My Brother’s Keeper
January 30th, 2016
I opened my eyes, reached over for my phone and pressed the home button…430am… I put my phone back on the nightstand and closed my eyes. Today is going to be a long day. I am going to see my brother in Canada. I’m a bit scared, but after a few weeks its time to face the music. I opened my eyes again and I stare at the ceiling and say aloud “I can do this.” I push the covers off and sit up slowly. I swing my legs over the bed and plant my feet firmly on the floor. He will never know how this feels again, I thought. As this thought comes to my mind, warm tears start flowing from my eyes. I quickly wipe my tears from my face with my t-shirt and repeat in my mind, I have to be strong. I stand without assistance and make my way to the washroom. It’s time to sing the song and memorize the lyrics.
It’s official, I have arrived in this small Canadian town or shall I say village. Everything is shut down, stores are closed, scattered people walking around with their heads down or staring blankly ahead. The weather is about 35 degrees and no sun, cold and overcast. This truly looks like a scene from The Walking Dead. Shit. This is the place where my brother getting his care from. I call for a cab and I stand on the corner with my hands in my pocket waiting a whole 3.5 minutes for my cab to pull up. I get in and tell the driver of my location. He looks at me and nods. Sitting in the cab that smells of curry, old cigarette smoke and a mild stench of body odor, I look at the run down dilapidated buildings and think, its 2016, people still live like this? We are literally a few miles from the U.S. border and things are so completely different. We are truly world’s apart. After a few minutes, we pull up to the hospital and I begin to carefully count my money and pay the driver, I know I am supposed to get $6 dollars back but he just handed me 3 coins. I sat there for a few seconds bewildered and decided to get a good look at the coins before going off! After careful inspection, I see each coin is worth $2. I gathered my belongings and said to my driver, “Have a good day sir and thank you” and he nods at me with no eye contact and shortly after I get out and closed the door, he drives off.
I took a good look at the building took a deep breath and sighed. I picked up my things and walked through the sliding door. I look around and I can’t figure out where to get to the 5th floor. I asked someone that looked like an employee and asked where can I find the neurosurgery floor and she pointed to the elevators and told me the 5th floor. I thanked her and walked down the hall to the elevator bank and I pressed the top button and I waited. This is it, I thought. I am finally here. I hope he isn’t mad that it took me this long to come see him. Finally, the doors open up and I get in and drag my luggage behind me. I press 5 and when I arrive to the floor, I begin to pay attention to the room numbers. 500A, 501A…the hallways are brown and old. Walls are brown, the floor is dark tan and the doors are brown. I walk past a soiled linen basket that is beige but with the stains, its pretty much brown now. Yep, The Walking Dead, I thought. I look up. 505A/505B, 506A…I take a few more steps and I stand before 508A. I knock on the door and I hear “Come in!” I grab the handle of the brown door and turn it and push the door slowly. I have a pit feeling in my gut and I begin to walk slowly into the room. I closed the door behind me and I turn around to see more light brown curtains, I walk over and slowly pulled the curtain back and when I look up I am greeted by the biggest smile I’ve ever seen.
“Vanessa!” He said enthusiastically. And in that very second, all of my fears and my anxiety dissipated. My brother is ok. “Hey you!” I reply back to him. I dropped my stuff and walked over to him sitting in his wheelchair and warmly embraced my other half.
Through fire through storms
Burned and near drowned
I was handed this platform
Now hand me my crown
Past hurt past insecurities
Painful and some depressing
Looking back they couldn’t stop me
All those lessons were simply blessings
From heartbreak from tears
Broken hearts and disappointments
Revealed strength and eased fears
Ready now for real commitment
With passion with dedication
Liberation and admiration
Ready to release these inhibitions
And embrace my transformation
2016 at Midnight
**Disclaimer- Fiction story!”
“Girl, why did you answer the phone like someone stole your dog?” said Talia
I sighed “Whatever. What’s up? It’s New Years Eve, I know you guys have a party or two or three to go to”
“Cheer up! Anyway, that is why I called you. You are coming out with me tonight!”
I laughed “Yeah ok. No, tonight, I am going to Netflix and no chill and I bought myself a great bottle of Merlot and cooked a dinner to die for. I am good. But you girls have fun!”
Talia wasn’t having it though “No, I am sick and tired of you being so anti-social. You are going to do something different for a change and you are coming out with me even if I have to drag you out the house myself. Don’t try me Roni”
I rolled my eyes and thought about putting my own foot down and doing what I want which was stay home and relax or I could go out for a change like Talia is forcing me to do and I may actually have a good time.
