Some of y’all know I work at a church. Of course working at the church you are around a lot of family events, weddings, counseling and funerals. On yesterday, there was a funeral there. I didn’t think anything major about it until the ushers ran out of programs and we offered to copy more. On the front cover I see a picture of a YOUNG brother. First hint that the day wouldn’t be good. I notice he was born August 1983 making him a year younger than me. Second hint. Then I see that he went to Westlake. My heart sank to my stomach. I immediately felt sick. I’m thinking, I can’t be experiencing this again. This can not be another young person killed from around my way. But it is. My brain took me back to the day Shamar got killed. I felt all that pain all over again. I felt the hurt, the anger, the frustration and the guilt. Yeah, I felt crazy guilt for not telling Shamar that I loved him enough. I’ll never get those opportunities again. I wasted it.
But I didn’t know this guy the way I knew Shamar. Shamar was like a brother. He would stay at my house when my mom worked her late night job. He would kiss me on my cheek when I dropped him off at the train station. He would give me his t-shirts that I said I liked just so I could wear them around the house. I didn’t know this guy personally, but I knew I had a connection. And it didn’t mute the pain I felt for my hood losing another young person.
During the funeral, I just had to leave the church. My plan was to go to another friend’s house, someone who knew the young man very well, and just chill and talk to her about him. When I got back, the service would be over and I could just go on like normal. So I took my extended lunch, took her a program and returned to the church an hour and a half later…and the parking lot was still packed. Dangit! I sneak in the back door, hoping no one would see or need me. But my dumb behind comes in and says “do y’all need any help with the service?” D’oh! So now, I have to help console the young people who are there. I’m doing alright for a while, pretty much just standing in a corner waiting for someone to come to me. Then the casket comes out…and i absolutely lose it. All those feelings of guilt, those wasted opportunities I had with Shamar came rushing back. I’m crying like crazy, covering my face, taking deep breaths, and I’m supposed to be doing the consoling. Here I am needing it.
So I have to leave, clearly. I go to my desk and just cry more. Now I’m crying cause I’m angry. The brother that was killed wasn’t poor. His family wasn’t broken. He was well-off. I’m racking my brain wondering how many people wasted opportunities with him. How many people didn’t validate him while he was here? How many people didn’t reassure him of where his blessings truly came from? How many people affirmed that his worth came from the family estate and not God? And clearly we failed with the killer too! Who would have told him how they loved him and didn’t? I mean, I was livid with the world…and with myself. I waste opportunities everyday to tell people what they mean to me. That positive reinforcement means more to people than you can ever know. And I PROMISE YOU if WE did it more, we wouldn’t be dealing with a lot of this violence that we deal with now. Young folks are looking for affirmation and worth in the wrong places cause we’re not giving it to them. When are we going to do it? WHEN???
How many more Shamars are we going to have to lose before we put our foot down and stop wasting opportunities?
And for what it’s worth, I love you, Shama