Over the past few years, I’ve written a few letters to Alex, on the third anniversary of his passing I’d like to share the one I wrote today.
Grief remains one of those things that I still struggle to come to terms with. There are no rules, no guidelines, no timelines. On somedays it stings harder than ever, on other days it’s sobering. And yet, three years after you’ve left us, my relationship with grief and death is all the more muddied.
I knew this day would come, and for the longest time I’d been dreading it. The time when you’d have been gone for longer than I had the chance to know you. I fear that memories will fade, that I’d let the impact you had on me would dwindle and I’d lose touch with your family and loved ones. On this third anniversary of your death I can still very much remember the exact moment I found out, a memory forever etched in my brain.
I believe there are very few people that can have so great an impact on so many people. Maybe it’s a gift and a curse in itself to mean so much to so many and shoulder their burdens alongside them. This is the kind of person you were, you are. I often work myself up over the words I didn’t say, the times I didn’t check in, the moments I took for granted. It all seems unfair, that we still get the chance to try and pursue dreams, find love and explore the world. To this day I still haven’t changed my lock screen, whether it’s a healthy form of attachment I don’t know but it just still doesn’t feel right yet. I know that when God calls you home, there’s not really anything we can do about it, but I’d be lying if I said that this all makes much sense to me. I’m reminded of words I shared at your nine night celebration, that it’s not necessarily about how long a life we live, but how well. Your embodiment of life, love and joy inspire me to do the same and live life well, irrespective of how long I may have left on Earth.
I guess we all long for impact, to feel as though our presence mattered, to be remembered for something. While only some us get the chance to say that we actually achieved it. What you mean to your family, friends and wider community is immeasurable and I look at how your life and poetry outlive you and continue to inspire. It’s fitting that it was the first book we looked at in our book club.
In this current climate as we challenge racism, inequality and growing social unrest, I remember how active and passionate you were in the fight against injustice and the empowerment of black people. I can’t help but imagine what a powerful voice of reason you’d be today.
Look after us bro, watch out for us, as you party amongst the angels remind us of your love, your joy, your character, your intelligence, your drive, your creativity, your confidence. Let us hold you in our hearts my brother, remain in us forever. I’ll never forget the first time we met, and our few years spent together. I now know that our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them.
Thank you Alex, thanks for being you, thanks for leaving us as better people than we were before we met. I hold onto the hope that we will meet again one day. Until then, we love you, we miss you, continue to shine down on us, I hope we’re doing you proud!
“After you die you will still be alive
Remembered with pride.
Your battle was necessary for your name to survive
Now everyone shall live in your legacy because you tried
And succeeded in this battle”
– an excerpt from ‘Love Is A Battlefield’ by Alexander ‘King’ Paul, January 2011