Category Archives: Death

Hanging Graves

I should start by saying, I have serious issues.

Recently, I was sitting in my bosses boss’s office having a typical meeting.  I don’t normally let my mind wander while having these conversations but as the conversation was nearing a resolution, my mind began to find other things to notice.

So he’s an avid hiker.  I’m pretty sure he’d rather deal with the woods before dealing with any one of us that report to him, but he gets paid to deal with us, so there he sits.  As an avid hiker, he has pictures of some of the trails he has hiked.  I’ve seen these pictures every day for a few years now.  But, as I sit there on this day, I began to have a very morbid thought.  Likely, due to my brain preoccupied with serious analysis for a few hours and in need of some entertainment.

I began to think about my boss as a serial killer.  He killed along the trails while he hiked.  And the pictures in his office were actually pictures of grave sites.  His way of keeping a trophy of his deeds.  As I thought this, the lights began to go down, and I looked up to find his eyes piercing my soul.  He had noticed my preoccupation with the photos, and knew I was onto him.  As he stared at me, he knew that I would need to be dealt with.  He looked over to an empty spot on the wall, and immediately envisioned a new trophy….another photo of a grave site…and one less employee.

Like I said, I have issues.  My thoughts don’t typically get that weird, especially while at work.  The little man in my head was hard at work that day (I’ll tell you about him some other time).  I may never know the true innocence or horror of those photos, but I’m sure I’ll think about it every time I’m back in that office.  I mean, it’s not impossible, right?

Sometimes, Humans Just Suck

If you never have to tell your kids to be aware of their surroundings, you don’t understand.. If you never have to tell your kids that the law is not on their side, you don’t understand.. Unfortunately, a lot of you don’t understand…”

Walter Greene

The above quote is from a friend of mine on Facebook.  I didn’t ask him what this was in reference to, but I can be almost certain it has to do with the outcome in the George Zimmerman trial, and the subsequent reaction.  The thing is, there are a lot of people who would like to believe that racism and discrimination does not exist beyond the minds of those minorities claiming it, or the White’s who support those claims.  My interpretation of what my friend is saying is this…

You might not understand why so many Black people feel so connected to this case, if you haven’t had our experiences.  I could use slavery, and the hundreds of years of persecution, but I won’t.  What I will say is, you might not understand our anger if you never looked in the history books or watched film, and saw people of your race being sprayed with water hoses, and hung from trees.  And I’m not talking about hundreds of years ago, I’m talking about less than 50 years ago.  If you looked back and saw those repeated images and instances involving people who looked just like you, you just might get it…

You might not understand if you’ve never went to pay for something at the store, and the clerk immediately thought you were going to pay with your EBT card…

You might not understand if you’ve never gone to visit your friend of a different race at her home, only to have the neighbors call the cops because you and your friend looked “suspicious” while conspicuously walking up the driveway to the front door.

You might not understand if you’ve never been followed through a store as you browsed like a normal patron would do.

You might not understand if you never had someone lock their car door because you were crossing the street, or had someone clutch their purse because you were walking in their direction along the sidewalk.

You might not understand if you’ve never been pulled over and had your car searched, for no reason….no reason meaning, you didn’t even get so much as a seat belt ticket.

You might not understand if you never had to fear pulling out a wallet, cell phone, or any item from a coat or pants pocket in the mere presence of a police officer, could get you killed

You might not understand if you never had the realization that you or your brother could just have easily been Amadou Dialo, Abner Louima, Sean Bell, or Trayvon Martin, to name a few.

The thing is, there are people who feel that the outrage at these types of incidents are overreactions.  They would like you to believe that these things could happen to anybody.  Well if that’s the case, why don’t these things happen to just anybody?  Maybe they’d like us to believe that it only gets attention because the news likes to sensationalize these things.  Well, how many of the major news outlets are owned and run by Black people?  I’ll wait if you’d like time to Google it…So, if these incidents aren’t true racial issues but more of an attempt by the media to make a story (or divert your attention), isn’t that still a form of exploitation that’s dictated by the color of our skin?  Isn’t that still a bad thing?  Do you get it yet, or do you still not understand??

The truth is, not every bad thing that happens to a person of color is about their skin color.  Thinking and acting that way is dangerous and irresponsible.  I truly believe that there are good people of all colors and backgrounds that want everyone to be treated equally.  Just like I think there are bad people of all colors and backgrounds out there who would put a gun to the back of your head without regard for your color.  Sometimes, humans just suck.  But it’s also dangerous to believe that violent racism doesn’t exist.  The longer we try to pretend that it’s a figment of a small groups imagination, the longer we will see these things happening.

