at times during this decade and he was frustrated. He was able to weed out his true friends. He finally knew who they were and so did we.

It is no secret that he ended up in trouble during this time, but it was also a time of reckoning with his inner man. In 2001, he came to live with me in Denver. He witnessed some of the abuse that I sustained during that time and it was then that I saw the man he had become. He was no longer the little boy whose hand I held everywhere we went. He became my protector. He had always told people I was his guardian angel. He was also mine. He had to leave Denver and ended up back in Louisiana, but that blessing in disguise would be just what he needed to become the man he needed to be. He would be Mama’s caregiver while the rest of us were away.

2008 – 2017 

He had finally found himself during the last years of his life. He had steady employment and was living on his own. More importantly, he had turned himself around enough to become a mentor to his younger cousins. He was determined that they not travel the same path that he did. He didn’t want any of them to go to jail. I have no shame in saying he’d ended up there more than once because of really stupid stuff. He made certain, though, that they were straight. He refused to let any of them fall or fail. 

Carrying On

I’m 51 years old and know that we all have a set number of days on this planet. No one could have told me that my love, my heart, Arthur, would leave us so early. In all honesty, I am still not in full belief that he is gone. A friend put it best when he said it was like Arthur just walked out the back door and didn’t come back. I know he’s gone, I know I’ll never hear his voice again. With all that “knowing”, I’m still not in full belief that he is gone.

With all that said, I also say happy birthday to my right hand. I say that I love him in the present tense because death does not stop the love between persons. I cannot hug him. I cannot call him. I cannot text him. I can, however, send my love to his heart.

But You Couldn’t Stop Me, Could You?

Fifty-one years ago today, shortly after 2:00 A.M., Mama gave birth to me. There was no pomp and circumstance, she simply gave birth to a 5-pound baby girl and was released to go home by 7:30 A.M. that same morning.

I was welcomed home by my older siblings, the youngest of whom was 11. My oldest brother was away in San Francisco with his own family. I have two nieces who are older than I am. My sister, Margaret, had already told Mama to name me Trease. I have no middle name. I was never babied. I was spoiled, but I was never babied. Most people who know me say that I’ve always been grown. I have an old spirit.

The past 51 years have carried one lesson after another for me in a constant fashion. I know when some of you heard that, you said, “Yeah, we’ve all learned lessons over our lifetimes.” For the most part that’s true. I say for the most part because in some cases, people don’t learn anything from their experiences. They continue to make the same mistakes. They grind their gears and they spin their wheels.

Here is some knowledge I picked up along the way:

  • In almost all cases, you get one chance to make an entrance. You get one chance to make a first impression. If you storm through any door in a destructive manner, reeking chaos, disrupting the good, folks won’t forget. Even though we’re supposed to, most folks won’t forgive either. Be mindful of what you do when you enter another’s space.
  • Your exit is probably more important than your entrance. I really can’t think of a reason to leave a situation in shambles. Why? Because to do so means that another person has gotten under your skin so deeply and has disrupted your psyche so much that you became someone you’re probably not. Don’t get it twisted — I’ve left material damages in some places that were so bad I should have been charged with the highest level of vandalism. It was bad and it was stupid. I let someone who had mistreated me take me to another level. I’m not coming at you in a “holier than thou” manner. Just don’t allow another person to take you out of character. What I think makes a  more profound statement is to simply take your ball and go home. You don’t even have to provide an explanation or say goodbye. Just go and be at peace.
  • Be extra-possessive of your time. Time is a precious commodity. We don’t have as much of it as we think. Don’t waste it on people who don’t love you fiercely, on a job that you hate, or in a situation that you don’t want to be in. Do life big!
  • Let no man or woman take you for granted. This is a lesson I learned the hard way. My presence — my whole being — was taken for granted by someone I thought valued me. Turns out, he is the most selfish individual on the face of this or any other planet. Lesson learned. The wrong people will take your love for granted. Take it back and give it to someone who deserves it. You’re so amazing. You’re such a blessing. If a man or woman can’t see that – GO! Plain and simple, just go!
  • Love your folks without condition. I’m grateful to see this day, I really am, but I would be lying if I said my heart is not filled with grief this morning. It has been nearly 11 months since my nephew passed away suddenly. The void his death has left in our lives is massive. Cherish your people. Loss is inevitable. Cherish your people.

I’m going to end this by saying that all those things that were designed to stop me from living my best life have failed. An abusive marriage, an aneurysm, unemployment, a devastating breakup — all those things wore on me, but here I am. None of those things stopped me. Nothing will. Trust that. The decision to live is yours. The kind of life you live is up to you. Let nothing stop you from having it all and from being it all. It’s up to you.

Hello?

Things have been crazier than usual. Living in my world has been like riding a tremendous tailwind through the eye of a hurricane after being tossed around by a typhoon.

