On Saturday, August 3rd, I made the choice to avoid Facebook for the day. The day was already heavy and I didn’t need it to be any heavier. Though I answered calls, replied to text messages as well as those received on messenger, the reality is I just didn’t want to have to deal with my “present”. Instead, I chose to sit in my hotel room with the curtain drawn and my blazer over the lamp to darken the room. I started to prepare a post but then quickly sent it to draft. “What exactly do I have to say?”, is what I asked myself. As the notifications popped up on my phone my feelings and emotions became more and more mixed as I reflected on the last six years. For the better part of the day I sat alone and went over my speech. I was invited to be a special guest at the African Methodist Episocopal University Alumni Association (AMEUAA) reunion ball; an invitation I did not take lightly so I wanted to make sure I was somewhat in a good head space. I made it through the day without crying and becoming completely overcome by my emotions.
I made it to the ball with my support team in tow (Chelsea, Lainu and Spencer), gave my speech as I held back my tears then returned to my seat. Once the crowd began to sing happy birthday to Charles and their memorial chant, “Rest Charlie rest!”, reality knocked the wind out of me. All of the emotions and feelings I managed to suppress throughout the day bubbled over. While everyone laughed and enjoyed one another’s company I couldn’t shake my feeling of envy. Though they were just a small sect of people they none the less were representative of everyone Charles had ever befriended or associated with. They were the ones that got the better part of him and I got what was left. I literally had to share him with everyone. He was stretched so thin till there wasn’t much left for me.
I can recall a conversation we had on our way to Massachusetts last September. I told him he was a provider and he got offended. It was my truth. He provided for the kids and I but he was never present. Even when he was around. His level of devotion to his family, friends, associates and political affiliates consumed him. It was evident to me from the beginning that he was a people’s person, a giver. It became even more evident that he didn’t know how to turn it off. Not even for me. In May 2015 I was 5 months pregnant with our first child and unfortunately I miscarried. It was such a traumatic experience. That weekend he was also supposed to stand in a friend’s wedding. Knowing that I had my parents and siblings near, he opted to be present for his friend. After all I’m such a strong person and no matter how hard the blow I keep standing. The truth is I needed/wanted him there with me. I didn’t hold it against him. I just chucked it up to him being such a loyal friend.
I absolutely have no doubt in my mind that Chuck loved me but I couldn’t help but feel like I was in constant competition with you all. If he wasn’t on the phone at the crack of dawn listening to a radio show, he was on the phone harassing and joking around with friends and family in Liberia. When he would return home he was on the phone helping someone save their friendship, relationship or marriage. The times he wasn’t acting in his role as confidant, he was serving as an extension to the Liberian consulate or providing free Uber/Lyft services to and from the airport. While all of this was going on, I waited in the wings patiently for the day where the roles would be reversed and he would be consumed
by the children and I Instead of everyone else.
2019 was supposed to be our year where everything we were working towards would fall into place. We had our two boys, great jobs, and excited about working towards completing our individual degree programs. In addition we started talking about purchasing our own home. Things were looking up. He was finally ready to slow down and focus on us. As I stood talking with a few of his friends at the reunion, I couldn’t help but be overcome with emotions as I made my simple request which is my request to all who considered him a friend and brother. As his sons get older please be present for them as he was for you.
Tell them about their dad as they have no other reference point but you all. I can only tell them about how he was excited to be their dad and all of the hopes, dreams and plans he had for them. You all however are a treasure trove of knowledge of who he was as a brother, friend, uncle, cousin, confidant, etc.