The Fragility of Life

“Come celebrate
with me that every day
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.”
– Lucille Clifton

Last week, Saturday, October 3, 2020, I buried my mother.

On Tuesday, September 22nd, we learned she might night make it. That night I spent the night in the basement on the couch watching Grey’s Anatomy episodes with a glass of wine. I couldn’t sleep, but you will inevitably fall asleep on the sofa when you are downstairs in my house. We’ve had the couch for a while, and it has claimed many victims who promised themselves it was not comfortable enough to tame them. What also happens is I lose service down there, and while I drifted, my phone rang and rang, but I couldn’t hear it.

Finally, I went upstairs, and my phone rang again. My heart dropped. There is only one reason people call that early. I accepted my sister’s call and asked, “why are you calling me so early?,” although I already knew the answer.

“It was the twenty-third of September. That day I’ll always remember, yes I will
Cause that was the day that my mama died”

The next day, September 24th my aunt, my late dad’s sister, also passed.

Photo by Irina Iriser on Unsplash

I didn’t talk about it, but my Uncle John passed earlier this year on May 28th, two days after my birthday, and on June 2nd, a dear friend and brother passed.

The world also lost Kobe Bryant, Chadwick Boseman, and Thomas Jefferson Byrd, known best for his role as Luther from Set It Off. He passed the day we buried my mother.

I need no more reminders of how fragile life is, and that’s what sticks out to me the most in my time of silence as I seek to process all this death.

I think we are all aware of this delicacy that is life, but it becomes much more real when a loved one passes. It is then that we realize how insignificant we are and precious too. The insignificance is the weakness of our flesh; how it so easily topples and breaks down. The preciousness is the breath of life, without which we are lumps of clay.

It made me think about how we treat each other. It wasn’t until Yah breathed into Adam the breath of life that he became a living being. We are nothing without this power, and yet, we treat each other as if the breath pulsing through our veins differs from someone else’s. We treat each other as if the Almighty can’t call our spirit back at any moment.

What right do I have to mistreat someone when I return to the Earth just as they will? What right do I have to judge someone’s life or mock their pain when I know that I bleed just as they do?

What right does any of us have to think we are better than anyone else when the sun rises and falls on all of us, righteous and wicked, alike?

There are so many promises we make to one another at times, such as this. We promise to be there for one another, we promise to keep in touch, and we promise to appreciate the time we have.

But these promises do not last and are only remembered at the next funeral.

Our life is like the wind, a breeze that comes and goes. How I wish we could be consciously aware of our own lives’ fragility as we live and not only in death.


Don’t forget to grab your copy of My Soul is a Witness and leave a review as reviews help to expose the work of Independent Artists.

To Lose a Friend

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From crayons

To paper

To dreams

To memory.

We tied our wanting into a bow

And placed it on each other’s laps

Where neither trial

Nor thunderstorm

Could wash away our fairy tale.

Did not occur to us that neither plastic bags

Nor happiness

And not even the future was strong enough

To hold us.

We were brave.

We were warriors.

We were safe in each others ears

Promises to each others secrets

No one could tell us any different.

Calendars did not lend us its eyes

Did not carve reality into the sticky notes we placed

On our destiny’s

We merely rode on the backs of memories

We created out of air

That smelled of hope

And lullabies

That felt like oxygen to lung

Breath to life

Truth to wisdom

But that bled deception underneath the surface

Of blue lines

On white paper.

That smelled of jasmine

Now shattering glass

Hopelessly pasted together

Encoding our hearts in one anothers chest

We opened up

Fearlessly vulnerable.

Stored our futures away

With the ease of speech

Letting them hide behind our eyelids

Trapping falling tears into bottles for fear

Of losing sight of the other

Amidst the blurs it birthed

When doubt crept in.

And we held onto these bottles

Like we babysat the others gaze

Too naïve to understand

That there were no guarantees

That we must not put our hopes into fallen stars

And wishing wells

For now we bleed

Both apology and need

For our broken wings

Pierced diamonds

Both myth and martyr alike

Legend to sacrifice

Do you know what it’s like to feel every twist

And turn

Of a dying bow?

To be undone?

Shackled to the worst part of your life story

Prisoners to the memories you created

In each others smiles

Now dangling regret

In the sky.

A Lifetime

“Lifetime relationships are a bit more difficult to let go of. When a parent, child, or spouse is involved, the wounds are very deep. When the end of a lifetime relationship comes, you may feel that you would be better off dead. The pain seems to grow, the memories linger, a part of your life is dying. You relive every painful moment in an attempt to understand. Your job is not to understand. Your job is to accept. Lifetime relationships  teach you lifetime lessons; those things you must  build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. They are the most difficult lessons to learn, the most painful to accept; yet these are the things you need in order to grow. When you are facing a separation of the end of a lifetime relationship, the key is to find the lesson; love the person anyway; move on and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships. A new life begins when a part of life ends.”- Jasheem Wilson

I’m Sorry

death
it’s sting
produces a humility powerful enough

to find itself a home
even inside the heart of the one

who holds the cup of “I’m sorry’s”
hoping their voice is sad enough

to produce the kind of sympathy
that peels back the brick

that found itself a place

inside the gut of the bereaved
the lump
waiting inside their throats
is this “I’m Sorry” strong enough?
“I’m sorry”
makes me feel guilty
because I know that it is not enough,

in fact
it almost sounds cliché
how can this routine “I’m sorry”

ever guarantee the sincere apology I feel
for the woman
who lost her husband in the hands of doctors

with spines like jellyfish,
the inconsiderate “I’m sorry”

floating out the window of the hospital,
where his breath left it’s good bye on the table

without warning
didn’t want to wake her sleeping gorgeous
so he left in the middle of the night
just to see her smile one last time
for he knew that she would smile

in her dreams

Or the man
who lost his brother with the split of atoms
like storms breaking through to the clouds
like a mother’s arms spread wide enough

to capture his smiles in a bowl

but aint no rainbows today
cause grief
it convinces us that the world

has ceased existing
and molds its rotations to the contours of our hearts

Why are you sorry?!
screams the confused silence of my bones
or the unflinching expression of a man’s face

after a life-time of catastrophes
tainted love
chocking dreams

and memories like the scenic route to civil wars
& he wears it all

with a walk like a stone cold killer

and a face fit for poker
but his heart is pale with grief
I know
cause I heard it in his smile
he laughs
but only because his body weeps
too weak internally

to die physically too
so when he grieves
and when she grieves
when their pain is too deep

to find alongside the outline of their faces
too far to find within the pages of their past
but close enough to smell in the sorrow of their loss
in these bags
filled to the brim with all their stuff
what do you say
when the air isn’t pure enough to breathe
and a routine, “I’m sorry” is simply not enough
to convince them

that the world

still spins

When Death Gives Birth to Humility

rose

Have you ever felt guilty trying to console someone who has lost a loved one even though it’s not your fault? Like, why do we say we’re sorry in the first place? What have we ourselves done? We apologize because we’re sorry for their sadness, and also because somehow, their loss has humbled us:

“It is apparent, that death, it’s sting… produces a humility powerful enough to find itself a home even inside the heart of the one who holds the cup of “I’m sorry’s

hoping our voice is somehow gloomy enough to produce the kind of sympathy that peels back the brick that found itself a place inside the gut of the bereaved.”