My life continues to be tilted because of my nephew’s death, but I’ve taken the steps I need to in order to get back on track. Grief is a bully and it’s staunch in its efforts to drag you under. I hate that its taken such a hold of me, but I’m fighting back. I can tell y’all this — the death of a person you’re extremely close to is not one you get over, but at some point, you’ll make it through. I’m getting there. I visited his gravesite for the first time since he’s been gone. I went on Memorial Day and it was surreal. In some ways, I think it was still too early, but I’m okay. Seeing his name on that tombstone was just…

Photo credit: Trease Shine Hinton

I’m getting myself back on schedule, but know that mourning has a way of disrupting not only your calendar, it’ll destroy your very being. I’m doing my best to get back to blogging and writing consistently, and living a good life. It’s so hard. It’s no longer about taking one day at a time for me; sometimes I strive to make it one hour at a time.

Over the past few months, I’ve had to let go of a relationship that was so toxic, it was slowly draining the life out of me. The person that I finally released from my life (for good, forever, for real) should have been a source of peace and relief; instead, he only added to my pain and grief. He was deliberate in his decision to include me in his life knowing full well there was no room for me there. He claimed an addiction to me, one that has been around for nearly 30 years. There may well be one, but what I refused to be was his 50-year old side chick. Nah.

Be careful who you let in. Selfishness is a bitch and I finally accepted the fact that I have no room in my life for anyone who is only around for selfish gain. Was it hard to let go? Yes and no. Yes, because we’ve known each other our whole lives. I once considered him my soulmate. I loved him with everything I had. He didn’t appreciate it. Therein lies the “no”. He wasn’t always an ass, but he allowed himself to be morphed into, well, an ass.

I think the poorest excuse a person can have for being bitter, angry, or any other selfish thing is that someone made them that way. No, that’s not true. You control who you are. You control how you react. After a bad relationship is over, it’s up to you to become a better person in spite of the pain. You don’t have to become the person who hurt you. I refuse to become jaded because of my past relationships. Just because they were stupid doesn’t mean that the next man will be. I will always believe in true love. I will always believe that I deserve it.

I’ve made some final decisions as to where I plan to live. I’ve also made some other decisions that require me to spread my wings and fly. It’s time to make a move.

I’m coming back, y’all. I’m coming back.

How Much Can You Handle?

My tolerance for pain is different from yours. Yours is different from the person’s you sit next to on the train. That person’s tolerance for pain is different from the person in the cubicle next to his at work.

 

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Photo credit: Photo by Rodolfo Clix from Pexels

 

We’re all susceptible to pain — physical, mental, and emotional — and how we decide to deal with those things is just as different from person to person as the actual levels of pain we experience.

The Physical

Before July 21, 2009, I thought I had experienced the worst physical pain imaginable. At 4:53 AM on July 26, 1995, my son was came barreling through into this world and my body was traumatized, I shook. The pain was so intense, I couldn’t hold my baby for several minutes after he was born.  As the saying goes, though, I forgot every single second of the pain I’d endured over the previous 36 hours when I saw my little bundle of joy. I would be reminded of everything I went through when it was time for me to use the restroom for the first time after giving birth, but that’s neither here nor there.

 

Will at 7 weeks
Photo credit: Trease Shine Hinton

 

The next most excruciating level of pain I would experience came when I had to have emergency surgery to remove my gallbladder. Anyone who’s ever had a gallstone knows the pain I speak of. Well, magnify that by at least 200 and you’ll know what I went through in April 2008. The doctors and nurses asked a million times how I had been able to function with that much pain. I couldn’t answer them. To this day, I still don’t know.

Those two experiences pale in comparison to what I felt on July 21, 2009. Y’all know the story about the aneurysm so I won’t go into it, but let me just say that I would rather give birth to my 6′ tall son at his current weight of 232 pounds than to be hit with that level pain ever again.

I can handle physical pain.

The Mental and Emotional

A large part of my story involves the mental abuse I sustained and lived through over those 19 years of marriage. The belittling, the lying, the constant put-downs, being told that I was worthless, hearing him tell others he made the biggest mistake ever by marrying me, being disrespected on a consistent basis — those things finally took root in my subconscious and set up home.

One day, I started to believe that I was too much trouble. I began to believe that I wasn’t smart. I believed that I couldn’t make it on my own. He had me just where he wanted me. That level of control is reserved for abusers. Believe that.

 

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Photo credit: www. pexels.com

Then One Day…

 

…I woke up. I had to. I had to draw on the strength of the woman I was before the mental, emotional, and verbal abuse overtook me and swallowed all of me.

I also had to form an image of the woman I wanted to be in the future in order to have something to strive for. It’s taken me a minute to get there, but I am so happy to say, I’ve made tremendous strides.

I filed to register my writing business with the state of Louisiana on June 22. It became an official L.L.C. on June 25. I am working on the website now and building my portfolio. I’ve been writing for a very long time; it’s time for me to share my knowledge with the world. For the first time in my 50 years on the earth, I will do what I love to do and that’s put pen to paper.

The Moral of the Story?

Whatever the cause of your pain, use the experience to grow. The worst thing a person can do is allow the pain they feel to consume them and cause them to hurt any- and everyone that crosses their path. To hurt another person because you’re hurt is the ultimate expression of immaturity. It’s out-and-out childish.

Getting hurt is nothing new nor is it unusual. It can happen. It likely will happen. Be a grown-up about the thing and go somewhere and heal. Don’t spread that pain. Take the time you need to fix you. Don’t destroy the lives of others because someone did you wrong.

No one has time to deal with a hurt person who’s out to hurt others.