“Fine. Against my better judgment I will go, BUT you are so driving!”
“Roni, you have a deal. I will pick you up at 9:30pm sharp!” said Talia.
“Uh huh, 9:30pm sharp to you means 10. I’ll be ready at 10p”
“Love you too! See you later lady” I hung up the phone.
At 10:30pm, Talia sends me a text informing me she is outside and of course I gave her hell for being late as usual.
“You are going to be late to your own funeral. Really a whole hour late?”
“Look Roni, beauty takes time. I have to make sure I look fine for midnight. And girl, you look amazing. I am positive you will find you a boo tonight!”
“Thanks! You look great as well. You will find a new boo tonight. I am so good. I am happy in my life now. Don’t need a man making me miserable.” I told her.
Talia just looked at me and rolled her eyes. I guess she is tired of my speeches on being single and stress free.
We walked into a beautiful home in the suburbs and the décor was beautiful, lights hanging everywhere. The place was packed and everyone was dancing to the 2015 hit Cheerleader by Omi. As I turned around, Talia was rushing off to the other side of the house. I glanced around the room until I spotted the table with the drinks. I walked over to the table trying hard not to bump into the people dancing. I finally got to the table and see Coca-Cola, Sprite, various wines, beer is in the cooler next to the table, then I saw vodka, my poison of choice. I made myself a drink, vodka and a splash of pineapple. I took a few sips and began to feel myself relax a bit. I spotted the DJ across the room and he has his Apple laptop open and headphones half on. He changed up the song and now he is playing Beyonce’s 7/11 song. I started to walk around the room to see if I spot Talia and still nowhere to be found. Ugh. Maybe this wasn’t the best idea. Had I known she was going to leave me once we hit the door I would have sat my butt at home. I pull my clutch from under my arm and pulled out my iPhone and its 11:45pm. 15 minutes until midnight and I am sitting in a strange house and still alone.
I found a seat and sat down, I put my clutch next to me and continue to sip my drink and vibe to the music. I had to give it to the DJ. He is good, everyone is dancing.
“Is this seat taken?”
I looked up and this gorgeous man is standing over me with the nicest smile I have seen in a long time.
“Umm, it is now by you.” I responded
“I’m Sebastian, Happy New Years”
“Nice to meet you and same to you, I’m Veronica but I go by Roni.” I smiled and turned away. He is fine and I am starting to blush and this drink is giving me some sort of liquid courage.
“So Roni, why are you sitting here alone with only a few minutes left until midnight? Where is Mr. Roni?”
“No Mr. Roni” I laughed and continued “I came here with my friend Talia and she kinda got lost in the crowd, what about you? Where is Mrs. Sebastian?”
“Look Roni, I am flattered, you are beautiful and all, but I don’t think we are ready to be married” He joked
“Really sir? You are a trip!” I laughed
“No lady in my life, hence why I am here as well and my friend kinda flowed with the wind tonight once we got here. Guess he didn’t want competition with the ladies.”
“I can see why he would feel that way, one flash of that smile, you will steal any woman he was interested in”
“The only thing I’m thinking of stealing is a kiss at midnight from this beautiful woman sitting next to me”
I swallowed real heard. Oh boy.
“Oh, no one is sitting on the other side of you. So I guess that leaves me huh?” I flirted back.
I looked at my phone and its 11:57pm
I looked at Sebastian “ We have 3 minutes left until 2016, are we sealing it with a kiss?”
He replied, “I would be overjoyed. I can end the year right and start it even better” He said while applying a fresh coat of chapstick. This is going to happen I see.
“I don’t go around kissing men I just me-“
Sebastian grabbed me and put his hand gently around my neck and pulled me in for a kiss.
At that moment, the room stilled. I no longer heard the music; I forget we were in a crowded room. Faintly in the background, I heard a countdown
“10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Happy New Years!” Auld Lang Syne plays in the background and Sebastian and I are sitting in an embrace as we kissed.
I pull back from his embrace after a few moments and I sat there smiling at him.
“Veronica, I don’t know if you felt that, but I know I sure did”
“Oh yea, I felt something alright”
“I’d love to”
Sebastian took my hand and led me to the dance floor as we danced to the next couple of songs. As I look up I see Talia, smiling and giving me a thumbs up and blowing kisses at me. I smiled back at her.
I guess she was right, this year its time to do something different. This is going to be a good year.
