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LCFC Journal #18: “10 Years Later & The Holidays Matter Again”

23 Dec

KevMom2014aIn the ten years that have passed since my sister, Alexandra Anglade’s death I’ve watched my mother, Jocelyne Marie Joseph undergo a series of metamorphosis in which she went from being depressed and livid with the world to now being at piece through all of the things she’s been through.

Ten years later and I no longer live at home with her but I do know that where she was mentally and emotionally during the holidays in 2007 is not the same woman she is now. During that time frame I remember seeing my mother look worn and defeated. Without question it was definitely the lowest that she had ever been in her life. Both as a mother and a woman, I’m sure. At that time, I felt hopeless watching her suffer and endear the pain she was forced to live with. Being that I was only sixteen at the time, I knew she was going through it but still watched with curiosity.

Looking back, I think I was subconsciously taking notes as I watched my own parent deal with such adversity and pain that she had never experienced before. The circumstance was surreal, without question, but there is something interesting to gain and learn from watching a parent roll with the punches and adapt to an unwelcomed predicament.

Included below, is the final excerpt from last year’s Life Comes From Concrete 1.5 which details my personal account of watching my mom battle and wrestle with the fact of having to push forward in life without her first born…

 

This final piece, although brief, entails what exactly my mother has been dealing with since 2007. Throughout this entire section you’ve come across the burdens and heartaches that I’ve been challenged with in generally a short amount of time, but the person I applaud in terms of getting through these countless ordeals constantly is my mother. Without her, I really don’t know where my sister, Samantha and I would be.

My mother, Jocelyne Marie Joseph, has always been a kind and thoughtful person. In fact, everyone who I have come across in my short existence thus far, appreciates and loves her as an individual. Sometimes people wonder what she’s thinking internally because she rarely spoke her mind unless there was something of grand importance to say.

I remember not long after the passing of my sister Alexandra, my mom had become severely depressed. I honest to God didn’t think much about how the situation affected her but it wasn’t until I spoke to my grandmother about it, that I finally began to understand the issues my mother was dealing with. I remember sitting down with my grandmother one time in the kitchen and she said,

“Kevin, let me tell you something. A mother should never have to bury her own child. Just imagine, you take care of the child, you feed her, clothe her, take her to school, and discipline her. Do you know how hard it is to lose that? Especially the very first one?”

After hearing what my grandmother had to say on the matter, I couldn’t help but understand what she was getting at. After all, she had lost one of her very own daughter’s named Jeanette just when I was born.

Listening to my grandmother speak upon the dilemma, although I couldn’t personally relate, I nonetheless did my best to empathize and feel what my mother felt from a parental perspective. A parent is supposed to have a child bury them, not the other way around. And from that point forward, I watched my mother become a bitter individual right before my very own eyes. Often more times than not, I thought she would never be cheerful again.

I remember the year following my sister’s death, my mother was still a little depressed but I thought that she was finally overcoming the loss. I can recall my younger sister and I saying,

“Hey mom, Thanksgiving is coming, what are we doing this year?”

The answer we received was definitely one that we hadn’t been expecting, as our mom looked at us with a blank stare on her face and replied,

“From now on, I don’t care about Thanksgiving. I don’t care about Christmas. I don’t care about anything!”

Even my Dad who was lingering around when we had asked her the question remained silent. At the time, we all tried to stay positive, but just when we thought we had conquered one hurdle, was when we were once again, always facing another.

My father’s demise was the one that really set my mother over the top. In an instant, she went from being the second source of income (behind my father) to the sole bread winner.

At times, my mother wasn’t sure how she would deal with all of the bills as well as the mortgage that was due every month. And it was at that point in time, my mom had desperately wanted me to get a job but I constantly duck and dodged her. Although I was sure that she was struggling, I knew that getting a job would mess up my studies at school. I knew that I wouldn’t have thrived if I would have attempted to balance the two. It wasn’t until later that my mom came to realize I was so busy trying to figure out my own way, that I knew once I began to prosper and excel within whatever it was that I had a passion for, I would become a stable force that would aid in supporting the family.

