We are about to make our way into 2016. Most of us are reflecting on the good and bad of 2015. Some of us will go all out and share the year’s triumphs and lessons learnt, while others will turn their noses up in annoyance at the outpouring of reflective sentiments. Whatever your thoughts and actions, if you are reading this, give thanks for making it this far.2015 saw some very heartbreaking losses. Young people, mothers, children and sweet souls had their last breaths snatched from them, then scattered within a space, a sphere, that no one has ever reported back from. I watched with dread as those around me battled to find meaning and acceptance with each snatched life. I am grateful! I’ve come to understand and accept that life, although ours, is a smaller part of a bigger thing we have no control over. As I have gotten older, I have truly been able to embrace every day like it were my last. My brain is always in over-drive and I’ve found myself reflecting on death a lot. What happens to someone when they pass? No one has ever reported back from there. So how do we deal with it? I want to share with you a personal story.
In June of 2010, my former classmate, Nerissa Percival died alone in a home she had built and only occupied for just a little over a year. Nerissa was a poet and a writer like myself. She had a 9 to 5, but she was all about her writing. At the time of her death she was a published author of two books of poetry and had an active website/blog where she shared her work and daily thoughts. Nerissa would also send out these mass emails to friends and family where she would share inspirational quotes and stories. These emails would be sent to our inboxes either every day or every other day and would be filled with daily experiences, reflecting on the things she could do better. The emails were often times funny, as they would tell the tale of someone or something that tested Nerissa’s patience and resilience. I remember some friends and I use to have discussions about these stories either agreeing or disagreeing with her views, or laughing our tails off and what we would sometimes think were odd thoughts and behaviour. She shared everything with us. She shared so often and so passionately, never once asking if we felt comfortable being in her business. Nerissa held nothing back. She was blogging years before it became a thing.
I know you might be wondering why I am telling you this story. So here’s the thing, before Nerissa’s death I would be reluctant to define myself as a writer. After her funeral, later that night, I went home and created my first blog and subsequently began to share my thoughts with others. Before Nerissa’s death, I had no published work ANYWHERE. Not online. Not in books. Not anywhere. Nerissa died at the young age of 28, but left a wealth of shared words and work that as friends and family we have come to find comfort in. It dawned on me that if I were to die at that very moment, there would be no recorded evidence of my poems, thoughts or short stories. Nerissa’s death, as sad as it was, became the moment that jolted my actions. Here I was calling myself a writer, yet not having shared any of my work. I use to be very reluctant to share, still am somewhat, thinking that I was annoying and bombarding people unnecessarily. It is during these times of doubt that I remember Nerissa and why I began to write in the first place. What good is your talent if you can’t freely express and share it with others? Whether it was on her Facebook, via her website or email, Nerissa found a way to connect us with her words. Many of us lived overseas, but it didn’t matter. She reached out to us. That has been all I have ever wanted to do. Create. Share. Connect.
Today is December 31st 2015. I am 34 years of age. I am a poet, writer, playwright, feminist and entrepreneur. I have been published both locally and internationally. My work has been included in the same space as Sir Derrick Walcott. I have been featured on BBC. My written pieces have been used in presentations at regional and international cultural and theatre festivals. One of my poems was the topic of discussion in a college classroom on the subject of colorism. That same poem is also posted on the outside wall of Europe’s largest Arts center. This year I transitioned from employee to entrepreneur when I launched my own company BGR Media and Communications Inc. It has been 5 ½ years since Nerissa’s death, and so much has changed. So much has happened. I am a far more assertive and confident person. I go hard. I SHARE A LOT!
Thank you to every friend and family member that has stood by my side, held my hand and allowed me the use of their shoulders to cry on. Thank you to every acquaintance that has supported my initiatives and encouraged me along. Thank you to every negative situation that presented itself as an opportunity for me to grow. Thank you to the universe for sparing my life. Thank you to the young people that I come in contact with whose smiles and determination brighten my days and keep me motivated. But most of all, today I give thanks for J. Nerissa Percival, the butterfly whose departing flight from this world, breathed life into my world.
“Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them.”
Hey 2016 …………. I see your greatness and I accept your challenge. Happy New Year friends and family. Remember to seize each moment.