In Memory of My Buddy, Ali Dellevas

Take me,” I often find myself bargaining loudly in my head every time someone dear to my heart has untimely, unfairly been taken from this world by that ugly six-letter-word: cancer. And I say “every time” because it, unfortunately, has been quite a few times and one, in my opinion, was one too many.

The bargaining swiftly turns into unequivocal anger, then some degree of shock, then back to the bargaining, “Take me this time, instead, you bastard,” anthropomorphizing the disease as if it bares ears that can hear my useless plea, a heart that can fathom compassion and the control to alter the circumstances, to take me instead of the good ones it seems to never spare.

Yesterday morning was no different.

Ali died this morning, dude,” our close, mutual friend, Amanda uttered over the telephone line from thousands of miles away.

No, no, no, no, no…” was all I could repeat as my knees hit the ground, the tears began and I curled into a ball. I may have said this before but it’s interesting that “no” is probably the first word many of us learn as wee ones and the first word that escapes our mouths when being informed of the devastating loss of a loved one.

As babies, we say “no” because we hear it so often and it is often associated with conditions in which we find contrary to what our simple minds desire in that moment.

But I don’t wanna go to bed.

I want to put the small object in my mouth.

I want to play with the crystal glassware left on the coffee table.

And it’s really no different as an adult. Our vocabulary has hopefully expanded into a book’s worth of words but “no” is still the go-to because once again, we are presented with a reality out of our control and for lack of better terms, unpleasant. We only wish it involved our sleep patterns, small, material objects or expensive drink-ware.

I’m not ashamed to admit that there were certainly a few emphasized “fucks” thrown in between my “no’s.” My buddy, as we so often lovingly referred to one another, had a potty mouth of her own. If I didn’t angrily shout my favorite f-word a few times, I would probably have disappointed her. On August 21st of 2012, she accurately tagged me on Facebook in this funny e-card.

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Infectious was Ali’s laugh. It was the kind of laugh that engaged, that was easily recognizable in a room full of people and when you heard it you couldn’t help but smile or even laugh with her, even if you had no idea what was so funny. I heard that laugh today, in my head, as I despondently walked to lunch and with every reason not to be smiling, I smiled. I like to think that it’s her way of letting us all know that she’s okay, that she’s in a better place as the adage goes; A place free of suffering and pain where she can laugh, carefree. Furthermore, I like to think she’s sharing that wonderful charisma of hers with my beautiful mama and they’re keeping each other good company wherever it is that we may go after this life.

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Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 6.48.23 PMShe had an enchanting smile to go along with that compelling laugh, an inspiring, positive outlook no matter the obstacle thrown her way and enough compassion to ignite a fire in even the most merciless heart. Her love for family, friends, Channing Tatum and the usage of the word “heffa” were strikingly evident. Her very presence alone was electrifying. If Ali was in the room you best believe it was happily known.

Those who know me well know that the two years I spent in New York City were unfortunately the two most dismal years I have experienced in my thirty years of existence. Aside from the onslaught of homesickness and relationship woes, I lost both of my parents within four months of one another to lung cancer. My mama was my best friend. I wasn’t much for socializing to say the least and everything frequently appeared glum, miserable from my perspective. On the outside, I may have been smiling but on the inside, I was the lead star in my own personal hell and New York City happened to be the hopeless setting.

My mama always reiterated that if we don’t have hope, we don’t have anything. I would say that my train rides home to Brooklyn with Ali and my hour lunches with her at “Fuck and Spoon” as Ali and I so aptly called it for its outrageous prices were lifesaving. Here was this beautiful, young vibrant spitfire of a woman, unfortunately diagnosed with cancer, still cracking jokes, still laughing that delightful laugh, still fighting, still loving life. If that couldn’t whip shit into perspective for me, I’m not sure what could have. She was the very definition of hope.

