The Frailty of Life — Please See Your Doctor…

The Frailty of Life — Please See Your Doctor…

I’m struggling with my emotions this morning. Late Sunday night, I discovered that a friend, George Cholakis, suddenly passed away while at a Miami Dolphins football game. I’m completely saddened and stunned. Not more than 2 weeks before, we laid another friend to rest, J.C. Dugue. He passed away from a massive heart attack just before Hurricane Irma hit.

These gentlemen were attorneys that were a few years ahead of me in my legal career. J.C., who was a defense attorney, knew me pretty much my entire career as a prosecutor. His sense of humor always added levity to tense moments as we stood across from each other on opposite sides of the courtroom. Just looking at him sometimes would have me in stitches. He was just that way.

George was helpful to me as a young prosecutor, as I was floundering (as we all did) to stay afloat with the heavy caseload. He’d often have words of encouragement, or the right answer when the judge was grilling me. He was senior to me, having tried intense homicide cases. He was kind, always pleasant, down to earth, and a fun guy. A few years ago, a really tragic incident occurred that pretty much cost him everything. George took responsibility, and started from scratch to rebuild. He began his own legal practice, and brought the same personality that he always had to his new line of work. I had such respect for George in doing so. Sometimes when folks fall down, they never get back up. He did, which showed the strength of his character.

What bewilders me is that they were not old. I know, the definition of “old” tends to shift as one ages upward, but I’m talking maybe 10 years older than me. I get it — when you hit your 70’s and 80’s, you expect to lose friends. Not in your 40’s.

Earlier this year, we lost two more members of our legal community to suicide. We all were devastated, and started work among our voluntary bar organizations to address depression. We lost J.C. and George to natural causes. Now, it’s time for us to talk about self care of not just the mind, but the body as well.

It takes wild horses for me to drag the men in my life to the doctor. I joke that for my husband and my dad, if an arm fell off, they’d pick it up and keep going, still refusing to go to the doctor. We have to be more forceful about getting the ones we love to the doctor, and heeding whatever warnings are given.

And, we ourselves need to take responsibility for our own health. Taking on too much, unmanaged stress, and ignoring what our bodies tell us is the formula for a fatal disaster.

We have to take care of each other. The pain of those left behind is immeasurable.

RIP J.C. and George.

They said it would get better….

They said it would get better….

They said it would get better,

After losing my mom.
They said it would get better.
In a way, it has 
I went from wailing to weeping, 

weeping to crying, 

crying to shedding tears. 

Each & Every Mother’s Day, 

six of them, 

since she’s been gone.
What I would give for one more day;

One more hour.

But, I did inherit her pragmatism.

I know in the end, the outcome will still be the same. 

It pains me to say Happy Mother’s Day to others. It’s not their fault; it’s my own pain. I never mean it to be cruel but it is hard for me to acknowledge this day

It’s harder for me than April 21, the day of her passing 

So I do what I know how to do best; 

Grind. 

Work.

In the hope that some where on the other side of the river Jordan, 

she sees and she is proud

I miss you Ma. 

#TBT: Grief During the Holidays

#TBT: Grief During the Holidays

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Hi RLD Family,

I know some of you have lost loved ones this year as I have.  It is tough going through the holidays — you are joyful on one hand, because the year has come to an end and you get to spend time with those you love. On the other hand, there is always an empty seat at the table as well as in your heart.  Here is a piece I wrote on surviving the holidays when grieving — I hope this helps you get through it. 

Hugs!

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Tips for Grieving

  • Take it day by day, minute by minute. Don’t think beyond today. It’s easier that way.
  • It’s a rollercoaster. You will feel a ton of emotions – anger one minute, crying the next, laughing for a moment. It’s totally normal although it feels weird. You’re working through all those memories and emotions at the same time, and that’s how it manifests itself. Take it one step at a time, and allow yourself to feel whatever it is you are feeling without judgment.

Read the other tips here.

Who’s In Your Corner?

Who’s In Your Corner?

