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.
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 firstAfrican 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.
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.
It was April 21, 2012. My mother had been battling cancer for three years. I was running errands, and got a call from the hospice nurse. With her sweet Creole accent, she tells me ” Ms. Melba, your mom decided to leave us this morning”
And with those words, life as I knew it ceased to exist.
Sounds dramatic. But it’s so true. Yes, the sun continued to rise and set, life continued, another Bond movie was released, no one else missed a beat.
But I did. My father did. Our close relatives and friends did as well.
There is something uniquely intense when it’s your mom. Soul groups, hip hop artists like Tupac, and country singers have all sung about their love for their mothers. She’s the only person that literally pushed you into this world. And if you were as blessed as I was to have a close relationship with your mom, it’s a hole that never quite gets filled.
Life has a weird way of working. Eight months before, my husband lost his mother. I remember emailing my mom a lot during that time, trying to figure out how to help him. Loss and death is truly something you have NO concept of until it happens to you. She gave me a lot of great advice, sharing with me the pain and sometimes resentment she felt towards others for still having their mothers while she had lost hers, along with the simultaneous guilt she felt for having those emotions.
In a way…she was teaching me how to grieve for her.
It’s been two years now. I remember the kindness that people I wasn’t that close to showed me. I remember being disappointed in those who were close to me for not being as supportive. One thing is for sure: people deal with loss differently, and you need to forgive those who have no clue how to deal with you.
Losing your mom makes you part of this weird kind of club. When you’ve been through it, you get it. When you find out that someone has that loss, you immediately act, and try to comfort them, even if they are practically a stranger.
I still hear her voice, telling me her Mama Pearson-isms. Such as “There’s more behind you than in front of you“, “Can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear“, and the most relevant one to my life at present, “When it’s for you, it is for you, and nothing will stop it from happening.” I love her classic when it comes to advancement in the workforce, “If you can’t jump up, don’t jump around“.
This past Easter Sunday, I kept hearing her voice say “Happy Easter!”, with that sweet upbeat tempo. My mom loved every holiday; somehow I’m a grinch, but appreciated how cute she was. Last month, on the morning of the two year anniversary of her passing, I had a dream. She was running late for work, and said she was going to leave. I asked her to stay a little longer. She said to me “I will stay for as long as I can”.
And I believe it was true. She did stay for as long as she could.
When she was undergoing the awful treatment for cancer, she reached a point where she realized that nothing was going to work. The tumors were not shrinking. Her nurse later revealed to me that they had an understanding– continue the treatment so that she could attend my wedding, and once she came back, she would let nature take its course. To me, that is a true testament of my mother’s love for me.
In some ways, I’ve become my mom. She was classy, responsible, very blunt and had an amazing sense of self that only comes from overcoming adversity. For sure I’m responsible…and have become very blunt!
I’ve also realized that losing your mom makes you that much stronger, because once you’ve been through that pain…there’s not a whole lot (other than the loss of a spouse/partner) that can ever hurt you that deeply again.
RIP Mama Pearson. Love you and miss you. And please continue to speak to me, as well as through me.