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There are several quotes about surrounding oneself with positive people, ridding one’s life of toxicity and so forth and whenever I would come across these, I would do an inventory of the people I keep around me. Ali was always at the top of the list of those who enriched my life with their contagiously optimistic attitude, of those whom I wished to keep near and dear for their uplifting contribution to my existence.

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As I continue to write with a heavy, broken heart, I just keep thinking, “I’m not doing her justice. This isn’t good enough.” I’ve been at quite the loss for words the past couple of days but I sincerely have given this my best. If the untimely loss of Ali has taught us one thing, let it be that time is an illusion. There is no such thing. Right now – that is the only thing that is real and right now, we must be strong and fearless and do the things that excite our soul, that breathe life into our veins and make the right now a better place for others just as Ali made each and every one of our right nows a better place.

Her family and closest friends will continue to be in my thoughts and in my prayers. No parent should ever have to bury his or her child and for all of our sakes, I hope that one day when we go to the paradise where Ali has gone, it will all make perfect sense. In the meantime, fuck cancer.

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I’ll never forget you, my buddy. Rest in peace. Seahorses foreva.

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#FuckCancer

This would be my first and well-deserved reblog. Please help spread the word, if nothing more than a share of Ali’s story. Every little thing helps.

A Righteous Revival

The after work, evening commute in New York City is even more drab and dreary than the morning one and going it alone can quickly turn into a frustrating, elbow-rubbing, unpleasant smelling, anxiety-inducing experience; one where vying for a place to rest ones ass can go from an awkward “after you,” “no, after you” to the shorter equivalent of a 100 yard dash competition. And then of course, one might weigh the pros and cons of the empty seat – Is it a middle seat or a side seat? Is it by the exit or in the middle of the train, furthest from mass transportation freedom as possible?

On one hand, you can rest your tush whilst having the sleepiest stranger to your right dozing off on your shoulder or the asshole to your left practicing his latest spreading techniques (in case you do not know…

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#FuckCancer

The after work, evening commute in New York City is even more drab and dreary than the morning one and going it alone can quickly turn into a frustrating, elbow-rubbing, unpleasant smelling, anxiety-inducing experience; one where vying for a place to rest ones ass can go from an awkward “after you,” “no, after you” to the shorter equivalent of a 100 yard dash competition. And then of course, one might weigh the pros and cons of the empty seat – Is it a middle seat or a side seat? Is it by the exit or in the middle of the train, furthest from mass transportation freedom as possible?

On one hand, you can rest your tush whilst having the sleepiest stranger to your right dozing off on your shoulder or the asshole to your left practicing his latest spreading techniques (in case you do not know what this is, feel free to click on the link above) and on the other hand, you can stand but you better move the hell out of the way approximately thirty seconds before each stop because the elderly woman sitting in front of you just has to inch her way to the exit doors in order to be first off the train.

What has the ability to brighten this five-day commute and ease the disadvantages of riding the New York City subway between the hours of five and eight p.m. is having a riding buddy. I was fortunate enough to have that during my time on the east coast. This woman was not only a riding buddy but a Brooklyn bred, Italiana firecracker with a mouth of a sailor and a heart of gold. Her name is Ali. We worked together at a fashion jewelry company on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan’s midtown district and we both happened to take the same subway line back to Brooklyn.

I’m uncertain of whether or not Ali knows just how much her presence and friendship meant to me and still does today but the purpose of this blog is to not only express that appreciation but to ask you, my readers, for your help this holiday season. Ali has been battling a rare form of stage three ovarian cancer for three years and is presently in the hospital fighting pneumonia with other severe health complications brought on by this horrific disease.  Doctors are currently at a loss as far as further treatment.

I’ll never forget the night this despairing news came to fruition, when my fun-loving, exceptionally strong, spirited and young friend was diagnosed just months after my best friend, my mama, passed away from stage four metastatic lung cancer.  Ali and I immediately formed a common bond if we hadn’t already had several and despite her own, personal struggles, she continued to be an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on but more importantly someone who “got it,” and on those seemingly long ass commutes home, her presence was life saving. Her sense of humor never ceased to exist and her contagious laugh, everlasting.

