The first time I fell in love I was seventeen years old. I met this young man while in high school, and I thought he was the funniest and most charming person alive. I lived for our nightly talks on the phone. When we both went off to college, we ran up astronomical phone bills talking for hours as he was in one state and I was in another. We lived just to hear each other breathe. Our love was naïve. Our love was dramatic. Our love was catastrophic when it ended. I vowed never to love another person like that again, and I have not.
His name was Daoud Ali and this past Saturday; he ascended from this life. When I was sent a message to call our mutual friend as soon as possible, I knew in my spirit that he passed away. No matter if time or space disconnected us, our souls connected us by the deep love we once shared.
I stayed home all-day Sunday to mourn and grieve the loss of my friend. I thought about our times sitting next to one another in high school history class, and the moments we shared during my college homecoming festivities. I reminisced on the holidays we shared together and him devouring plates of my Mom’s fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. The laughs were countless and the memories I will cherish.
I chose not to leave my house because I wanted to feel all of my feelings. I didn’t want to be strong and put on a face of normalcy when I felt so weak. I lit candles, wrote in my journal, I prayed, I cried, I whaled, and I screamed. At no point did I tell myself, to suck it up and get over it. I lost a person who helped shape my life; I deserved to feel.
When I woke up Monday morning, I felt refreshed, and my spirit felt at peace. I was ready to go back into the world without force because I afforded myself the opportunity to sit in the pool of my emotions. Instead of running from my feelings, I ran toward them and said, “bring it on.”
In our culture, we have been taught to keep going despite the harsh realities of our pain. We lose relatives, friends, and pets and immediately go back to work, school or church and never stop to feel our loss. We surround ourselves with people and force ourselves back into the hustle of life without giving ourselves a moment to breathe and connect with the divine spirit within.
When you love someone and lose them, you owe yourself time mourn. There will be shock, numbness, hurt, and pain, but feel it all. Your strength is found in your weakest moments.
Daoud Ali, you taught me about love, forgiveness and pointed me in the direction of loving myself. You served as one of the great loves of my life, and for that, I am eternally grateful for the time we shared. “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, but love leaves a memory no one can steal.” Travel light my friend. You deserve a peaceful rest.