The ingredients, elements, and remnants of a catastrophic meltdown. I’ve been trying not to lose my sh*t these four months and now this sh*t.
I truthfully CAN NOT!
I can not see.
I can NOT breathe, and I can NOT swallow.
My eyes are instantly swollen from crying so hard. I’m panting and choking on my spit at the same time. This can’t be real. This can’t be life at all.
“Rahk, calm down baby. Speak slowly. Who? What? What are you trying to say?” The voice on the other end of the phone demanded.
“He gone, I know he is! Resuscitate... over an hour? Bullsh*t! Anytime they say someone went down, that means they dead,” I managed to blurt out.
Afterall, I prayed and prayed… to no avail.
He was born September 9th, 1981. A too cool for school, light hearted, goofy and precocious kid, hit the scenes dancing to MJ's Wanna be Startin’ Somethin’. By the time I arrived we were grooving to Thriller - true 80s babies, three years apart, kissing cousins and partners. We were best-friends!
His name was Lawrence Matthews Jr., but we called him Larry. He went by a couple of names “Larry,” “Law” or the self-proclaimed “Big L” when he’d rock his bucket Kangol just like LL Cool J.
Larry was my big cuz but truthfully more like a brother. He was the cousin who dressed fly and had what we called “360’s” - waves in his hair. You know the ones that got the girls sea sick? Yea, those.
I mean he had everything! He had the looks, leather jackets, Timberland boots, gold chain, confidence and even a driver's license. There wasn't a thing he couldn’t do. We would talk for hours about everything. We stayed up late, laughed and stole his mom's car just to joy ride. Larry was fearless, confident and just too freaking cool. He never met a stranger, never complained or uttered a negative word. Like ever!
My cousin was so optimistic. Even the times we got caught, or in trouble, he took responsibility. He was accountable and easily let things roll off.
“Damn, why didn’t I think of that, cuz? I wish I had some of your juice… you just too cool,” I often told him.
The crazy part was he thought the same of me. Larry was one of my biggest fans while I went away for college. We didn’t envy each other, have spats or do the drama thing. He was just too cool for any of that. It was that same coolness that got him through one of the biggest challenges he’d soon face at 25.
I remember him calling:
“Yea cuz. I'm in the hospital for this little thing but I'll be there for your graduation. Give me a couple of weeks. We bout’ to kick it hard down in Texas.”
The whole time he neglected to tell me that “little thing” was a developed rare heart disease and that he needed a transplant. You see, I knew he was fearless and optimistic but after learning he had heart problems... I thought his A** was crazy. In his mind, this “little thing” was nothing. He really thought we’d be partying in Texas graduation night.
Meanwhile, I was like What? Heart disease! How did this happen? What happened? This man was in military shape and never drank or smoked. He never had heart issues! But, that's just how cool he was. He didn’t sweat many things not even after learning he had a failing heart.
Years prior, we made a pact, promising to take care of our families. We promised to become successful in our 30s together and to always challenge each other.
Diligently working on his end of the bargain, he became a firefighter (two years after a successful heart transplant). It was like God gave him a new heart and chance at life. With that, he wanted to save other people’s lives. He loved everything about being a firefighter and I was right there with him. We’d crack jokes in the fire house when I came through visiting his shifts.
I watched him grow mentally, physically and professionally into an amazing man, father, husband, son and friend. That transplant changed his life. He knew he was blessed. In our 20s and 30s we went on to do some really epic things!
But on June 10th, 2017 - exactly 10 years and 8 days after his new heart, my beloved cousin took his final breaths. He died while answering a fire call. After some shortness of breath, he went into full cardiac arrest followed by a heart attack. He died doing what he loved.
Our pact was no more and his dreams deferred. Blindsided and betrayed is what I felt. How did this happen? Why did this happen and what am I supposed to do now?
I would have never seen this coming, not now.
After all, I been through this year; not him. Not Larry. He was my life coach, friend, brother and cousin.
I know it sounds selfish. But, the hurt and anguish that haven’t healed from losing Larry's mom (my aunt) and my grandfather (only months prior) still taunted me. And, now him.
The frustrations of putting my dreams, book, freedom, and life on hold for instant motherhood weighed even heavier. I feel robbed, abandoned and directionless. I still haven’t located where to go from here.
I am not a fan of this chapter in my life, but I must go through it to get to the next one.
I don’t know if I’ll ever get over this one. The hole in my chest is too deep. However, the pressure is on. I have two little eyes on me and hundreds of others watching. I have a job to report to and people to inspire.
Yes, I’m very bitter, but I also have sh*t to do.
I know Larry is rooting for me too. “Get yo a** up cuz and keep swinging,” I can hear him now.