The summer of 2015, my entire family (both in-laws and biological) came to Birmingham for a 4d ultrasound that would reveal the gender of my then unborn son. A few short weeks after the gender reveal, my cousin was murdered. I remember when I received the news that I just couldn’t breathe. I’ve stated before that I didn’t grow up with many of my family. In fact my Aunt D and I her boys were the only family members that we consistently spent holidays, summers and weekends with. He was my little cousin. That day was so chaotic. So many people were coming up and my Aunt got lost; at that time the GPS would take you to some odd place. I tried to give directions, but I am so terrible with directions. It is like one of my fatal flaws. I know landmarks and that’s about it. Well, after some time trying to explain how to get to my house and both sides getting a bit frustrated my aunt decided to turn around and go home. I later found out she turned around 15 minutes from my home. In fifteen minutes had I taken my time she and my cousin would have arrived safely.
I regret that entire situation. I should have been more patient and kind, but I just wasn’t. My cousin was with her and what makes this so odd…he hadn’t come to anything we all had done in a while. I didn’t reach out to him after that either. And then…he was gone.
I did so many things wrong in that scenario. And it literally haunts me a few times a week, because I was so unloving and I really did/do love him. I used to judge him and I used to nag him all the time about his life choices. I remember thinking he should just listen to me I’m older. But loving someone means you accept them and even if they don’t live how “you” think it doesn’t mean you treat them differently. I always wonder if he knew how much he did mean to me. I always wonder what it would have been like to actually tell him good bye. I hadn’t seen him in about two years before then; I was “busy”. I just didn’t make the family trips anymore and I honestly never thought about death. I never thought about someone being snatched away before because until that moment in August…everyone else that had died had at least made it to middle age.. He didn’t even make it out of his teens. I often wonder who he would have become had his life not been stolen. That’s exactly what murder is. A stolen life. An individual stole someone from a family, from a community, from a home. I hate to say that I still occasionally take my time for granted, but since his passing I work harder at it to not become a habit.
I see him a lot in different things and I hear his voice in some of the kids that I work with. I want to so bad tell them to be careful, to know fully that every day is not promised. Sometimes I do…sometimes I don’t it depends on their receptiveness to what I have to say. I don’t want to come across preachy, but I do work so hard for them to know that they matter. Their life, their contributions matter and even if no one in their life has told them this…it is the truth. What is even truer is the responsibility they have to do something with the gifting they have. Do something great. Be something greater. Don’t succumb to all the b.s that can sometimes pile up on you in life. Is it hard to rise above…YES! Are there some circumstances out of their control:YES! But if they can tap into someone who believes in them and stay connected support and love is literally the difference between a life…and a death.
As I reflect on almost 3 decades on this planet… I just wanted to make note of this. Make note of a time when I failed and the cost was immeasurable. Not saying that I could have saved him, but that he mattered just as he was.