In A Blink Of An Eye
I stare blankly at the ceiling, just blinking. It feels like I am having an out of body experience. A few moments ago, the phone rang, and I got the worse news of my life. I shouldn’t have answered the phone. A few minutes ago, I was making plans with my coworkers to hit up a local sushi restaurant. I had sweet chili edamame and spicy tuna roll with a dab of wasabi on top on the brain and it was this close to being brought to fruition. Then the dreaded phone rang.
“Yes, this is she”
“This is Dr. Lau from the county hospital, I am afraid to inform you but your child has been in a major accident, she is currently in the pre-op and we need your consent to perform surgery, she has major internal bleeding around her heart which is causing pressure and is going into cardiac arrest off and on…Mrs. Daniels? Are you there?”
I held the phone and I am not sure how I did. I was searching for air. Looking for that breath that will allow me to speak. This can’t be happening. No, this is a joke.
“Ok, you guys got me. Ha Ha. This has gone too far now.”
“Excuse me? Mrs. Daniels, this is not a joke. How long before you get to the hospital. This is an emergency. Is there someone else who can make decisions on your behalf? I am very sorry, but we will do our best to help your daughter….”
I can’t believe what I was hearing. The man on the other line continued to talk but I couldn’t make what else he was saying. At this very moment, I feel everything around me slow down, like a scene straight out of the movies. People are walking up to my desk asking me questions about the recent data, my iPhone is buzzing with texts messages about finalizing lunch plans
(Girl! You ready to leave?! I’m starving!)
…Another message from a friend who is venting on his failing relationship with his partner
(I don’t know what else to tell her? I don’t see how her not wanting to have kids is ok? That’s not what we agreed on! She knows I want children! Why is she so selfish!!! I cant! What should I do? I love her… 😦 )
I can’t breath. Now, I sit in this chair and I am not sure when I dropped the phone. But I hear the doctor yelling my name in the faint background. My only child is hanging on for dear life. Since my husband passed six months ago, I have been barely making it and she has been my rock. I can’t lose her too.
I can’t breath.
I am not sure when I started yelling. I am not sure when I slipped my chair to the floor. I don’t remember it happening. I hear muffled voices all around me. Someone is saying my name repeatedly. I hear it, but I can’t find my voice to speak.
“I’m ok.” I whisper.
Why don’t they hear me?
“She is slipping out of consciousness! Someone grab an AED! Who is calling 911?”
Why are they yelling? I said I’m ok. No one can seem to hear me. Forget it. I am tired of fighting. I’m so tired. I’ll just close my eyes and envision Marcus. He is smiling at me. Home. I’ll just go home to my husband. He always knows what to do.
A Love Poem
But I’m scared of love
Getting too comfortable without love
But, we were born to love
Yet we fail at love
We think we should feel love
Instead of being love
We condition love
Not knowing how to show our love
Do you even know, What is love?
I want to learn love
All that loves
I don’t know how to love
When I see love…
I run from love
I’m hiding from love
Peeking out to watch love
In awe of love
Can’t fall in love
I need to embrace love
(Sigh) Maybe tomorrow…
Making A Lemon Drop With My Lemons
It’s the last day of the best month of the year (I am a bit partial to my birthday month) and I have enjoyed a great week long vacation from work, if I count the days I haven’t been in the office it would be 10 glorious days. However, tomorrow December 1st, I am due back in. I am dreading the thought of walking back into the office. In the past 10 days, I have spent good times with my loved ones, due to the holiday and friends visiting from out of town. I learned to make a new dessert, White Chocolate Crème Brulee (which was to die for) even bought a cooking blow torch and got real fancy! I should have taken a picture of it! In my time off, I also got to brainstorm on my writing and devote my time to I am V and possibly other ventures. I even did a little henna. I got to truly focus on me. What a concept!
Tomorrow bright and early, I will be going back to high school- opps I mean work and deal with the mean girls or cliques of my department. Don’t get me wrong I have so much to learn in my job and I honestly like what I do, I just don’t care for the meaningless politics and immature behavior of miserable people. It is also hard to want to do a great job when I am now disengaged at work. Repeated offenses of being labeled, provoked to act a certain way, then receive backlash when I don’t fall for the triggers, lack of direction to perform at my best, but consistently told how I am doing it wrong with more no direction. In occasions where I shine, I am being pushed aside. When I take on initiatives and begin to receive praise, my immediate supervisor finds ways to take it away from me and pass it on to his favs. Now, I have become that employee they tell you not to become in orientation. The disengaged one. I refuse to participate in “fun” activities. No Secret Santa for me (ain’t nothing secret about it), no pot-luck for me, nope I don’t want to do lunch. I stay in my lane and mind my business. But guess what? That is wrong too. I am still labeled as the bitter black woman. Now what? I don’t respond to the negativity and keep to myself, I am bitter. If I respond to it and become more assertive (Note I say assertive, NOT aggressive), I am bitter. If I brown nose and be fake, ignore when they talk about me and participate in bad mouthing others, then viola! I am a shoe in. What’s a girl to do? I always preach about remaining authentic. I can’t conform now. How can I become engaged as an employee and put my best foot forward and stay away from the negative behaviors? The million-dollar question. (I am open to advice!)
