One Graduation, Frantic Funeral, and the Last Minute Move10 min read
Life punched me in the face in 2016. It jerked me out of my senses. A smoothly paved road is easy to handle.
We’ve all had life punch us in the face at some point. I was looking at one graduation, frantic funeral, and the last minute move.
It’s not the smooth road that challenges us and creates the character that will bring out the best in us.
It’s the road that curves, twists, and has massive potholes that have the potential to break our ankles that move and shifts us.
Not all of what happened was unexpected. I anxiously awaited for my son’s graduation from high school. However, the unexpected happened.
My father transitioned out of my life which led to the frantic funeral.
Honestly, 2016 was a bit of a blur because I went from a graduation to planning a funeral to selling all of my belongings and moving to Thailand.
One Graduation, Frantic Funeral, and the Last Minute Move
My Son Graduates High School
As I stated previously, I knew this day was coming. The one graduation. However, it didn’t make it any easier.
All of a sudden there was little time to teach my son all that he needed to know before he stepped foot into this brutal world. I further doubted my influence over the years as a parent.
An issue that persisted my mind was will he be okay. My thoughts traveled to my little guy and all of the joys of parenthood. I missed all of his questions, his hugs, and his kisses.
My little guy is now a manchild. I am looking forward to getting to know “the man”. There were no rule books for me to study and read. I was a young 17-year-old mother.
I’m sure that I fucked up a lot along the way. As parents, we try our absolute best with what we have.
Maybe we had terrible parents and terrible upbringings, or somehow our needs weren’t fulfilled throughout our developmental stages.
Nonetheless, here I was getting ready for both the physical and emotional separation that’s supposed to take place. Senior year was tough.
We hated each other; from essay writing to SATs, to part-time jobs, and missing homework assignments. We couldn’t make graduation come fast enough!
Senior year also brought on a revelation: my son was not interested in the traditional college experience. He is a sensitive creative, and never took to academics.
I overlooked the genius talents that my son inhabited. Because, many of us only focus on the traditional methods of education, where in fact, education isn’t that linear, and neither is happiness.
“Mother.” He calls me Mother as if I’m a stranger. The word came during puberty. He stopped calling me mom years ago.
“K, answer the question. If you could wake up each day doing what you love? What would it be? If you could go hard for what you love, eating, sleeping, breathing, and consuming what you love, what would that be?” There was a brief pause. “I want to make beats.”
I’ve always been an academic. Learning was always easy for me. I slacked in high school, but for most of my life, I’ve always been someone who for the most part loved a classroom.
But school wasn’t always easy for my son. He loved Math and Science and loathed English class.
He excelled when he took drums in middle school and excelled when he was part of a band in high school. I didn’t notice.
As parents want our children to have a competitive edge in a society that judges you based on the colleges you did or didn’t attend.
When you spend years getting a higher education, it’s hard to relate to someone who wants to follow their passions. Society does the opposite.
I’ve always been a writer and loved to create stories as a kid, however, I didn’t get a masters degree in it.
Everyone that I knew wasn’t pursuing their passions. Even if they were creatives, they all had their day jobs. My life in a Caribbean household deemed it inevitable that I get a degree so that I get a good paying job, then work until I retire (or die).
I have zero musical creativity. My son didn’t get that from any of his parents. Again, I couldn’t relate to any of it.
When your child wants to pursue their dreams and expand their talents, you can only respond directly from the heart. I said, “Okay, I support you. I’m your biggest fan. So that’s what you’ll do.” Needless to say, I was nervous!
But I’ve always viewed his love for music as a hobby. Looking back, I wish I had cultivated his talents more than I did. Despite having two degrees, I was miserable in my career.
For my son to already know what he is passionate about and what he would commit to doing for the rest of his life was an incredibly insightful. Who am I to get in the way of that?
The Frantic Funeral
My father died unexpectedly during the same month that my son was graduating. He had died a week before my son was scheduled to walk. I spoke to him a week before his death.
On that particular phone call, I remember giving him shit about not attending my son’s graduation. In retrospect, none of that mattered.
Grief had me asking all types of what if questions. What if I called one more time? What if I checked up on him more?
My father was a very beloved man. He was the funny man, the ride or die man, the guy with big visions, and he cared deeply about other people.
His passing left a hole in all of our hearts and our lives. Visiting my aunt’s house wasn’t the same. It was quiet and desolate.
