Banter on Tulips and a Tribe Called Quest, Jay-Z and John Coltrane, Outkast and Othello.


For Bryce

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty. That is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know. ~Keats

Got some bad news yesterday. The younger son of my mother's best friend passed away. After a basketball game two weeks ago, he had complained of chest pain. "Go to the doctor, Bryce," his mother advised. Characteristically stubborn, the sandy-haired second son delayed it. At 4 a.m., he rolled out of bed shaking, before collapsing on the floor. His girlfriend called 9-1-1. 45 minutes went by while the EMTs tried to work life into his limp body. Before 5, he had finished his time on earth at 25.

If memory begs truth, to remember Bryce is to remember a guy who I was not so fond of...okay regarded with a disdain that matched my feelings on brussels sprouts as a child. Two years younger than me, he was the kind of boy who would bait me into arguments that couldn't be won without a fight that involved him poking me or in one case I will never forget, giving me a slap across me face. As a young Mahogany, swift and sweet as I thought myself to be, I was indeed a devout fan of Old Testament law. Namely "an eye for an eye". *smile.* So seemingly justified by the Pharisees, I retaliated swiftly, pushing him and scratching a hole through his new navy sweater. At age 9, I was more prone for a spelling bee than a fist fight, but something about that boy inspired the absolute worst in me. Our mothers made us apologize to each other. I wanted him banished from my house, but agreed to say sorry as my mother's famous leather belt loomed in the distance screaming a warning. We held an unsteady truce.

It would be some years later that I saw him in a different light. Last summer, I was running the indoor track at the gym and saw a lighter-toned athletic-built guy yelling at a white middle-aged court mate whose paunch begged brewskis. "Move the f----n ball!!!" the bass voice admonished. Lol. The angry phrase stopped me mid-stride in laughter. I looked down to the court which was a level below the raised track. I know that guy. But the voice, chiseled 6-foot tall tatooed physique of the grown man seemed incongruous with my memory. Is that Bryce?

He was too far away for me to say hey, so I kept on running. It just so happened that we left the gym at the same time. "I thought that was you," I said, as I looked up and smiled. He gave me a big hug and asked how I was doing. I told him. Asked him. He talked about working long hours at a hospital to fund his college pursuits. Talked about playing basketball in a local league. Looking at him. Listening to him talk, it was like night and day from the kid I who once annoyed me so much. He was calm, peaceful almost. An alright guy after all. I headed to my car and told him I was proud of him and told him to take care of himself. Later that summer, I saw him at a family cookout at his mom's house. Same spirit. Same bear hug. He had grown up from the backyard fight sessions. We both had.

The last time I had seen Bryce before that summer day at the gym, was six years before at my own younger sister's funeral. The day was a whirl as people I barely knew made incessant small talk. "So sorry for your loss" one blabbered. "She's in heaven now." another said. The words seemed empty. They meant well, but had no idea what I was feeling. Like someone had just gutted me and took my heart as proof of purchase. Just before I got into the car to go to the burial, I saw a young guy walk over to me from my right eye's peripheral vision, arms outstretched. "Bryce!" I said, returning the hug and empathetic smile. It meant more to me than saying any of the things that bit at my ears like mosquitos.

Someday I had hoped to return the favor.


At April 17, 2006 3:40 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

well put! - Piii

At April 19, 2006 11:09 AM , Blogger POPS said...

very moving

At April 20, 2006 6:49 PM , Blogger Gunner Kaufman said...

so sorry to hear that.

At April 21, 2006 10:19 AM , Blogger Maverick said...

I am sorry to hear that also...I won't be the mosquito in this situation...

At April 29, 2006 4:23 PM , Blogger Mahogany Elle said...

Thanks for your wishes all. I really appreciate them :)

At April 30, 2006 1:21 PM , Blogger spchrist said...

sorry to hear all that!


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