LmnO Through Grief

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 3.43.25 PM I probably shouldn’t tell y’all this, but.. the “boyfriend” referenced in this article is me. Carrie Melvin and I never liked those BF/GF types of titles ’cause the words are so limiting and incapable of capturing the true nature of our link. The link, I’ve learned is much greater than the physical realm, as I still feel it although she’s been cremated and all the way gone. If you didn’t already know this about me, you probably wouldn’t by the way I carry myself. I still crack jokes. I still say inappropriate shit. I still remain true to my outspoken nature. I often feel like inhibiting myself before I cut loose and am reminded that I’m still that dude she fell in love with. Apparently there is a playbook for grief I have not been following by continuing to reach for my goals and aspirations in comedy and production as though she was still here. I thought about it. Hearing her voice echo “Don’t be sad. I don’t want to see you cry” from a previous unrelated conversation. I used to joke to her and say “A man is allowed to cry 2 times a year and still be masculine.” She told me that was some of the dumbest shit she’s ever heard. “Well the unused tears rollover,” I’d reply. She’d shake her head as if to say “You stupid.” I used ALL my rollover tears and am in overage right now- shit months ago.
Before Ezeoma “Eze” Obiaha was arrested for creeping up on us that night and shooting her in the face with a shotgun (The fuckin face, man), reading the comments section of the news articles was the worst. Motherfuckers knew in their hearts I was in on the murder on some crooked shit. Me choosing to work through the grief and continue to perform standup comedy and podcasting was a direct offense to others following the story, not knowing that I was cracking jokes at an open mic when we first locked eyes. That look she gave me was more than a “Lamb Choppin” ass lurky bomchickawahwah look. This woman was amazed and inspired in a manner I’ve never seen. Being with her, my goal was to do all I could to keep that look of inspiration and amazement on her face and in her heart. They couldn’t know that shit because it would put me and our relationship in the media light, when what was really important at the time was finding this weak mothafucka. It wasn’t about how she inspired me to not only dig deep and achieve many of my dreams and goals, but also to inspire, motivate and empower her to achieve hers.

