If anyone ever asked me who my number one fan was, is, and forever will be, I'd proudly tell them: Cheap Seats Terry.
He has been a reader of my blog for years, waaaay before I got the chance to know him. He lurks something terrible and back in the day, I would look at my blog stats and wonder "Who is this Radioflyer person milling around on my blog?"
You know, I have no idea why a scotch drinkin', cigar smokin' middle age white man would like my blog so much... mystified me to no end. He remembers the detail of post, stuff I don't even remember. Can psychoanalyze things going on with my writing, and be correct in his thoughts about it...
So I started reading his blog... and was captivated by his words.
(Blogger King 2nd 68 has been trying to figure out how to nominate a white dude for a Black Blogger Award. Yes, we like his blog that much.)
He and Nikki have been close friends for years. Whenever they would have disagreements, I would tell Nikki, "Terry is my Daddy. Do not upset my Daddy!"
He is a big fan of our writing, and always pushed for me and Nikki to work with each other. Not sure why he was wailing about that, but me and Nikki were doing that anyway. As a result Nikki and I had our own writing crew of 2, combining our blog names:
The Iniquitous Oldgirl Critique Team
(Nikki and I had much fun with that, reading each other's stories, discussing and fussing... You wouldn't believe the depth and breath of Nikki's writing. It goes FAR above and beyond what she did on her blog).
Terry, in addition to being a VP of his company, also writes screenplays, and does his thing out in Hollywood (he tells the craziest stories about this - some of which frighten me). When he approached me about becoming his writing partner, I almost lost my mind. Didn't understand why, but whatever... I said yes. I learn much from him anyway, but was gonna pick his brain for more. We had dinner back in January when he was in town, and afterwards, I handed him (with shaky hands), a folder containing my 20 page addition to an unfinished script he'd been working on, and wanted to get my thoughts on.
I wondered what he'd say: He called me once he got back to Cali and talked my ear off about how brilliant I was. He is constantly calling me "Partna!" We got this synergistic thing going on... and I like that...
And he has always talked about how brilliant Nikki was.
It just broke my heart when I was talking to Hassan the day after Nikki passed. Hassan was worried about Terry.
"I have to drive out to LA. I have to go pick my brother up off the floor."
Terry is devastated. He and I have been talking back and forth over the past couple of months, with me hollering "She look alright! She's gonna be just find."
Terry and I talked for over 4 hours on Thursday night. He's one more person who has filled in the blanks for me. He had to hear me wail. I listened to him express his anger. I must say, that I am somewhere near the acceptance point.
Near, but not quite there yet.
I miss my friend. He misses his friend. We miss our friend.
He wrote a poem, Never, to Nikki, and his words are poignant as always.
He also posted his thoughts, which I'm posting here.
As always, Terry, you do have a way with words. And we learn important life lessons in the process.
I’m a tad bit tired today. Lots of reasons really, like many people I’m pretty much emotionally drained. I’ve cried tears until I can cry them no more, and I’ve hurt until I’m pretty much numb. My mind stays occupied with glowing memories and I’m still coming to grips with the way my new life maps out. But as I said, there are many out there today just like me. Some, even more so.
Plus, it didn’t help that Hassan and I stayed out all last night comforting each other with stories about our friend. But in that moment, we realized something very important.
Over the next several weeks people who have never met will meet. People who have known each other from afar will now be close. New friendships will be created and old ones will be made stronger. Bonds will be affirmed as we all rally around the memory of this magnificent woman. And oh how magnificent she was.
I am reminded that your life mathematically should always be unbalanced. You should always be adding to it, more than you are subtracting from it. It’s what fills our hearts and minds that makes us better today, than we were yesterday. Through Anika, many of us have, and will continue, to be adding. My dilemma will always be, will what I have added because of her, be worth the subtraction of losing her? Never in my heart, but the reality is she created enough momentum to make sure her loss would always be covered in my intellect.
Much of this addition will take place when the people of her life will be saying goodbye. It’s ironic really if you think about it. We all have lost so much, but even in our hour of grief, Anika will be making sure those who have been left behind, know how to support each other.