I couldn’t possibly place my gratitude into the proper words; I can only hope that I provided Ali with some amount of solace in return. I will do my best to help her and her family in any way that I possibly can and right now, that means reaching their goal of $20,000 via the link http://www.gofundme.com/letusrallyforali

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Please take a brief moment to click on the link and read her heartbreaking story. Every little bit truly helps and this is one story that deserves a happy ending. Ali recently wrote via her Facebook that she is “overwhelmed by all the love and support from everyone,” that it truly astonished her. To that I respond, and I know so many will agree, I am not surprised one bit by the outpouring of support. If she remotely touched others’ lives in the way that she managed to touch mine, it is not surprising in the least bit.

Seahorses forever!  Love you, buddy. #FUCKCANCER

Twinsies 4 the day!
My Buddy, Ali, and I

 

 

Sundown, Moon Rise

I once laid in bed with death, right next to it – our skins touching, my body’s warmth against its eerie absent-like coolness and my weary head upon its betraying shoulder. I managed to whisper a few nonsensical words to its deaf ears and shed a few tears in its unwelcome and untimely presence. I once vowed my life – the one I’m living right now – for better or for worse, in sickness and in health to another living, breathing human being in the attendance of other living, breathing human beings. I once allowed death to fool me into longing for its bittersweet company but I’m still living that life. I no longer vow it to anyone – not another human being, not even death – only my self.

I just want something to last longer than I, I thought to myself as I stepped into the hot, steaming shower after a dragging, long day at work. This thought wasn’t random nor was it shocking – sad, definitely but not surprising that I would think something as such. On the surface, it seems like a legit, understandable yearning but once you dig a little deeper, into its core, you realize that there is so much emotion and experience balled up into those nine little words.

If I were to dig a little deeper, I would explain that I want something of substance to last longer than myself – a friendship, a relationship, and hell – my good moods! I want to become of death before someone else I love dearly dies again. I want this man, this relationship, and this time to be it. I want to just share the rest of my days with one person, without a shadow of a doubt, through the good times and the bad. I don’t need the paper, the ring, none of it – just the quality.

If I were to continue digging, I would tell you that these admissions terrify the living hell out of me and yes there is a living hell inside of me. I would go on to tell you that I don’t believe in forever. I don’t believe that there is one person for anyone. I don’t believe in marriage. I do believe in death and flaws and disappointment. I believe in temporary relationships that unexpectedly venture beyond the platonic level.

This isn’t to say that I don’t want to believe in the above because I most certainly do and there was a point in my life that I actually did that now seems like forever ago– ha! No pun intended, but after the almost three decades of life that I have under my belt, I have learned how to “protect” myself by expecting the absolute worse – death in all of its various forms. By believing it possible to prepare for the worst, the devastating blow won’t be as devastating, right? I know I’m wrong but I’ve got about thirty years of experiences to unlearn. Please, do, wish me luck, though honestly, I don’t believe in luck. Pray?

No Lie in My Fire

This made me think of you,” the six-word caption attached to the picture message read. At 10:55 a.m. this past Saturday morning, I received an unexpected text message that, to an outsider’s perspective, would appear to be just that – a text message. But this was no ordinary message – this message was a much more meaningful gesture presenting itself as every day communication.

Two of my favorite quotes were legible across the confines of my smart phone screen, one of which happens to be the cover photo of my Facebook account.

Charles Bukowski Quote
Charles Bukowski Quote

And the other, another Bukowski quote, that always serves as a reminder of my inherent strength.

Charles Bukowski Quote
Charles Bukowski Quote

Not only was this message a much-needed reminder at that particular moment but a realization that this man gets me.  For the first time in my life, someone sees me, and whether or not he understands, he accepts me for who I am.  Most importantly, it doesn’t make him want to run. It doesn’t make him want to turn his back on me in seek of “something greener,” “something better.”  He gets me and he wants to walk through the fire with me.