It was that spirit that drove her to start her own company and reach for things she felt she was putting off. That is how she came into contact with “Eze,” a security guard with his lil ole shoe company “Hoodfellas.” At the time, when she was telling me about working for this dude, I was suspicious that he was trying to holler, but using their business relationship as a guise to do so. When the monthlong term of their agreement was up, she chose to end the business relationship (because he tried to spit game all the fucking time). She deposited the check he wrote her, and his salty ass called his bank to have it cancelled. This caused havoc on her finances. I wanted to see this fuck nigga about something (confront him). She wouldn’t allow it, or even give me any info about him, because she probably suspected I would go ahead and act anyways. SOMETHING had to be done tho. The only thing I could do was refer her to a labor attorney that advocated for me when a moving company violated mine, and several others’ rights during our tenure with their company.
The lawyer suggested she pursue him in the courts. I stayed out of it. No legal good would have come from me being involved. Actually, it would undermine her independence and capability to handle these things on her own. She told me she filed the paperwork. That was the last I heard of it. I didn’t know she won her case and was awarded punitive damages on top of what she was originally owed. I’d never met or seen dude until that night he strolled up on us on our way to eat dinner.
I heard footsteps behind us while we were talking. I glanced back and saw a brotha I’d never seen before holding a shotgun at us. Is this a robbery? “Whoa, man what do you need? We’ll give you anything.” Then she turned around and BAM! Didn’t sound like the gunshots you hear in movies. not even with THANKS digital sound. I learned quickly how fantastic movies really were with that shit. Really, it sounded like some July 4th dynamite. “A crazy nigga is shooting people on Sunset blvd, and we bout to die” was my next thought. I dove in the street to hopefully shield my vital organs with concrete corner where the sidewalk meets the streets. I didn’t hear a second shot. I looked back and saw he hadn’t pumped the shotgun, either. I knew I maybe had a limited time to shield myself from any further shots. I didn’t want to run off and leave her there either. Dude just slowly walked away. The only thing I could do was look at his face. ALL in his face. Then I looked down and saw her face down in a pool of blood and was hysterical. I tried to dial 911 from the lockscreen of my phone i was so out of my mind. When I did get on with the dispatch, they couldn’t understand shit I was saying.
Police arrived and the first responder, I couldn’t fuck with. He took an aggressive tone with me as if I knew more about what JUST happened. My experiences have never been positive with uniformed officers. We’ve been conditioned to fear and suspect each other of wrongdoings. Realizing in that moment that the last hug we shared was our last, I must’ve hugged and cried on the shoulders of so many cops, hoping it was her the whole time.
Always been a fan of Law & Order, even joked about the beginning of their episodes being mini dramas that are often never revisited once that body drops. Living in an episode, however, was a real life nightmare, I wonder how the writers of that show can stay in that zone to crank out the material for the show (when not “ripped from the headlines”). Through the grief and all that, I continued to work on my craft, and return to work, while cooperating with the investigation. I even scoured our apt looking for clues or anything I could submit to detectives to supplement their case. Weeks later I was shown several mug shots. I was skeptical of the process. What if I see the wrong person? So much doubt. but when I looked at the spread and saw that dudes face, I immediately went back to that night. How they found the dude, I couldn’t say, but it was him. Not only did my mind know, my body knew. The Goosebumps, the heart rate, the tears. My soul knew this was ole boy.
I still didn’t know who’s photo it was I was looking at, until I read the article about police making the arrest. I didn’t even know “Eze” was short for Ezeoma Obiaha, but seeing his name in print, along with the photo, sent me in all different directions. I’m all kinds of hurt. Not just for her, and her family who was struggling with the loss of such a warm and abundant spirit. Not just for my family that was watching me suffer to wrap my mind around not only this tragedy, but the meaning and purpose of life in general. It also hurt me to see this dude, another black man in his early 30s, throw his life away (he’s been denied bail and is facing the death penalty- which in California isn’t a first option even in murders). I’ve been to jail and had experienced the embarrassment of calling my folks to tell them from that pay phone. I felt hurt for his family, who would have to suffer the loss of their child. The pain of having to dig deep and allocate their resources to fund a murder defense I know has to be a more than I can imagine. But I tried.
It put possibilities on my mind I had never conceived. We often have these “end of the rainbow” aspirations of being with somebody, but realize when we are in these relationships, we’re only at the starting line. We know about the heartbreak waiting around the corner should either of us decide to part, but what about the other possibilities? What if your next partner get cancer or loses a limb? What if they kill you? What if you kill them? What if they go to jail for killing somebody? What if you achieve everything you ever dreamed together? What if y’all raise a family and have kids- and the kids get killed? What if your future kids kill somebody?
Even harder than wrapping my mind around these possibilities has been fighting the urge to quit life. Quit reaching for my goals. Quit feeling joy. Quit trying me meet and form new relationships with optimism. When confronted with these thoughts, I immediately hear Carrie checking me about it. I never hear her voice do this when it comes to entertaining and supporting pretentious, and mundane relationships and interactions with disingenuous individuals- or any vibe that does not fulfill my abundant spirit. I’ve definitely been made aware of how limited our time here in the physical really is. Far too limited to push through unconscious and unfulfilled, for sure.
While I haven’t really addressed the situation directly in my comedy, I have applied all that energy into building upon my craft and increasing my output. The challenge for me is to someday find not only the meaning, but the “hilarity” in all this and be able to deliver it in a palatable manner that fulfills the spirit of awe and amazement. That day may be way down the line, but in the meantime, the silence hasn’t fulfilled my spirit much, either.
I read some inspirational shit on Instagram (I know, haven’t we all) that said “Grief is the Price we Pay for Love.” The same part of me that is sad and hurt from her absence and the manner in which she was taken, makes me proud to know that she felt no pain, and died knowing she was loved. Exactly one year later, it still hurts to cope with her loss as the world turns and experiences trials and tribulations of its own. I have found solace in knowing that while Carrie Jean Melvin is dead and gone, the love is still very much alive.

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