Wednesday, September 29, 2010


i am blessed

in so many ways

and yet...

i sometimes


to not feel sorry for myself.

Monday, September 27, 2010

memory monday #4

last week, i spent a couple of nights on my couch -- something i don't do very often and something i hadn't done in a very long time. while sometimes sleep just takes over, i generally wake up unhappy with myself for falling asleep on the couch. mainly because it typically means sore muscles and me not feeling that refreshed. my dreams get a little more crazy. i feel like i'm oversleeping. on one of last week's nights, i even woke up and went to call Jarronn on my cell phone to tell him about something running through my subconscious mind.

somehow Jarronn never had this problem. in fact, on at least two or three night per week, he would fall asleep on our couch. a big part of this had to do with the amazing fact that he had an ability to fall asleep ANYwhere. i'm convinced that you could have put him on a slab of concrete, and he would have been knocked out. and while i would try to wake him up and get him to get in bed, i was usually pretty unsuccessful. and my persistence would typically lead to him getting upset with me.

and so this series of repeated events became yet another lesson in relationship management: learn to pick your battles wisely, and leave the small stuff alone. if he really didn't want to get up, leave him be. and i knew he'd eventually wake up at 2 or 3 a.m. and either do some work he hadn't finished or get in the bed.

this week's memory is from my cousin maria, who -- like Jarronn -- also has had an affinity for our big leather sectional. she would actually look forward to sleeping on it when she would come to visit us.

on september 8, maria wrote:

Apart from the endless mischief and trouble that we caused together, my favorite memory of Jarronn was when we would fall asleep together on the couch. We'd been doing it since we first met, and it didn't matter the couch: from Jess' couch and loveseat at her townhouse in Jersey in '05, to Aunty Jen's couch at home, to their incredible leather couch in Maryland: that was the one time I got Jarronn to myself, and selfishly, I loved it. 

Even though we were sleeping and weren't speaking, it was the one moment where I didn't have to share him with anyone else. It was this long period of silence that felt so comfortable and so safe, that I almost hated waking up. It may sound ridiculous, but during that time I felt like we were bonding and it was this special time that I cherised when no one could interrupt. 

Jarronn and I don't get to physically take naps anymore, but I fall asleep with him every night feeling incredibly secure. I love you "big cousin."

Your "Marsie Baap" (*insert Jarronn's Jamaican accent*)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

the clothes

it took me nearly a year to sort through, pack up, and give away Jarronn's clothes. in a sense, i'm glad i waited so long, because i think the passing of time made the process far less emotional. some people had asked me about my plans for the clothes soon after he died, and i really couldn't wrap my head around it. as much as i rationally knew that they were material things, i couldn't muster the energy and strength to take on the process.

when i got to the place where i was ready to move the clothes, there were other people who assured me that i shouldn't feel pressured to get rid of things that i felt emotionally attached to. but at a certain point, the clothes being there became less of a comfort and more of a painful reminder. more of a hindrance.

but i did struggle with the idea of just giving all of the clothes away to strangers. Jarronn had a lot of clothes and loved clothes. it was hard removing items that i knew he loved. that i knew he'd worn on specific dates. that i knew he'd never gotten a chance to wear but had hoped to.

so i'm so thankful to the family and friends who took many of his items. his brother likely doubled his T-shirt collection. his boys got sweaters and business wear and shoes. some of my friends took an item here or there. and even my dad is walking around lynchburg, va getting compliments on how "cool" his new sneakers are. (yep, Jarronn and my dad were similar, even down to the shoe size). it means so very much to me to know that things Jarronn loved are with people he and i have loved.

there are still a few things left behind. some are things i gave him or just always loved. others are things i was slightly hesitant to give away, but when all of the choosing was done, they were still there, and i took it as my sign to just hold on to them. for now. for a little longer.

overall, with this kind of thing, you just hope that you're doing what the person who's gone would want. and you can never be sure. and maybe, if you're like me, you even jump back and forth between questioning if it really matters and resentful that you have to make the decision. so in the end, after the thinking and consideration and waiting and delaying and rallying...

you do what's best for you.

Monday, September 13, 2010

memory monday #3

football season is fully under way, and in honor of the nail-biting win the redskins had over the cowboys on sunday, i thought it best to post the memory below.

this one is from one of Jarronn's boys, derek aka "d. mitch." on september 13, derek wrote:

Well I couldn't lite a candle for my bro on 7/30 due to being out of town. I also find it difficult to face losing someone whom I hold dear to me. However, I found remembering Jarronn a little less difficult yesterday. As I fixed my plate of food, threw on my Redskins jersey and got ready for the season opener against the Cowgirls...excuse me, Cowboys (lol)...I happened to think about Jarronn and how hyped he would've been for this game. As I looked at a Redskins vs Cowboys diaper cake that my wife and I received at her baby shower (yes I married a Cowboys fan), I grabbed my boy's homegoing program off the mirror and put him right down on the cardboard football field where he could lite it up and cheer on the home team the way I know he would've if he was here. Last night was a good night for remembering Jarronn.

i'm so glad that derek and his wife rasheida have been able to maintain a beautiful marriage, in spite of their differences when it comes to football. Jarronn could deal with me being an eagles fan, but he told me and many other people that it would have been a deal breaker if i was a cowboys fan. :-)

i'm pretty convinced that he orchestrated the whole d. mcnabb trade to washington, because he was determined to make me a skins fan, even in the afterlife. and he would have gone absolutely nuts at the season opener. so i represented to the point where my voice is hoarse and a few cowboys fans left the game disliking me.