For those of you who do not agree, that’s okay.  If you feel strongly that race is a non-issue, then there’s no talking to you.  I won’t even say if you are right or wrong.  What I will ask is that you not judge the reaction of others.  In a case like Trayon Martin, either be outraged that a 17 year old was killed, or be indifferent…just don’t be an asshole.  Especially if you have kids…because if you do, I’m sure the thought of losing them in such a violent way, and having no one held accountable (in essence being told your child deserved to die), I’d imagine is an unbearable pain.  The fact that part of a nation is expressing their pain along with you may be justified/comforting.  So unless you’ve experienced this kind of loss, you might not understand.

The loss of any young life is tragic!

Preparations

To prepare for something, is a good thing.  I get that, but what I don’t like is having to speak with my father about his preparation for when he’s no longer here.  Certainly, there’s no one on earth who is going to be here indefinitely.  We all recognize that there will be a time when our loved ones are no longer here.  For some of us, we have already lost close loved ones, so the thought is also a reality.  Even still, having to deal with it beforehand is not something that is desirable.

I’m mature enough t know that I need to have these talks with my dad.  I need to know where to find the deeds, and what the codes to the safe are, and who the mansions and yachts go to (me, my brother, or my sister).  But just because I know I should know, doesn’t mean I want to know, or more specifically…it doesn’t mean I want to face the reality of a future without my father.

But not only did I not want to have the conversation because of my fears, I didn’t want to have the conversation because of what he must have been thinking.  I mean seriously, how must it feel to have to begin to prepare a world…prepare your loved ones for when you’re gone?  Imagine getting a babysitter, dog sitter, house sitter.  That’s a temporary situation, but think about having to apply that to a situation where you know you’re never coming back.  The thing is, my dad is a smart guy.  He knows how important this stuff is, and he knows he has to prepare us for something that is eventually inevitable and out of his control, so I recognize how important this is.  I don’t know if his preparations mean he’s accepted that it will one day happen, or if he’s just being him (he is an all around prepared kind of individual).

The other thing to note is that we are not talking about a seventy or eighty year old man.  He’s not even in his sixties yet!!!  I guess that’s the other thing that seems so premature to me (“pop, I don’t want to talk about that”).  I guess I just assume he’s got a good twenty or thirty years ahead of him, which I’m sure he does and means he will have to prepare us multiple times as things change in his life.  Ugh!!!  I appreciate his goal, but I do hate the conversation.

Real Talk (Re-charged)

Years ago, I used to send out a weekly note originally titled “Second Thought,” and subsequently called “Real Talk.”  It was my attempt to speak to a wide range of people on topics that I found to be important at the time of the writing.  Due to personal obstacles, I discontinued writing.  Recently, I’ve thought about picking up where I left off, and I figure this blog to be the perfect forum.  As with Second Thought (Real Talk), I will publish on a topic each Sunday.  For those of you who follow this blog (Train of Thought), I will still post on other days, but Sunday’s will be dedicated to Second Thought (Real Talk).  Note that I will change the name at some point in the future, since the term “Real Talk” is used so frequently these days.

Today’s topic is one that is most likely at the top of everyone’s mind.  On Friday, September 14th, we all witnessed a horrific event take place in Newton, CT.  Our kids are a most precious gift, and it still brings tears to my eyes to know that these innocent lives were taken in such a violent way.

I was reading a post on FaceBook about these killings, and someone used this instance as a justification that there is no God.  How could a superior being who loves us, let something so terrible happen to individuals who have not even begun to live their lives.  I understand this course of thinking, but I want to look at it a bit deeper.  God, this superior being, is all about love…His son Jesus is about faith.  How better to test your love of, and faith in, God than by hardship (I’m not going to go all religious either).  But even beyond that.  Let’s think about the bigger picture…or let’s imagine that God is thinking about the bigger picture.

Terrorist attacks, storms, and massacres….all of these things that sicken the majority of us, fail to make us see that loving one another is the only way.  That peace, and taking care of our fellow man is what will sustain us.  The bigger picture is that these little angels are sitting at the side of God in his kingdom.  But whether you believe in God and heaven or not, the fact is, these 20 babies were sacrificed.  They were taken, and your anger and sadness today, has to translate into something more; otherwise, the losses were in vain.  Some say gun control is what’s needed.  Others turn to the handling of mental illness.  Whatever the debate, the bottom line is about how we treat one another.  The bottom line is, what we identify as important.  We live in a world where we know what’s right and what’s wrong…and we know where we need to have some serious debate.  Yet, we tend to lock ourselves in our own little world and live life as if it revolves around us.

