6 years ago on Friday April 11 at 11pm, I got a phone call. Me: Hey Mommy! [because caller ID] Mom: Brigette. Me: Yep. Mom: Your brother is dead. Me: Claude? Mom: Yes. Me: Huh? Are you sure? You mean Claude? Mom: The police are here... 10 hours later I walked through her door in DC. Thanks to my friend Justin for sitting with me all night as I sorted myself to get home. Thanks to the flight attendants that day who treated me so kindly as I sat in my first class seat (thanks to Goldman I had special status and always got upgraded) and sucked down mimosas on a 6am flight. Thanks to Keziah who was the first person I called and who called Justin who dropped everything and ran over immediately. Thanks to all of the people who lifted me up then and now. I don’t love April anymore but I’m also not filled with sadness. By contrast I have a deep sense of gratitude and experience joy and peace on different levels than I ever did before. How sway?
When a bomb like that goes off in your life you have a choice. I’m not a hero, I chose this path out of hedonism (my number one core personality trait and drive) and the basic survival instinct we all share. That choice is to be crushed by sorrow or to vibrate to a higher plane. I am constantly seeking that higher plane. Like literally all. The. Time. It’s totally working. I feel an elevation and it’s amazing. A few months before we lost him I went vegan and got Taco. That is absolutely a big part of how I’ve managed life without my natural life partner for over half a decade, and navigated through the treacherous implications thereof, and the financial strain, and the massive sudden increase in responsibility. #adulting #gotacogo More importantly like many siblings we ebbed and flowed and when he died we were in an ebb. That’s not a secret. It doesn’t mean he wasn’t my favorite day one homey. It just meant we were in a stormy season. We weren’t even Facebook friends at that moment! Cuz I used be petty sometimes. I’m not petty like that anymore. I’d like to think he knows now if he didn’t then, how much I loved him unconditionally even though we had beef.
Some people have said and accused me of vile things related to this but it was simply a case of adult siblings navigating adult sibling issues and we each gave as good as we got. TRUST. I see people go through this with their brothers and sisters every damn day. They just usually get a chance to find their flow again. We didn’t. Simple. Note: make sure you keep those beefs handled and squashed with folks you would wish you could say one more thing to if they were to disappear in the blink of an eye. Of course Claude hasn’t disappeared at all. He’s present in my life every moment. It’s a huge lesson in the presence of a person even after their physical body is gone. I swear he sits by my bed some nights. I can hear his voice, I can smell him, we talk. He keeps me company and looks after me. Not in a weird sad or anything way. It just is. But, I would prefer it the other way. I post this not for sympathy but to honor a beautiful and talented artist and man, my brother Claude Akil Nadir né Claude William Lumpkins II who was brilliant and earnest and sincere and hard working and FUNNY and honest and generous and loving and sensitive and kind. He raised a beautiful daughter whom it is my privilege to look after (finally) and of whom I couldn’t be more proud.
A man whose heart maybe was too tender at the end for this world and had given all he could afford to give. I will love him forever and I will honor him until my last breath. I will never stop missing his physical form but I feel connected to him now in ways I never did. I am grateful for the ways I have matured and grown in the last six years and while I’d rather be the sometimes petty and often anxious and depressed and less self aware person I used to be and have him literally here, I see the value in being a better person now and honestly, I’ve never been more peaceful.
- Contributed by BL