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