I hate to say it, but acts like this will be repeated…over and over again, until we take a stand.  Good outnumbers evil by a long shot, but evil is much more motivated.  We have to change that.  Doing good, and seeing good done has to take a more active role in all of our lives.  We are not always going to agree, nor do we need to.  But for those of us who have good in our heart, we can’t let conflict turn to unnecessary violence.  We have to take better care of one another.  What that means in practical terms???  I don’t know.  I don’t have all of the answers.  But we can’t continue to be helpless.  We can’t continue to complain about our situation, but offer no solutions.  We can’t continue to let hate, distrust, and misunderstandings be the things that motivate us.  It starts with you in your personal life.  With showing those close to you how much you love them.  Teaching them to love and commit selfless acts.  It’s not an easy thing to do, and it takes work and practice.  You will find yourself “back sliding” from time to time.  But if you continue to work at it…not giving up on yourselves or others, you will get there.  Donate to charities, volunteer to help others who are less fortunate…say a nice word or two to unsuspecting people.  I don’t know, but something has to be done.  Just my thoughts…and I’m not above this advice.  I have work to do as well.  I pray that I’m successful.

Names of those lost:

Charlotte Bacon, 6

Daniel Barden, 7

Rachel Davino, 29

Olivia Engel, 6

Josephine Gay, 7

Ana M Marquez-Greene, 6

Dylan Hockley, 6

Dawn Hocksprung, 47

Madeline F. Hsu, 6

Catherine V. Hubbard, 6

Chase Kowalski, 7

Jesse Lewis, 6

James Mattioli, 6

Grace McDonnell, 7

Anne Marie Murphy, 52

Emilie Parker, 6

Jack Pinto, 6

Noah Pozner, 6

Caroline Previdi, 6

Jessica Rekos, 6

Avielle Richman, 6

Lauren Russeau, 30*

Mary Sherlach, 56

Victoria Soto, 27

Benjamin Wheeler, 6

Allison N Wyatt, 6

Today’s Thought…Random

I wonder if I’m weird.  I think everyone handles death differently.  On the surface, there’s grieving through acceptance with steps in between.  But what does it do to people on a smaller, less noticeable, scale?  Over time, what does the exposure to death over a lifetime do to an individual?

I don’t know…certainly as one gets older, they become more aware of their own mortality.  The reason I wonder if I’m weird is because I think I’m highly sensitive to the presence of death.  I can’t say it’s on the level of someone like Tupac who predicted he would die young.  Nor do I think is stalking me around every corner, but I’m aware of the many different ways that death could get me in its grasp.  For example, every since the young woman died from being crushed by an elevator in NY earlier this year, I’m more aware of how that could’ve been me.  I still get on elevators, without fear might I add, but the dangers do cross my mind.  Recently, an acquaintance of mine was shot to death in front of the Empire State building by a disgruntled former co-worker.  I work in human resources and I unfortunately am occasionally a part of terminations.  Though I’m not the persons manager, my mere involvement makes me wonder if I could be a target.  I still go to work, without fear, but it does sometimes hit me, as I enter or exit the building, that some former disgruntled worker could be waiting for my arrival.

I have other examples of this, but what makes me think I am sane is that it doesn’t alter what I do or change who I am.  I’m just more aware.  I feel like I’m more aware than the average person, but maybe that’s only because I can’t speak for anyone else.  Ah well, who knows…

(flush)

Interview Room B (Late Night Recession Edition)

It’s late…say about 6 o’clock in the evening on a Wednesday.  For whatever the reason, I have a late interview today.  I was accommodating a schedule, or maybe they were accommodating mine.  Regardless, the situation is what it is.  At 6pm sharp, my interview was ready to see me in the interview room.  He had completed his test, and was ready for us to sit down and have a conversation.

As I walked in, I immediately recognized him.  The name hadn’t rung a bell seeing that I run though so many names in day, but I’m usually good with faces.  This guy had applied here a few years ago for a completely different position.  I don’t recall the circumstances, but whatever they were, he was not hired.  As I looked at his resume, I could tell that it had been some time since he had actually held a job.  At some point, I needed to ask him about his activities during that time, but not yet.  We still had to get through the ice breaker, and some of the basic questions I needed to ask.

Finally, it was time to ask about his gap in employment.  What had he been doing, and what did he attribute to not being able to find a job.  As I asked, I thought about how cruel this bad economy had been to some people.  It seemed like an obvious reason, but I wanted to see how he might rationalize this.  He squinted his eyes and rubbed his forehead before letting out a big sigh.