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My mom always had a saying “always know who is in your corner”. 

She meant it in the way of not following friends at the expense of those who truly support you. I’m not sure if she intended it as a boxing metaphor, but if she did I wouldn’t be surprised. My mom was a super classy lady who could speak with authority on any sport. It’s still tough accepting she is gone nearly 5 years later, but her gems of wisdom remain.

As I have grown older, I now understand fully the meaning of her statement. Her words came to me full throttle in the last week, which has been a tumultuous one in my life. This week, I laid my auntie (her sister) to rest. I took it quite hard, because they were so close, and she was very present in my life. She endured the loss of her baby sister (my mom) in 2012, and my uncle in 2014. When she told me she was ready to go home to the Lord, I totally got it. It’s tough because unfortunately, you reach a point where you start to measure your mortality based on those who have passed. I’m there. As I prepared for the memorial service, some drama ensued. A dear friend of mine who used to work with me messaged me and said “I’d like to come by the service. Any auntie of yours is an auntie of mine“. I literally burst into tears.

Know who is in your corner.

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RIP Aunt Veda and Uncle Joel. Us during better times in 2013

I had an intense murder trial last week that ultimately resulted in a not guilty verdict. It’s tough, because as any prosecutor will tell you, you believe in your case. Sometimes you go in thinking “these facts are awful, but I know he’s guilty”. Other times you think your case is strong. For me, it was the latter. But what was equally as painful for me as the verdict is that someone who I thought was a friend showed me they were not. Sometimes the illusion of friendship is stronger than the reality. The key is to see this clearly and govern your life accordingly.

Know who is in your corner.

But, as challenging as this week was, I received some wonderful news that will result in a major life change in 2017. (More on that in a later post, stay tuned!). My husband is practically doing backflips; I am more cautiously optimistic. I think he and I take turns on being the dreamer or the pragmatic in the marriage. But looking at him reminds me of how blessed I am to truly have someone that is truly hard core in my corner. My “Ride or die” if you will.

Who is in your corner? As this year ends, take stock. For those who have supported you, make sure to tell them how much they mean to you. Those folks are rare, and our time here on Earth is limited. Those who don’t support you in word and in deeds, cut them loose. You can fly higher as well as faster with less weight.

To conclude on a cheerier note…I thought this song was so cheesy when it came out, but heaven knows it’s applicable.

 

M.

Goodbye My Dear Friend…

Goodbye My Dear Friend…

On Thursday I laid my friend Cecy to rest.IMG_3505

I can’t even get my mind around the fact that she’s gone.

It doesn’t make sense; one minute she’s here and we’re joking around, the next minute her heart gave out, and in a few days she was gone.

Cecy was my assistant at work for close to five years. She was my right hand, and my confidante. She was the cool auntie you had drinks with — a few years ahead of me in age, filled with life experience and great advice. Not only did she keep my cases together, she kept my head together during some very challenging years of my life.

What I adored about her was her good heart. The love story she had with her husband Tony, and the journey to love the second time around inspired me, giving me hope when I was in a dark place before meeting my husband. I was working through the aftermath of a destructive relationship — she was an amazing support.  She had the ability to have me in stitches, while simultaneously telling me to get myself together. She was an amazing mom, and so thrilled to become a new grandma. I will never forget the unabashed joy on her face at my wedding — that mental picture will stay with me forever.

Although I was frightened, I went to see her at the hospital. Through the tubes and machines, I saw my friend. I kissed her, told her I loved her, and cracked a few jokes about the fun things we were going to do after this scare was over. I tried desperately to keep a brave face in front of her husband and family. I got into the elevator with my husband, and an uncontrollable wail came from the depths of my soul.

Because although my mind said that she can get past this and be fine, my heart already knew the truth.

That truth was confirmed two days later.

I hope I hugged her enough.

I hope she knew how much I cared.

I hope she knew what an amazing soul she was.

My heart is so broken.

Rest in peace Cecy.

