Hi. It’s good to catch up with you again. I’m writing after a good sparring session at the gym and then a brief stop at my local on the way home. After training it’s always a soft drink and never booze. The pub is surprisingly busy for a Wednesday night but the crowd in there was nice and closer to how I remember it way back when.
I’ve only lived in Bristol for just over 10 years now but I guess that’s a long time to live anywhere. Other than Portsmouth it’s my base, it’s safe and it’s my home from home. I can see myself staying here for many years to come.
The past few weeks have been very tough emotionally due to a dear friend of mine passing suddenly and of course, navigating the bereavement of losing my dad last December. Ahmed left us earlier this month and my heart broke into a thousand pieces. My mum has just come out of an intense period of grief and I have been supporting her and so went to Spain to spend some quality time with her. The weather was fantastic.
Speaking to my friend on a Wednesday on the phone only to receive the tragic news the following day that he had suddenly died was quite the opposite. The grief I’ve learned arrives and leaves in waves of sorrow. I’d thought I’d overcome the worst of losing my father forgetting my father died less than a year ago. Ahmed said such beautiful things to me about dad on the day he left us, in fact, Ahmed was the first of my friends to call to see how I was doing.
We connected due to our heritage, he was black and from Sierra Leone, and his wife Martina is white, his children like me are mixed-race black. Dad and he would have hit it off straight away. Maybe they’ve met wherever they are. Ahmed reminded me that not only do I look like my father I am him in everything I do. In fact, it’s fair to say when it comes to helping others and my work in the community everything I do celebrates his life.
The wave of grief and depression that arrived just after I left Spain, to be honest, caught me off guard. I remember finishing a run out in the Sun, it was over 30 degrees and absolutely fantastic weather when I boldly made the statement “I’ll carry it for mum. I’ve got big enough shoulders.” to myself.
I’ve learned to my intense sadness my shoulders are only those of a man who rarely puts down his own and other people’s trauma. I’ve had days of late when I’ve not been able to do a thing other than sit and cry at random intervals. I’ve had days where I’ve wondered if I’ll ever feel like myself again and ranted on my Facebook expecting strangers to understand because someone anyone must be to blame for my suffering and my dad and friend not being here.
My mum is now vastly improved can see it and I can see the concern in her eyes. Training and volunteering are helping me as well as parties and dancing. July was fun August has been a challenge but just the same. Amongst the depression, there’s an acknowledgment that the summer has been a good one. Life’s like that and this weekend is Notting Hill carnival so there’s nothing like finishing things off on a good note.
I’d like to say training has helped me navigate the emotional minefield I’ve become but being honest the young guy no one understands has been in the driving seat a few times and he finds a problem very quickly. You’ll be pleased to know I do have a therapist as well as a lot of emotional intelligence to steer me right even when the waters have been the murkiest.
However, as the saying goes it’s always darkest before dawn and everything changes. Even me. Underneath all of this has been a brave light that’s getting stronger and stronger all the time. A new me is coming and that’s something to celebrate. Some lights never go out and Mr never gives up still will never ever give up. In fact, you’ll have to hit harder than that grief because you won’t stop me. Right now I may be the lowest I’ve ever been in my life but still. I rise and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.