The Old Man and the Banana Hammock

There’s an old man at this resort with rubber skin – he clearly spends far too much time in the sun and it has taken its toll on his skin.  Every morning he’s out early to secure his favorite spot, a lounge chair by the pool that faces the resort restaurant.  By the time we get to breakfast, he is sprawled out on his chair trying to catch as much sun as he possibly can.  This wouldn’t be so bad, except that he is clad in only a banana hammock.

I would call it a speedo but that would be far too modest a description for this decorative loin cloth.  He wears a different one every day – in 5 days I have not seen it repeated once.  I wish I could tell you that I hadn’t noticed but, unfortunately, his chair faces our breakfast table. Each time I look up after a bite, he’s there etching an unwanted sight into my memory.

There is already a lot on this blog that is formulated based on opinion or the perspective I’ve gained after 34 years of life.  The advice I’m about to give you, however, is a fact; please trust me on this.

DO NOT wear a speedo or anything like it – ever.  Unless you are a competitive swimmer and they have banned swim shorts, pants, and bodysuits, you should not wear these garments.  If I ever wear one in public (or even in private for that matter), you have my approval to admit me into a mental institution.

Thank you.

Storm Clouds in Barbados

Before I begin, I just want to note that, for conveniences I may stop referring to everyone as they relate to you. This is for no reason other than it is easier to write names or relations to me than it is to my kids. Anyway, on to this entry.

Between last night and this morning we heard some very sad news about the father of one of my closest friends (we’ll abbreviate the names of the couple to whom I’m about to refer to V and A). I’ll skip the details here but, tragically, A lost her father.

The past 18 months have been very difficult for us and for our friends. Your grandfather has been going through treatment for cancer, as has another friend’s father. Three of my close friends (including A) have lost their fathers as well. Also, your great-grandmother, my mom’s mom, passed away.

For all I have been through thus far in life (which isn’t much in the grand scheme of things), death is one area in which I am thankful that I don’t have much wisdom in. That said, these 18 months have forced me to think about the mortality of us all – from my parents, to me, and even to you. To be honest, this played a big part in why I started writing this blog. God forbid, should something happen to me, I hope these messages live on for you to read and reread, as lasting communications from me to you – all of my children.

I wish I had advice to give you, a way to never feel loss in your lives but, unfortunately, this is something that I don’t have the answer to. Perhaps dealing with death is part of the experience of living – I don’t know – but I do know that this is easy for me to say without facing this experience myself. I also know that the loss of a close loved one will be extremely difficult, will hurt tremendously, and may change me in ways I cannot imagine. This is why it pains me to think about A and what she and her family are going through.

Back in 2006, I learned of a back injury that I supposedly had since birth. This back injury has led to the misalignment of my back, occasional pain, and a lot of self-consciousness about its impact on me. At the time I learned of the injury, I thought a lot about my love of dance, my love of basketball, and how much longer I would be able to partake in these passions before they were taken from me. It was difficult and, I didn’t realize it then, but it took its toll on me. V & A clearly saw this. One evening, during the week, the doorbell rang and I found them at the door. They said they were in the neighborhood and thought they’d stop by to say hello. Still, I know the truth is that they came to check upon me and to cheer me up, even if for a moment.

I have never forgotten this moment of kindness on their parts and I’m reminded of it today, at a time when A feels something far worse than I did back in 2006. If A read this, she would jokingly argue that I remember everything, which is really why I remember this, but the truth is that their gesture meant the world to me. I feel sorry that I am in Barbados when I could be helping and I want to be there for her as she and V were for me.

It’s difficult to know how to really be there for someone at a time like this. Some people want space, while others want to talk about it – I don’t really think there’s a right answer. I do feel though that saying something is better than saying nothing, because I think I’d appreciate even the smallest thought from my friends in that situation. Beyond that, I think it is important for us to be patient and wait for our time to contribute. We can’t let our desire to contribute become a burden on those whom we want to help. While I haven’t spoken to A, I’ve been in touch with V. I’m glad she has the support of V, her family, and her closer friends to rely upon as needed. V is great in times like these and will know exactly how to be there for her, of this I have no doubt. When we finally see A, I hope I do right by her – whether it be acting like an idiot to make her laugh (clearly my specialty is acting like an idiot), listening, or just going about as we normally would.

I am truly sorry that this has happened and I honestly wish I could make it better for them. A, please know that you and your family have constantly been in our thoughts and that we are here for you whenever you need us.