 

Ten years later and I must say, it is certainly a pleasure to look back at what my family has been through, especially my mother and still be able to exhale. The fact that we’re still standing and living our truth is a blessing. If someone would have told me then that there would be better days ahead, I wouldn’t have believed them because there’s something about dealing with turmoil within the moment that makes you feel as if the experience is infinite.

But on December 23rd, 2017, there are two things I put into perspective:

1.) The first thing being that my mother once again celebrates the holidays and has found a way to regain her happiness and tranquility.

2.) The other thing is that this day marks her 60th birthday and I’m happy that it is one where she can rejoice and look forward to what’s ahead with the two kids she still has, because at the end of the day, that is all that really matters. Not the presents, not the bright lights nor decorative ornaments, but the six decades of life God has granted her while living present within the moment. That is all.

Man, I am eternally grateful that she never gave up and kept fighting. Because of her bravery and courageous strength, we’re still here.

I love you mama. Keep the family close.

 

 

Note: A majority of this post was previously published in the poetry collection, Life Comes From Concrete 1.5 via Flowered Concrete

KEVIN ANGLADE is the author of frankly twisted: the lost files, a collection of detective fiction. He was featured on NBC’s The Debrief with David Ushery in 2014 where he provided insight and purpose about small-press publishing. Anglade holds an A.S. in Theatre, (Queensborough Community College) a B.A. in English (Brooklyn College) and an M.A. in English (Queens College). He currently teaches 7th & 8th grade English Language Arts in Hartford, Connecticut and is the author of the poetry collection “Life Comes From Concrete”: a poetry memoir (2016).

 

Find him online at:

http://www.kevinanglade.com

Twitter/IG: @velevek

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LCFC Journal #17: “Vehicle To Truth Pt. II”

17 Nov

20171101_080151This year marks the 10th anniversary of my late sister, Alexandra Anglade’s passing. And although so much time has elapsed since then, I still find it hard to believe that she’s no longer living on this earth. What is more is that I find it hard to believe that ten years have flown by in a blink of an eye. At the time of her sudden demise, I was a sixteen-year-old kid living within the means of my existence. By that, I mean doing teenage stuff such as playing basketball, talking/singing to girls (by trying to emulate Chris Brown & Mario) figuring out high school and trying to regulate a bad acne problem I had at the time. Again, being a kid with no care in the world.

And so, when Alexandra passed, it struck a chord with me and hit my family hard. None of us had been expecting it as she was only twenty-six at the time (the same age I am now, how ironic) and filled with life. I think knowing that fact in itself has made this ten year anniversary a special one for me. I’ve been able to use the time in between to step back, think, reflect, and grow. If anyone would have told me that I’d survive that experience and live to tell the tale I would have never believed them but somehow someway I managed to persevere. Below, you will read an excerpt from my poetry collection/memoir, Life Comes From Concrete 1.5 that chronicles the day that changed my life forever and forced me to grow up and look at life differently. This is undoubtedly the window into my spirit.

“Pecan Honey”

 

   To start off my family dedications, it wouldn’t be right if I opened this section without focusing on the person who partially helped place me here. The next poem you will read is titled “Aquemini” and it is symbolic of both myself and my late sister, Alexandra’s zodiac signs.

When writing this poem, I remember writing it because I truly missed my sister’s presence. In fact, to this day, my younger sister and I still talk about her as if she still exists. Alexandra was pretty much like a friend to me as well. I can even go as far to say that she also played a motherly role within my life in a lot of ways.

She taught me a lot about respecting women and how guys should go about talking to girls. As I write this I can recall one time that she was taking me and my little sister Samantha to the movies when I opened the building’s door and mindlessly let it slam right in her face. Man, when I tell you she let me have it, boy she let me have it that day!

“Boy what the hell is wrong with you? When you see a girl coming towards a door, you hold it for her, end of story,” she said angrily.

Look, when I tell you I felt like crap, I felt like crap. At the time, I was either ten or eleven-years-old and really didn’t understand what she was saying but now as I look back upon that moment, I do. What she did helped transform me into becoming the young man that I am today.