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Eternal Love! 15 Photos Of David Bowie & Iman Over The Years

Serpentine Gallery Summer Party
UNITED KINGDOM – JULY 09: David Bowie & Wife Iman, The Serpentine Gallery Summer Party In London. (Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images)

While the world has lost an incredibly creative music icon in David Bowie, supermodel and businesswoman Iman has lost the love of her life. I look at the pictures, and my heart utterly breaks for her. I have always been fascinated by the couple–both successful in their own right, strong, and went against the grain without hesitation. I admired the fact that although their art was edgy, their personal life seemingly was not.  They were not in the news with infidelity, fights and foolishness. I’m sure they had their ups and downs like every couple, but they were able to keep it out of the public eye. In the days of Kimye and other publicity stunt couples, the dignity of David and Iman will be sorely missed.

I see the love in these pictures, and as a wife, I grieve for her.

Life is short — live hard, love harder, and tell the people that mean something to you that you love them

Visit my friends at GlobalGrind below for more pictures.

Source: Eternal Love! 15 Photos Of David Bowie & Iman Over The Years

Living Through Loss During the Holidays

Living Through Loss During the Holidays

Since Thanksgiving, I have had several friends who have lost parents or close family members.  There’s nothing worse than grieving during the holidays.  Here are some ways to get through it — from my own experience in losing my mother and turning into the ultimate Grinch.

Tips for Grieving

  • Take it day by day, minute by minute. Don’t think beyond today. It’s easier that way.
  • It’s a rollercoaster. You will feel a ton of emotions – anger one minute, crying the next, laughing for a moment. It’s totally normal although it feels weird. You’re working through all those memories and emotions at the same time, and that’s how it manifests itself. Take it one step at a time, and allow yourself to feel whatever it is you are feeling without judgment.
  • If is the most evil word in the English language. You may be feeling “if” I did xyz the outcome would have been different. When you feel that, make a list of the things you think you “should” have done, and list the things you DID do. It may be longer than you think — especially if you cared for an ailing parent, relative or loved one.
  • It’s OK to be mad at God. You may ask, why did God put me through this? Why did I have to watch my loved one suffer? Why did it have to end this way? We never get to know why. Being mad at God is normal in the short term. But know this…in the next few years, you will see a shift (hopefully positive) in the lives that your loved one touched. People will make decisions to honor the person; people will feel emboldened to make decisions because of the person. Your loved one’s spirit resides with you to guide you in times of need. Literally I have heard my mother’s voice in times of need, so I speak truth in this. It is not the same as having the person there, but it is a really strong force. This never answers the question why…but our lives are intertwined as part of a greater plan.
  • Have compassion for yourself. If you were a primary caregiver, your compassion has been focused on your loved one, for their pain and suffering. Now, it is time to take care of yourself. It is time for you to heal from the stress, the pain and go through the grieving process. Turn the compassion that you sent outwards inwards to heal yourself.
  • Take it easy on yourself. There is no standard for grieving; you do what you can when you can. Don’t force yourself to be somewhere emotionally where you are not. If the thought of going to a party, smiling and being festive makes you sick, don’t go! If you get to a party and can’t handle it, it’s ok to leave.
  • Everyone grieves differently. Men and women can be different. My husband went back to work the next week after losing his mother; another male friend of mine went to work the next day after losing his mother. I needed a few days and still was not in good shape.
  • Everyone takes their own time to recover. Some say a year later “you should be over this”. Says who? Everyone heals differently. I was very close with my mother, so losing her was really hard. I’ve had other friends who had a strained relationship with their family, but healed even more slowly because things were left unsaid.
  • Relinquish control. As strong people (especially as women), we usually have control over work and our lives. It’s rare we have something that we totally can’t control. Health, life and emotions we cannot control no matter how hard we try. So just let go. It’s easier said than done, but give it a shot.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of a funeral. Funerals are more than just a ceremony. It’s the hardest moment in your life; but it helps bring closure. During the funeral, you will hear things about your loved one that will surprise you, make you laugh, touch you, and that will stay with you forever.
  • Each day will be different. Some days you can get out bed, others you want to die. Real talk. But it does get better eventually.
  • Friends will let you down, and kindness will come from the strangest places. Your friends (especially if they have not had a loss of someone close) may draw away from you, because they are afraid of saying the wrong thing. And there are other random folks who you are not close with who will totally lift you up. It’s not their fault or a reflection on your friendship.
  • Get therapy if you need it. Don’t be afraid to talk about it to someone who is objective and not involved. They won’t get sick of hearing you say the same thing over and over again.
  • Life will never be the same. But you will find a new normal.

