At this time, one month ago. The doors were opened.
“Ms Segarra, It’s five minutes to five. Do you want us to start letting your guests in?….”
“What do you think, Tim?”
“Five minutes, Jean.”
“Okay then, five minutes please….”
The difficulty. The enormity. Today i held your wallet in my hand. Your beaten, well-traveled wallet. Tacky to the touch, it’s dust, dirt and grime that hold it together. It emanates so much of your essence. I held it to my heart. To my throat. To my nose. I inhaled. Oh dear God, another piece of you, gone from my fingers. Gone from my touch. Off you go, in the mail. To Boston. Goodbye again. So many goodbyes. Who understands me? Can I get a witness?
I stood in the bedroom last night. The dim light of the foyer shone through. I have not slept here since I moved back in, almost a month ago. This was supposed to be your room.
“I refuse to bring in my 40th birthday at the circus, Jay….” You told me.
“Come here and live with me. I’ll clear out all that stuff in the studio…”
“This was supposed to be for you… This was supposed to be YOUR room…” I said aloud. My voice echoed a tinny reverb in the dim light of the empty space. And the tears welled up in my eyes. Poured down my cheeks. Who knows this pain? I know some of you do. I know I can’t be alone in these feelings. I washed my face, washed away my tears. But they came again. Warm and salty and uninhibited. I have horrible thoughts in my head. Look at me. I’m 43 years old. A struggling artist. Working-class poor. I own nothing. I have no children. I have no spouse. I only have me. My spirit. My friends. My friends. MY FRIENDS! THEY are my gold. My treasure. My life force. My investment. I created a family for myself. Just as Tchaka did. We understood each other, we understood this need, that sometimes when the families we are born into are just too painful, too complicated, too disappointing, too DISTRACTED…. we create something else. Something that feeds our need. Whatever that need may be. It’s not that we do not love our bio families. It’s just that self-preservation prevails in some of us. And that’s okay. It’s okay to be the director of your own movie, the author of your own book. It’s okay to believe in yourself and make your own way. So for me, this loss is monumental. This is the unrequited love story. I am left here. I am left with a dead brother. And i feel so alone. This house is quiet. He’s not here complaining about “mutha-fuckas”, or laughing hysterically, and I’m not barking at him for dirtying dishes and clogging up the toilet….
I look around this apartment and yes–IN THIS PHYSICAL SPACE–I AM ALONE. I AM SAD. I AM SCARED.
On this day one month ago, my hands shook violently. My dear friend Alex showed up at my place, ready and willing to help. “One step at a time, Sis…. We gonna get through this…” He reassured. “How is this even possible? How does one DO THIS?” I thought. So I chanted in my mind over and over: “I have to be strong, for you Tchak, for Everyone… This day is to honor YOU, my friend, my brother, my love… God Bless us on this journey….”
I wanted to stab myself straight through the heart, join him in heaven. But what good would that do? Nothing. I was so aware of my pain. It was sharp and bright and loud. No way would I deliver this pain onto anyone. I DO have a mother and brother and aunts and uncles and cousins and so very many friends that would be hurt– hurting just like this–if i did something so stupid as to intentionally kill myself. But the darkness creeps into my mind. I’ve always been a little dark. But on that day, when I looked into the many faces of shock and sadness… I was quickly awakened from my morbid daydreams and into the nightmarish reality that was a funeral. A memorial. A tribute. My daydreams were foolishness. These people needed to know that everything was going to be alright. That we are ALL suffering. I tried to speak to every single person who entered that room. Shake their hand, hand a tissue, flash a smile, hug them, rub their shoulder, LISTEN. The honor of one is the honor or all. I’m really trying to walk the walk.
Oh dear Gods, Spirits and Ancestors, please give me–give us–the fortitude. Thank You. Amen and Ashe.
–Your Girl, Cielo.