Due to the fact that my parents, being Haitian were never really into the American customs of fashion and appearance, Alexandra would often go out of her way to buy Samantha and I the latest gear in clothing apparel and sneakers. Although I was only a kid at the time, I definitely appreciated all of the things she would do for us. Now that I am a young man, I feel like if there is anyone who owes her so much it’s definitely me. I mean, if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be writing this book of poetry as we speak. I’m sure of it.

I am saying this because when Alexandra was about eight or nine, she told my mom that she wanted a sibling. And so, one day she made my mom accompany her to the grocery store to purchase candy.

When she left the store, she saw my mom talking to the man who later came to be my father. You see, my parents had been together in the seventies before my sister was born but they broke up once my mom decided to leave Haiti in order to travel the world. Therefore, I find it funny that they reconvened outside of a little grocery store in Brooklyn. To me, it only proves that I have a purpose and that I’m supposed to be here.

Now all of this changed in the year 2007. It was the year I turned sixteen. At the time I was a junior in high school, had very good grades, and most of all, I was just being a young, care-free, fun loving teenager. That summer, my parents, little sister and I went on a relaxing vacation to Montreal, Canada but by the time we got back, things quickly began to unravel.

By the end of August, Alexandra would stop by the house often and complain to my mom of some red blots that covered her arms. She complained of itching and how much it was bothering her. After my mom had done her best to help and noticed that it had gotten worse, she then urged her to go to the hospital.

Furthermore, one thing led to another and before we knew it, my sister was in and out of the hospital like clockwork until she finally went into a coma. I remember my Dad going to see her in ICU as often as he could because my mother just couldn’t bare it. On one specific visit, the doctors informed him that Alexandra was suffering from a bad case of meningitis. I remember him taking a picture of her on his cell phone and the person I witnessed lying upon the hospital bed was totally unrecognizable and a completely different person. My sister was a heavy set young woman but had ballooned twice her size in a matter of a month. As much as I wanted to visit her, my father refused to let us go because he said that no one under the age of eighteen was allowed in the room.

A few weeks after, I got a taste of life’s harsh realities for the first time on Saturday, November 17th, 2007. I remember leaving church that afternoon as Samantha and I had just finished choir rehearsal and were headed home. The church, which is relatively two blocks away from my house wasn’t far off as we walked. Upon arrival, my Dad told Samantha and I that he wanted to talk to us. As he sat us in the living room, I wasn’t prepared for what he was about to say next.

“Kids, I’m sorry to tell you this, but Alexandra passed away at ten o’clock this morning,” he said calmly.

To this day, I remember how everything just felt extremely surreal as he said it. Immediately my world began to plunge into an abyss. Samantha, wasted no time as she immediately began to bawl like a baby on the couch. After a few seconds of digesting the shock myself, I remember that I had joined her.

“Mwe konen ti moun, mwe konen,” said my Dad in Haitian Kreyol. His voice cracked as he held us both.

After a moment of consoling us, he went into the kitchen to check on my mother. It was then I remember telling Samantha while in the midst of my tears:

“You know, you hear about or see these things on the news all the time but you never think that it could happen to you,” I sobbed in between tears.

My sister thoroughly agreed and nodded her head as she continued to cry.

A few days later after everything had come to pass, my sister was buried at All Saints Church in Great Neck, Long Island. I remember watching her casket being lowered into the pit thinking, “Wow, she’s really gone, she’s never coming back and I’m never going to see her again.”

I remember as people began to leave the gravesite, I walked back to the family car thinking to myself, “It’s up to you now Kev. No more being a little kid. You’re going to become something great in this life. You’re going to make sure that your family is well taken care of, and that they can all live peacefully and happily. Nothing is going to stop you. You’ve got to do it and will do it. No more games. It’s all up to you because you have to become somebody. You have no choice.”