derek -- thanks for sharing this great memory and photo. you and rasheida have been amazing friends, and i know Jron would be incredibly proud of you.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

pacific nw

a couple of years ago, i got it in my mind that i wanted to travel out west. i guess i've had my share of island vacations, so i was looking for something different. so i started talking it up to Jarronn. telling him that it would be great to see some of the beautiful nature that the u.s. has to offer. and he seemed open to the idea.

last month, i finally took my trip. my mom and i spent nine days in the pacific northwest, traveling from california to oregon to washington to british columbia. and it was nothing short of fantastic.

we started by flying to san francisco, where we spent the day hanging out in union square, the yerba buena gardens, ghirardelli square, and alamo square.

on day 2, we headed north for a beautiful day in napa valley, which i definitely plan to visit again.

on day 3, we drove north on the california coast, driving on winding roads through beautiful redwood forests, until we reached mendocino, ca. we walked around the small town and down to it's beach. by the end of that day, i'd already reached the point where i needed to empty my camera so that i could take more photos. (i had a couple years worth on it, so it was long overdue).

on days 4 and 5, we set out on our drive north up the california coast and into oregon. driving along the coastline, the views were pretty phenomenal. and some of my favorite music playing from my ipod made it even better. (below are the ones that remind me most of Jarronn).
  1. for all we know - donny hathaway
  2. so amazing - luther vandross
  3. more of you - fred hammond
  4. thank you (i won't complain) - fred hammond
  5. simply put - fred hammond
  6. true love - stevie wonder
  7. caught up in the rapture - anita baker
  8. just the way you are - billy joel
  9. long distance - brandy
  10. to be free to be who we are - harold melvin & the blue notes
  11. coming home - john legend (the song i walked down the aisle to)
  12. again/another again - john legend
  13. the sweetest thing - lauryn hill
  14. joy ride - mariah carey
  15. gravity - sara bareilles
after 20 hours of driving, more than 1,000 miles, and one dirty little nissan versa, we arrived in portland, or. we spent a night there and visited their downtown farmers market, the ancient chinese gardens, and ate some great meals.

on day 6, we took the train north to seattle, wa. we enjoyed beautiful sunsets from our hotel's rooftop deck, and on day 7, we took a tour to mt. rainier -- the highest mountain in washington state and the cascades mountain region. breathtaking. and a tour guide straight out of some sitcom.

on day 8, we took the train to vancouver, british columbia. we had lunch at the art gallery and rented bikes and rode around the sea wall at stanley park.

on day 9, we woke up early and took a whale watching tour from vancouver to victoria -- the capitol of british columbia. it was quite the adventure with 10 ft. waves, but it was worth it to see the orca whales swimming in their natural habitat. (forget shamu!) we explored victoria for the day, and fortuitously stumbled upon the best breakfast/brunch restaurant on the island while trying to find a different restaurant.

my computer is acting slow, so trying to post photos from every day would take me hours. but you can check out the remainder of pics that i posted on facebook.

Jarronn didn't get to go on this trip with me. and i wished he could have seen it all. i cried along the way. while driving. on my pillow before going to sleep. even once while out to dinner. i missed along the way.  but i'm living. i've lived. my photos of friends and trips and special moments from the past year and this memorable trip remind me of that. i'm glad i've chosen to live.

and beautiful nature like what i saw reminds me that God is real. and big. and i'm small. not insignificant, but small. too small to make big plans and see big pictures. and that's ok.

Monday, September 6, 2010

memory monday #2

today's memory is from one of my long-time college friends, kwaku. he, of course, got the chance to know Jarronn through me. but he -- like many of my guy friends -- formed his own friendship with Jarronn along the way.

on july 23, kwaku shared two memories. the first had me cracking up, and the second made me shed a tear:

When Jess first told me about Jarronn
When I first got hired by the Department of Education, I would travel around the country and talk to students about financial aid.   One of my trips took me to beautiful Newark, New Jersey (there is nothing there).  I tried to figure out who I knew in the area, and Jess came to mind.  We decided to meet up for dinner and catch up. While we were eating, Jess started talking about this guy she was dating. I didn't know who the guy was, so I instantly started hating (which is my nature). She spoke about how good of a guy he was and how happy she was. She told me that if I was able to meet him, I would like him. Like I said before, I am a hater, especially when it comes to guys around my female friends.  Fortunately for Jess, she was correct. When I met Jarronn, he was probably one of the coolest guys I ever met. He was down-to-earth and relate-able and loved to laugh (he laughed at every one of my jokes). He made it difficult to hate on him.   I could understand why Jess was so in love and wanted to share her happiness with everyone.  

Jarronn and Morgan
One of my favorite moments with Jarronn was when we were all over at Mike and Ashley's place for a small get together.  Of course I brought my daughter with me, because you can't leave a 4-year-old home alone.  If you met my daughter, you know she is initially very shy but tends to warm up to people over time.  For some reason she was instantly cool with Jarronn.  While everyone else was talking about politics and other non-important things, Morgan and Jarronn were laughing and joking all night long.  By the end of the night, I literally had to drag Morgan home, she was having so much fun.  I know for a fact that Morgan would have been bored to death if it wasn't for Jarronn. 

When Jarronn died, I had to explain to my daughter what happened.  It was probably the hardest conversation I have had with her to date.   She told me that she was going to pray for Jess and Jarronn.  I thought she was just repeating what she heard other people say when you talk about death.  But later on that evening, she prayed without any encouragement that Jess would be OK and that God would take care of Jarronn.  To my knowledge, that is first time I heard Morgan pray about anything other than food.  It is funny how big of an impact you don't realize people have in the life of a child until they are not around.

thanks for sharing this, kwaku. i don't think i'll ever forget when Jarronn realized just how funny you were and felt the need to tell me about his discovery. :-) thanks for keeping me laughing through the tears. and please hug morgan for me!

if you'd still like to send me your memory or photos about Jarronn, you can at any time. email