“If I sit and think about my brother too long, it won’t be these clothes that I burn, it will be the world and everyone in it.” — Shuri.

About a month and a half after his 53rd birthday, my father lost his life to a brain tumor. The truth is, he was gone long before then; the mass situated itself in such a way on his cortex that it caused him to lose much of his cognitive ability. I think I knew our family was out of options long before the doctors told us in late summer that all we could do was wait for the inevitable. On a beautiful afternoon in early October 2011, that fate came to pass. He was gone. 

When trauma happens to the body, it moves into fight or flight mode. I entered into some weird hybrid of both—a flying fight if you will. I buried myself in my collegiate school work, determined to achieve a perfect GPA that semester. It was important to me to cover myself in armor—vibranium of my own—to show I was strong enough to withstand the events that had occurred.

The problem with burying yourself in distractions is that you don’t allow yourself to grieve. Emotions linger beneath the surface far enough away to believe you’re OK but close enough that the slightest thing can cause them all to bubble up. Returning home for the holidays without anything to devote myself to as our family experienced a series of firsts without him left me hollowed out. And angry.