“Roll down your windows, crank up the music, and grow out that ‘fro” – William Hill
I spent today doing what I’ve done at least half a dozen times this year–bawl my eyes out at the “Memphis” episode of “This Is Us.” This episode originally aired on February 21st, two days before my birthday. This brilliant hour of television had such a profound impact upon how I lived my life this year. Living my life with a clear understanding that all of our days are numbered may seem a bit morbid, but this reminder of death certainly made me more present and aware of my life this year.
This truth came into incredibly sharp focus just over a week ago as my family and I lost my beloved second oldest nephew, Chris, suddenly at the age of 29. While all of our hearts are still wounded from his departure, it did my heart proud to hear all of the beautiful and heartfelt accolades from his close circle of friends and the community he so selflessly served as an assistant basketball coach at the Baltimore City Community College.
As the lid lowered on his casket, I immediately recognized that everything that I was worrying and fearing before his death on December 23rd was completely IRRELEVANT. I understood that the TRUE value of life is not measured in dollars and cents, but in the light and love that you genuinely deposit into someone else’s heart. As I stood at his service to give short remarks to honor his life, my heart was overjoyed to see that the chapel was STANDING ROOM ONLY and to see just what a brilliant and beautiful light my beloved nephew shared in the world.
I woke early this morning to take in the sunrise and to marvel at the sky as it was awash in beautiful hues of orange and purple. I was glad to see another day and another ending of a calendar year, but at the same time it felt unfair and cruel to enjoy something that my nephew will never be able to experience again on this side of heaven.
As I take my time to grieve and honor my nephew and to reflect yet again of the brilliant acting of Sterling K. Brown and Ron Cephas Jones, I know that my only job is 2018 is to open up this laptop, crack open my journal, and get to the business of being ON MY PURPOSE and write MORE. There’s a book of essays I need to finish. There are more young people I need to inspire with the written word. There is so much more I need to say and I don’t have another moment to waste.
Death has a way of putting your LIVING into perspective. Tomorrow isn’t promised to ANYONE. But we can’t live under the shadow of death. Our job is to create more light and to shine it even more brightly to honor our loved ones who have gone on before us. As William admonishes his son Randall on his death bed, “Roll down your windows, crank up the music, and grow out that ‘fro.” Get into this moment NOW. We don’t have another minute to wait for you to get over your fears. We need that business plan you’ve been sitting on. We need that book you’ve been waiting to write. We need that song you love to sing in the shower to come out from behind the stall and fill our hearts. LIFE is for LIVING, LOVING, CREATING, and CELEBRATING. Yes, we honor our human faults, hurts, disappointments, and scrapes, but life behooves us to get the lesson as quickly as possible so that we can get on with the business of LIVING.
I pray that your final hours of 2017 will be spent in reflection and gratitude and that you will open your hearts to living more AUTHENTICALLY and JOYOUSLY in 2018.