“People like you,” he said in a very matter of fact tone.  Not much surprises me in an interview, but this did catch me off guard.  He repeated his response, more forcefully this time.  At the same time he reached into his bag, pulled out a gun, and fired two bullets into my chest.  He let out one more sigh, put the gun away into his bag.  He grabbed the resume he had so readily given to me before the interview, and placed that into his bag as well.  The gunshots had sent me to the floor and before exiting the room, he lingered over me…just staring.

He then leaned over me, and grabbed a business card out of my pocket.  He then stood up, turned out the light, and exited the room.

My blood poured onto the carpet.  My lifeless body lay there as it began to pool around me…mixing with the dirt and grime that thousands of footsteps had imbedded into it.  The cleaning crew had gone, and so I would not be found until the next morning.  The receptionist who prepares the rooms in the morning, won’t be ready for this.  She’s older, and the sight of my dead body, engulfed in my own pool of blood…eyes shut, and skin starting to fade to a brownish gray…may be just enough to kill her too.

Reflection

A friend of mine is going through a difficult time right now.  He and his wife are dealing with the probable loss of his father.  He’s in a coma and doctors say there’s almost no chance of him recovering, so they have removed him from life support and expect his passing any moment now.

Speaking with them has reminded me (not that it’s ever far from my mind) of two losses I’ve suffered that have impacted me in a major way.  The loss of my grandmother, and the loss of my mother.  Death is never an easy thing to deal with, but we all are faced with it at some point or another.  Sometimes tough choices have to be made, and though our emotions take us on a rollercoaster, we are forced to deal with things in a rational fashion.  When I reflect on my situation, I’m reminded of my grandmother; the last moments I had with her.  I visited her at her home in Brooklyn…a very familiar place to me during my childhood.  We had a chance to sit and talk.  I couldn’t tell you what we spoke about, but it was a long conversation.  I’ll never forget, that when it was time for me to go, she walked me to the door.  A small rather insignificant move to most, but big to me because I didn’t expect it, and it wasn’t something she normally did.  To this day, I’m sure that she, or a higher power, knew that it would be our last moment together.  We got a chance, in some sense, to say goodbye.

I didn’t have such an opportunity with my mother.  Her passing was unexpected, and though she had been sick, no one could’ve predicted that the night before, where she asked me if I wanted to share her mac and cheese, would be the last real conversation we would have.  I’m not mad.  I understand how death works, and saying goodbye isn’t always in the cards.  But I reflected on those last moments tonight, as I listened to my friend talk about his last moments.  As we took a drink in celebration of his dads life.  My friend was strong, and was able to rationally accept the inevitable.

It’s not easy, but it forces us to remember the good.  All of the things that we probably took for granted, become etched in our memory as the foundation of our relationship.  The good, the bad, and the hilarious.  I still remember how my mother asked if she could have some of my 40.  LOL, she wasn’t ghetto on the outside.  A successful young woman by all accounts, raising her kids in the suburbs.  She had roots in the ghetto.  My grandmother who refused to leave the ghetto, even though as a little kid, I’d vowed to get her a house elsewhere.  We always want to give those who did so much for us, something better.

The things that make us who we are.  Life, in itself, is a big cliche.  But you can’t help but fall victim to those cliches.  How short it is, how you should cherish every moment, and how the only thing in life that is certain, is death.  I can’t say I find comfort in that, but I do find comfort in the fact that they made huge impacts on my life.  Made me who I am.  Maybe not alone, but in large ways.  I can only hope to have that same impact on others.  So, as I reflect on their lives, and their deaths, I reflect on mine.  My life and my impending death.  I’ve got work to do, but I’m confident, that the lessons they taught me, the words they said to me, and the guidance they gave me, will guide me to live my life in their name.  Carrying on their will, and sharing their words of wisdom, even if I speak them as myself.  I am not who I am because of me, but because of them.  I am lucky to still have my father riding with me.  His influence is just as great as theirs.  And part of the lesson is to not take him for granted, for even though I have loved one’s who have passed, I have loved one’s who are still impacting my life daily.  I am grateful….I am blessed.

So I end this with a thought and prayer for my friend and his family.  I can’t know what they’re going through because I am not them, but I know that they will be okay.  I know that they will reflect, and continue to live the lives that this man tried to lay out for them.  Death is not easy.  But its lessons are there, and we need to see how the lessons of life are amplified in death.  Our loved one’s last loving gesture to us.  To remember, reflect, and keep the memory…the dream…and the battle for something better, alive….so their love was not in vain.  God bless.