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MOVING FORWARD AFTER THE LOSS OF A PARENT

Editor’s Note: Each post in this series is a personal account of a life changing moment that most people go through, but rarely talk about. t is our hope to show through each post in this series that although life brings us set backs, we are only a few choices away from a major comeback! In part 1 of this series, we look at losing a parent at a young age.

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When I originally sat down to write this I started and stopped about four times. My heart is still very much so mending, so how could I offer up help to those in this situation. For whatever reason being a part of this group wasn’t something I saw for myself, but who does? It’s not as though anyone asks for it. It’s a card that is dealt to us, the old maid, that hard pill that one has to swallow and all that comes with it. Losing a parent is never easy; having one killed is an altogether different story. It’s not as if families can come together to say final goodbyes and prep for the inevitable. That option is out the window and never to be seen again. Everything felt rushed and as life was going on my head and heart felt like it was stuck in mud trying to come to grips with everything that has transpired. It’s only when Friday turns into Saturday, Saturday to Sunday, and so forth do you realize that getting from day to day is somewhat laborious in the beginning but then you realized you made it and here you are.

My father was killed on the West Side of Chicago in May of this year. That was all of five months ago. Feels longer but hey I’ll take it. I rremember getting the news, the calls, texts and Facebook messages that followed. All the news seemed to chip away at the bubble I tried to build for myself in the five-minutes after finding out, to hide from the truth that I won’t be able to see my father on my next visit home, I won’t get the chance to finally ask the questions I longed to ask, I wouldn’t be able to mend our relationship and build it into that perfect father/son relationship I longed to have since I was a kid. I cried of course. I got a good cry in before greeting the world and I believe it was the most therapeutic thing I’ve done to get through it. Deep loud sobs that seemed to make my body shiver, then I heard his voice in my head as though he was next to me. “It’s going to be okay. It has no other choice but to be okay.”

I got out of bed and showered and began to think about how everything will be okay. In the dark I let the water fall and cleanse my body in the hopes of cleansing my heart. I got dressed and sat back down because I couldn’t really do much. My body betrayed me I thought. I lay back down and began to surf the web. I received a link to the local news coverage of the situation and even got to see a video of the report. It looked like a scene I had seen all my life in movies and TV shows when something like this happens. Families gathered outside asking questions and demanding answers that aren’t readily available. I heard a familiar voice in the crowd scream in pain and anguish. For a second I forgot what I was watching and realized that this is my family being captured on the screen. That sense of “It’ll never happen to us” was gone, we were living it, it happened. Before the tears fell again I closed my lap top and began to think about my father and the times we spent together.

I went back to my earliest memories of the man I called Pops. There was happiness, sadness, anger, bitterness, and some resentment. Feeling all those things in a short amount of time is enough to make anyone go a little insane. I knew I had to address these emotions to come to a solid ground with how I truly felt about this situation. I was sad, obviously, for losing my father, he is after all half the reason as to why I’m here. I was mad, very mad actually; it wasn’t until I tried to rationalize why and who I was mad at did everything start to make sense to me. I was angry with my father for things that happened throughout my life and not being there and not being here now. I was angry with the

person who decided to play God and took my father’s life. I was angry with myself mostly because I didn’t put forth the effort I knew I could put forth in building our relationship. Again tears fell. After those emotions settled I had to take a step back to make sure that’s how I truly felt. I had to make sure I was being honest and fair to myself, first and foremost. My father’s claim to existence wasn’t being a father, he was a man first. Who was this man? Who was the man I called Pops? He was born and raised in Chicago, December 9th. If one is to read the horoscopes and see what it says about Sagittarius you would have read up on my father, out spoken, sarcastic, blunt, straight forward, and funny. Raised in Cabrini-Green. My Father had an interesting way of looking at the world. One in which I’m still trying to fully understand.

Being born two hours shy of his birthday I kind of figured I would have some sort of insight into his thought processes and to an extent I did. I looked at myself to understand my father. I looked at all my personality traits the good and the bad. I looked at the things that annoyed me about my father and realized that I embody some of these traits. I learned that I wasn’t upset with personality traits but more so the decisions, but understanding his personality I was able to understand some of the decisions that were made. That doesn’t mean I agree with them at all, I merely understand them and ultimately that’s all that can be done. It was at the funeral that I was able to see I didn’t just lose my father, my brothers and sisters did as well. The people he came in contact lost a friend and mentor. His aunts and uncles were missing a nephew, my nieces and nephews lost their grandfather, his partner lost her companion, all varying degrees of blood ties and mental and emotional connections, but all sharing in the pain of this tragedy.

So after all that, how does one get passed it all and move forward? Short answer, you live. I made a promise to myself that I would do exactly what my father wanted me to do. I will live my life. I know that things will never be the same. I won’t be able to call him to bail me out of stickyLifeSupport-page-001 financial situations, or call to say hi. But I can do what made him proud of me, and that’s being me. Even though we weren’t the closest we had some very real conversations. My parents always instilled in me the importance of following your heart and by doing that they will be happy for me in whatever it is I choose to do. I got to share my joys with my father before leaving Chicago. He got to see me do what I loved most, dance. I channeled my energy into doing that and this past month I got back on stage for the first time in almost a year. It was the first time in a really long time that I moved with a purpose and in doing so I felt alive. I was no longer afraid of doing things without my pops, I’d been doing it. My father was always in my corner. Now he’s in my corner from a different plane of existence. I move forward with that knowledge. My father is still with me, still with my family. There was once a time when I thought that there was a hole in my heart that could never be filled. There was a void yes, but not the one I originally thought. My father isn’t gone from my heart or my memories, he lives there. His love and his energy live through me as I am his seed. I know I am only missing the physical presence of my father and there are times when a phone call home would make it all the better and like clockwork I get a call from my sister or mother or cousin. I learned to cherish those I have with me presently and honor those who have transitioned. It is a task, and one that is very difficult. I’m still learning, still discovering new things about myself and all of it leads me to a better understanding of the one who was taken.

 

National Youth Pride Services,

Chicago, IL 60601

Phone. 773-YPS-8051