I myself will not be there. Despite Hassan’s best efforts, (and Lis, he really did try), I will not be going to Atlanta. I don’t do funerals and despite the great love I have for Anika, hers will be the one I could never attend. As my friend A.J. said, “Funerals are a morbid ritual if you think about it”. A ritual that I simply can’t handle. But others will be there. Those who love her and care about her. It does my heart good to know that.
I once heard it said that no one ever speaks ill of the dead, its tradition. I have also heard it said that we tend to glorify those who have passed in the moments of mourning, perhaps more than we should. And I am sure for some all of this is true. But not for Anika. The trail of tears and broken hearts she has left behind, tells us all just how special she is.
If I may, I would like to offer up this personal memory. I told Anika that I loved her countless times. Just about every time we spoke. I asked her once if I should maybe scale back on that a bit for feeling I may have become a little wishy-washy. Most who know her will tell you while Anika could communicate with the written word with the best of them, having a conversation with her could be challenging at best. I often reminded her that at times she didn’t verbally communicate well. In which she would reply, “Whatever!”
Anyway, I wasn’t expecting much when I asked my question, but once again, Anika took the opportunity to add.
She simply said, “I don’t think people tell each other they love them enough. We wait until we can never say it to them again, and then feel bad about it.”
One more thing added. One more moment. One more opportunity to be better today, than I was yesterday.
It has been said time and time again. Never take your relationships for granted, for tomorrow, they may no longer be. If anything, she has taught me that lesson more vividly than I could ever imagine.
So take the time to make sure that those who are important to you know it. Tell those you love how much that love means to you. Tell those who do for you, that you appreciate them. Remind those you care for, that they add to your life.
Because Anika is watching…and she's doing the math.
It’s hard tell the depths of ones soul - not even your own. You can never say for sure how you will handle extraordinary circumstances, or moments in time that you are not accustom to. You can never really now the highest of your joy or the depth of your pain. Often, not even when they happen. But I think this week, we have had an exception.
I have been thinking all night about the Parents of Anika Harris. I think of her most loving Brother Aswad. I think of her friend Candice. People, who are the closest to her.
While each of us who know her suffers, I can’t imagine what it is like for them. The harsh reality is that none of us will ever see Nikki again. We will not be able to touch her, hear her voice, and be in her presence. All we have left are fond memories, her words and her lessons. For so many, that will never be enough.
That doesn’t mean however that she is “gone”. We will all think of her. She will brighten our days and warm our hearts with a thought. She WILL be with us.
There is an old Greek saying that says, “A Man’s life is measured by what he leaves behind in the world.” Well, if that's true...and I think that it is...there isn’t a measuring device in the world large enough to show what Anika has left.
She will continue to inspire the artistic among us. We will carry her torch and speak her name with great resolve. We will name children after her, set up social services in her name and contribute to find a cure for the awful disease that took her from us. We will tell stories of her and use them to inspire others…we will all make sure that her “life” continues.
I do not know much, but I know enough to realize that her impact on the world was even greater than I think she could ever imagined. It’s rare that one person can be shared in the hearts of so many. Perhaps that is the greatest testament to her of all. So many loved her, so many respected her, so many needed her.
I will say this and I think many will take issue with me. While the opportunity presents itself, I am unlikely to ever visit Anika’s final resting place. That’s because she will not be there.
She will not be in the garden of stones. She will not lie among the trees and lush grass. I will not follow a well laid out path to the grave that will hold her body. Because my beloved Anika, isn’t there.
I do not have to travel one inch to see the woman that I love so dearly. All I have to do to be with her is knock on my own heart’s door. That’s where Nikki is. And that’s where she shall be for all of us - in our hearts.
I will cry tonight as I have every night this week. I will cry for her - and will cry for her Parents - I will cry for Aswad - I will cry for Candice - I will cry for all her family and friends - and I will cry for me. But then I will get up, dust myself off, and ask, “What can I do for Nikki today?”
A question that I shall ask myself ever day of my life. Because that was the depth of Anika’s soul.