So, I use my writing as an outlet. I am more fueled by all of this to do better for myself and follow my dreams. I want to write. I want to be creative and leave that toxic atmosphere and step outside and breathe fresh air. No more labels. I want to simply be V. So everyday, when I go into the office, I remind myself (also have to continue reminding myself) that there is a bigger picture. I have a goal. I try to turn this negative into a positive. I am employed. I actually like what I do. I can learn from this and use my good and bad experiences from it to write. Good days, write. Bad days, write some more.
Last night, I was watching the Soul Train Music Awards, which I enjoyed! I got to hear some of the old songs that I loved when I was growing up. I listened to the acceptance speeches of the ones who received awards and I was inspired yet again. Jill Scott, Tyrese, Babyface. I am sure they all encountered difficulties and were pressured at some point to conform to society norms. Yet they all did not. All remained authentic to themselves, their beliefs and truths. At some point, someone told them they weren’t good. Someone tried to dull his or her shine. How do the greats become great? What are the daily practices of the successful? I thought of these things and realized I can’t give up now. I have to continue the fight and be true to my dreams. I guess tomorrow, I am going to wake up a little early and walk into that office with my head held high and morals in the space and thrive. Hey, I may even put on some red lipstick.
Happy Birthday V!
Go! Go! Go! Go V, It’s Ya Birthday!
My son’s card this year!
A couple of days ago I turned 36 and I must say that it was an amazing day. Honestly, at first I was not in the birthday spirit. My friends and family would ask me if I was making plans for this birthday and my answer was “nah, not in the mood” or “It’s only 36, nothing major, I’ll go hard for 40.” Despite, my lack of wanting to celebrate, it didn’t turn out that way. One of my best friends made plans for us to go to a popular lounge in the area and I obliged. I ended up have a good time. Had my favorite Lychee Martini, about 5 of them! Saw a band perform whom the members I knew since high school and they gave me a birthday shout out which was pretty cool and then I got into the spirit. I ended up celebrating Saturday night, then again on my actual birthday on Sunday all day! My loved ones made me dinner and baked a cake for me and my mother made me dinner and invited people over. I honestly felt the love.
Over the past 36 years, I learned so many life lessons and I feel that I can help others with some of the pain that I have experienced which in turn gave me so much wisdom. I have many more lessons to learn and open to learning for I am a fallible human being in search of the answers to this mystery we call life. Here are the first 20 lessons…
- You are going to fail at something. No one is great at everything. Let that go. Use that failure for growth. When live gives you lemons, forget lemonade. Make a lemon drop. Enjoy it and sip it slow.
- People disappoint. Never put your all into another fallible human being. Putting people up on a pedestal is a set up for a let down. Be realistic in your expectations in others.
- Marriage takes work. I got married early and divorced early. What I learned in my short 2-year stint, I take with me forever. Hence why I have yet to remarry. I know it takes the right person who is also committed to making it work for it to work. Today’s society has way too much comfort in always knowing there is a plan B.
- Being a single parent sucks. People need to stop glorifying it. Two-parent household is better than one. But if you are in a toxic situation, save yourself and save your child. But be prepared to deal with all that comes with it. Good and bad.
- If you are in a single parent situation. DO NOT talk negatively about the other parent to your child.
- More about parenting. It is NOT about you. It is about the child. Selfish behaviors do not work.
- Never stop dreaming and accomplishing your goals. Shit gets hard. But that doesn’t mean you give up. Keep on pushing. Go to school, record that demo, start that business, write that book, paint that mural, whatever the dream, don’t stop dreaming it.
- Your parents aren’t that crazy. They drive your crazy, but there is a lot of wisdom to be learned from parents and grandparents.
- Make time for your self. Stop giving your everything to everyone and every thing. Make time for yourself. Self reflect often.
