the circle of life

July 28th was an emotional, yet fulfilling day. It began at my paternal grandmother Ruthie's grave, whom I lost to cancer 18 years ago. On August 4th, 2000, I returned back home from Jamaica with my maternal grandmother from our usual two week summer vacation. Non-optional LOL! Sadly, I found out my grandmother Ruthie passed away the day before I got back. The most gut-wrenching part of it all? My parents phoned me just days earlier asking if I wanted to cut my trip short, not disclosing how sick she was of course. I declined being that my trip was ending shortly.

In my selfish, naive, 10 year old mind it never occurred to me that I could lose my grandmother. I wasn't done living life with her. I knew she was sick but she survived breast cancer and I expected the same results with her colon cancer. Looking back, I cringe at how entitled I was. With age, I've learned to appreciate the time I had with her, but I won't lie and say the heartbreak goes away. It's something I've simply learned to cope with. I do often remind myself that saying "bye" wouldn't have made things easier but regret is human nature, especially in relation to death. My biggest fear: she left without knowing how much she meant to me but I feel her all the time. She's definitely my guardian angel. Our closeness never left.

On a lighter note, my maternal grandmother Gloria celebrated 73 wonderful years on this Earth! I ended my day at her birthday party. While I've always valued family, the weird parallel of life and death that day made me especially appreciative. It felt amazing to celebrate a woman whose dedicated her life to her children, grandchildren, and loved ones. I've never met a more giving, humble, loving person. I met new family and saw some I hadn't seen in years - aunts, uncles, and cousins who are like siblings due to my grandmother babysitting us for summers. To hear the kind words from family, friends of the family since before I was even born, and others she encountered was heartwarming. It was confirmation of what I already knew and had been experiencing literally my entire life.

Her bravery is the reason I live the life I do and I’m in no way naive to that. Had she not relocated to America from Jamaica, I wouldn't be here. My parents would've never met in that elevator in downtown Hartford, CT. As I looked around the room during her party, I was overcome with emotion. She was literally the creator of everything I cherished and loved in there. I spent my morning overwhelmed by the feeling of loss but was quickly reminded during my speech that there was still so much to be thankful for. My grandmother built a family of strong, independent, unique individuals. My aunt Christine made a good point during her speech, my grandmother gives unconditional love and support. Arguably the most powerful gift this life can offer - the freedom to be yourself, find yourself, and even re-create yourself without judgement. I'll forever cherish being able to tell my grandmother how much of an impact her life has made and it felt amazing to make new, positive memories in Connecticut. It's starting to feel like home again.

I also visited Mark Twain's beautiful home, a staple elementary school field trip for Connecticut natives, but this time I appreciated the history the writer's home had to offer. "Of all the beautiful towns it has been my fortune to see this is the do not know what beauty is if you have not been here." Twain said of Hartford in 1868. The quote is etched into a brick paved road in the heart of downtown Hartford. Shortly after, I met Grammy award-winning, reggae legend Mykal Rose of Black Uhuru at Busy Radio, a Caribbean radio station, owned and operated by my stepfather. After helping Mr. Rose navigate his emails (LOL) he premiered new music after an insightful interview. It was my first time being up close and personal with a Rastafarian - his humility and aura indescribable. You'd never know the man ran with the likes of Sly & Robbie, Shabba Ranks, and Beres Hammond, just to name a few!

See more photos below <3

"I am my own muse.

I am the subject I know best.

The subject I want to better." 

-Frida Kahlo