This post is dedicated to the memory of my mother, Merle Pearson who absolutely loved Christmas.  I also dedicate this post to all who are grieving this season. I’m sending you a huge hug.

M.

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Rest In Peace Former Director Bobby Parker

Rest In Peace Former Director Bobby Parker

bobby parker 2 This past Saturday, former Miami-Dade Police Department Director Robert “Bobby” Parker was laid to rest. He  retired in 2009 after rising through the ranks to become the first African American in the department’s top job. Director Parker was named Miami-Dade Police Director in 2004 by then Miami Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez. Director Parker joined the force in 1976 and quickly worked his way up the ranks. He spent 33 years in the eighth largest police department in the US, doing what he did best — protecting, serving and mentoring.

My memory of him was sitting next to him in 2009, as we were giving commencement speeches to the police academy class. We had met casually before, but this was the first extended contact I had with him. When he gave his speech, he  reminded the young officers that the police uniform will bring new attention, so do not forget who you started out with. 

I thought to myself “wow, things are that hectic that the Director has to tell folks not to cheat on their partners?”

But, he was right, and it was sage advice.

Throughout my career I had seen (and continue to see) officers get caught up in power and following the crowd — in the process, destroying their families. Bobby’s words of staying grounded rang so true; I often wondered how many of those new officers heeded his advice.

Since that day, we ran into each other frequently at community events. He always had an easy smile, and a great demeanor. I saw the many causes we shared in common, and that he had a genuine concern for the next generation, especially young African American men.

I had been out of town the last few weeks at the National Black Prosecutors Conference, and attending family matters, returning to discover he had passed away…and at his own hand.

It was right after his 62nd birthday

My heart broke into a million pieces.

I don’t know what happened. All I can say is this. Never be afraid to ask for help, no matter where you are in life. There is no shame in going to therapy; there is no weakness in speaking to someone about your problems. Who cares what is “macho” or not!

If someone comes to you wanting to talk, don’t blow it off or turn them away. We need to take care of each other, and find coping mechanisms to deal with the stress of life before it overwhelms us. If you sense a friend is in trouble, just ask the question.  Put aside whatever “bro-code”. I know we have to respect the privacy of others, but also follow your gut if you sense something.

And yes I will say it. My fellow African Americans, we have to stop this stigma of “therapy and depression is a White people thing”. Because it’s not — it’s real. Depression doesn’t stop to check what race you are before it invades your mind and destroys your spirit. Depression is killing us in different ways; therapy, medications, and other healthy coping mechanisms can help sort things out.

And guess what?

There are African American therapists, so cultural sensitivity is not a problem.

My mother always had a saying “Once there is life, there is hope”.

There is no problem without a solution, you just may need help finding it.

So please. Help yourself. Help each other.

Bobby, rest in peace. You left us way too soon.

My deepest condolences to the Parker family, and to my brothers and sisters in blue who are grieving right now.

M.

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Happy 4th Mother’s Day in Heaven, Ma…

Happy 4th Mother’s Day in Heaven, Ma…

It’s been 3 years, but 4 Mother’s Days without you, and I still miss you. Sending up big hugs and kisses. 

Much love to all the mothers out there…but a special shout out to all who are missing their mothers today. Jenna Rose wrote a beautiful letter addressing being without your mom on Mother’s Day for USA Today…couldn’t have said it better myself. Check it out here.

If you’ve got your mom, hug her and kiss her for me.

If you don’t, I’m sending you a hug.

One love,

M.