The funeral happened quickly. It’s still a blur. Picking out caskets, my father’s outfit, choosing flowers, venues, and caterers, then preparing the eulogy.
The chatter around me buzzed in my ear like a Charlie Brown episode. I didn’t hear a thing. There was a lot to do in a short amount of time. It overwhelmed me. However friends and family were by my side. The grieving process took a backseat.
The Westin Hotel, my father’s employer, helped tremendously. They provided the food and venue free of charge. It showed how much my father had an impact on their lives.
The Westin Hotel even named the cafeteria that my dad worked in after him and planted a tree in his honor. My heart swelled with gratitude.
The Decision to Move Abroad
Professionally I wasn’t grounded. There wasn’t any clarity about my career. I finally accepted and acknowledged that a career in real estate wasn’t for me which led to the last minute move.
Two and a half years ago I quit a six and a half-year career as a social worker. It was unplanned.
Here I was, no one to care for but myself. That was a whole new experience for me.
The relationship with my on and off girlfriend wasn’t working, and I felt completely disconnected from my current surroundings.
At that point in my life, nothing made sense, because I was out of alignment. There was always this strong desire to travel, but I found every excuse in the book not to.
With zero attachments and my son living in Florida to study music, the possibilities seemed endless.
When I told my son that I was going to live in Thailand for the next few months, he playfully shook his head and said, “Thailand?” My son is familiar with my antics.
We moved around a lot during his childhood, more than I would have liked. I played out my childhood experiences of always moving around.
In any event, he smiled and asked me why. I explained to him that the world is massive and beautiful. It needs exploration. It’s time for me to travel. He didn’t know what to say.
Yes, I have tons of anxiety! I’m worried about my son transitioning in a world that hates Black men. This political climate scares me; it’s tense and hateful.
Honestly, I’m not anxious I’m scared shitless! Usually, I’m an optimist. I believe that not good but great people do still exist.
Despite having optimism, I’m not delusional, and I still carry lots of fear regarding my son’s well-being. Deciding to move abroad is a huge decision.
The Last Minute Move
The thought of living abroad as a Black and Queer person gave me a lot of anxiety.
Of course, I had to do a bit of research which led me to mixed reviews on what the world thinks about Black people, but I envision it can’t be any worse than being Black and living in the United States.
I have tons of anxiety about reaching new heights in my professional career. Wait what is it again? I’m still figuring it out.
There’s a quote that says: Getting lost is not a waste of time.
I am hoping it isn’t. Yes, there’s school debt. I’m also not where I envisioned my professional career to be today.
My recent romantic relationship had genuinely shown me what it takes to succeed in a well-nurtured partnership. Through my experiences with my ex, love became real and powerful.
Currently, I am struggling with what it means to connect and to remain in-tune, as a reliable, romantic partner.
So yes y’all I’m a hot mess! However, I am embracing all of the challenges that are in front of me.
One thing that many of us have difficulties with is accepting that our journey is our own and no one else’s. I’ve realized that I need to focus solely on my path.
A few things that are in store:
▪ My road trip to Florida with K.
▪ The transition to Thailand.
▪ My students and my life living and traveling abroad.
▪ Journey with me while I gain clarity around my professional career.
Below is a picture of my son and me on his graduation day. My son has hung in there with his crazy mother. He’s awesome!
We went through many difficulties with our relationship, and when I realized it was me that needed to change, our relationship blossomed.
He is an amazing person. What I have learned throughout this journey of motherhood is: let your children live their dreams, and always love them first.
Also, no relationship is perfect, whether romantic, platonic or familial. If I had to do it all over again, of course, there are things that I would change, and whoever tells you: “I wouldn’t change a thing” is lying through their teeth!
Lessons I’ve learned:
- Age: knowing oneself first before one becomes a parent or a romantic partner is essential to maintaining and developing any relationship.
- The way that I viewed money: I developed a scarcity mindset through childhood. Children can quickly absorb a poverty mindset.
- Motivation: if you can pass that along to your kids, please do. I would say find what they like soon and have them try everything. If you notice that your children are passionate about something, then allow them to explore their passions.
- Self-esteem: because of my struggles with self-esteem and the negative language that I used, I would hear my son use the same language. Make sure your children know that they are always the best and that they can do anything. Avoid using defeating, negative language and language filled with scarcity and fear.
- Experiences: I would’ve stopped making excuses and had more adventure with my son.