- Pray daily. Speak positives into your life. Negative thinking, negative speaking will get you negative results. I do believe that we manifest our destiny. I do believe that if we believe that something good is going to happen, it will. In the right time, it will. Have Faith and pray.
- When people do you wrong, it is a reflection on them, not you. Let that shit go and learn from what you did and move the fuck on. Dwelling on it will make it worse and will have you questioning who you are. Refer to 10.
- When you go on a date, people put your damn phones away. It’s rude and your date won’t like it. (See others do it and it irks me) I digress…
- About the Exes…leave them in the past. There was a reason why it didn’t work out, right? I know there are exceptions to this but 90% of the time… let that shit go.
- When someone shows you who they are believe them. Maya knew what she was talking about. I always used to think I could change what someone meant or going through and justify their actions. You can’t.
- Emotional unavailable people. I learned this again recently. Run for the hills. Don’t invest in someone who tells you they are ready when ALL of their actions show that they aren’t. Save yourself and emotions and stay single.
- Hurt people hurt people. Even if they do not know they are hurt.
- Racism is still every so present. I am dealing with it daily at work and that sucks. How you react to it is how you survive it. Be smart
- My biggest lesson here: PAUSE. Do not be so quick to react to everything. PAUSE. Before doing anything and saying anything. Still a work in progress.
- Everything you do, do it with integrity. Your work speaks volumes about they type of person you are.
- Be humble. Be conscious of what others are going through. Be kind. I learned this the hard way. I used to be unforgiving and I also used to be very black and white. Sometimes life draws you to the gray. The gray isn’t so bad, it’s a time to grow and realize that things are always what you expect them to be. When you think you have it bad, someone has it worse.
- Bonus: What my grandmother always told me… you are not the first person to go through what you are going through and you will not be the last. So suck it up and do what needs to be done. It’s never impossible. Hard, maybe, but not impossible.
These are my lessons, what are some of yours? I am so grateful for everything that I have went through because it made me who I am. I don’t apologize for loving those I did, or trusting those I have. That’s my super womanpower. I love. I nurture, I encourage. And whomever, I did that for, I have no regrets. I hope it helped. I will do it again any day!
ONE LOVE to ALL!
In less than 100 words.. Here is a different perspective… #writing101
I watch you from afar
You’re spiraling out of control
I no longer recognize who you are
I no longer see the person I used to know
You are drowning in your despair
And refuse to see the light
Not allowing those close to care
Simply giving up the fight
He wakes up this morning and stares at the ceiling. Wondering when things got so bad. He used to think he was on top of the world. Now he sits with the weight of the world on his shoulders. So he pulls out a lighter and begins to numb the pain…
Hello, It’s Me.
Today’s writing assignment for writing101 is to create a scene with coffee. So here is a little something I came up with. This is not a real story! I wanted to create a scene and see if it comes to life so to speak. Do you see yourself there? Do you feel what she is feeling? What would you have done differently?
I sit in a corner at Starbucks next to a window with my hoodie on.
It’s always so cold in here. I make sure I sit next to an outlet so I can power up my laptop and recharge my cell. I glanced at my phone and no new messages and no missed calls. No Facebook messages. Nothing. I say to myself “this has to stop!” And flip my phone over so I can’t see the screen. I enter my password to my MacBook and open up Word and proceed to write…
“I wonder if he thinks of me…
I wonder if he still knows I’m here…
I wonder if I show him some more support,
He will realize that I truly do care”
Ugh poem gone wrong. Not how I intended this to go. I press backspace until all the words are gone and go sit in this cold Starbucks and stare at a blinking cursor. What gives?
I give up and turn my phone over…still no missed calls, wait a message! Oh from my mother… No emails. I gotta give this shit up. I’m not gonna hear from him again. It’s evident. It’s been 6 days and a few hours.
I decided to get up and order a tall Flat White with 2 pumps on Vanilla, while I wait, I put my hands in my pocket of my hoodie and look around to see who is here and that’s when I see him. Mr. Disappearing Act. On a date, with a girl. I think it’s a date. Sure looks like one. They are laughing and smiling. Didn’t he see me in the corner? I am a mixture of angry and sad. I grab my drink when they yelled my name and I glance quickly to see if he heard it and he didn’t. He is so engulfed by his date, its like I don’t even exist. I go back to my corner and I stare at them. How affectionate they are. How happy he seems. They both get up and leave and he gives her a warm embrace. I grabbed my phone and text him “Hey, how are you, I haven’t heard from you in a while” He responds “Really busy at work, call you later”