I truly believe that since that day, I matured far beyond than what I ever could have envisioned for myself. I deeply wanted to become something in life. And not because my parents were pushing and influencing me, but more so because I needed to… I wanted to…

I realized then that life wasn’t a game and I was going to take matters into my own hands and succeed at all costs. I mean, besides being my half-sister, Alexandra (or Sandra as we called her around the house) was my friend, supporter and a powerful motherly figure. If she never lived, neither would I have. Without question, I know I owe her everything that comes my way.

    A poet/social worker friend of mine named Felicia Henry has a wonderful blog that I advise you all to check out and for one blog post in particular, she wrote about how her car which was originally her father’s became her vehicle of truth. The post resonated with me deeply because like her father (who passed a few years back) Alexandra’s car, a 2005 Hyundai Elantra has become my vehicle of truth as I have started driving it this year.

Within the car she has an Aaliyah postcard (late R&B songstress) that hangs from the visor mirror and every time I see it, it reminds me of Alex. Every time I drive I feel as if her spirit is always with me and I couldn’t imagine a day in which I would not be able to see it dangling from its cord. For me, it represents everything that Alex was. Cool, funny, fierce, charismatic, caring and beautiful. And I write all of this to say that ten years later I wouldn’t have it any other way. Through both her vehicle and my heart, her spirit and truth lives on forever.

Note: A majority of this post was previously published as an excerpt from Life Comes From Concrete 1.5 via Flowered Concrete

 

KEVIN ANGLADE is the author of frankly twisted: the lost files, a collection of detective fiction. He was featured on NBC’s The Debrief with David Ushery in 2014 where he provided insight and purpose about small-press publishing. Anglade holds an A.S. in Theatre, (Queensborough Community College) a B.A. in English (Brooklyn College) and an M.A. in English (Queens College). He currently teaches 7th & 8th grade English Language Arts in Hartford, Connecticut and is the author of the poetry collection “Life Comes From Concrete”: a poetry memoir (2016).

 

Find him online at:

http://www.kevinanglade.com

Twitter/IG: @velevek

LCFC Journal #13: Grateful for Queensborough, Thankful for Gratitude…

20 Jun

 

unnamed (1)I remember what it was like coming back to Queensborough Community College for the first time in what felt like ages. In actuality, it had only been two years and change since I had set foot on campus but going back to work there felt much different. To be quite honest, I never expected to make a return and the fact that I did made me feel as if I had gone through a revolving door. My first day back was on Thursday, November 6th, 2014 and I was scheduled to begin work at 9AM for the Speech Communication & Theatre Arts Department as its college assistant.

I wanted to make a first impression (or thought my job required that I looked professional) as I remember wearing a gray dress shirt and tie with black pants and shoes. Little did I know that over time dressing up was useless as my manager, Veronica Manoo had me doing a lot of heavy lifting and cleaning. I was very taken aback by the amount of work that was cut out for me in regards to office maintenance but Veronica was very helpful in getting me acclimated to her system and how she ran the department.

Two months into my gig I was quite content with the job as it was pretty straight forward. It also didn’t hurt at the time that the pay was fair for a recent struggling grad as I was working damn near full-time punching in thirty hour weekly and making almost a thousand dollars every other week. Although the job wasn’t in my field of English I was comfortable enough at the time to stay a while longer while I continued to search for other positions.

However, a speed bump would occur a few months down the road as my weekly hours were reduced to half the amount I had been working from the moment I first started. For me, this was a shock because I naturally thought my pay would hover around the figure I was already making, but later on, I learned that the only reason I was afforded the luxury of working additional hours was because the college assistant before me quit in August of that year which allowed me to use up the hours that he hadn’t used as a result of his departure.

It was in that very moment that I realized the matter where I told myself I needed to get the hell out of there. As a recent college grad, the sudden reduction shocked me beyond capacity and made me take a step back to reevaluate why I had even gone to college.

What made things worse for me personally was that half of my earnings was given to my mother. From the time that I had started working at QCC my mother requested that I contributed four hundred dollars a month to the household as a way for her to buy groceries and aid in monthly expenses. Although I didn’t mind the matter when my check was looking great, later on I found it to be a nuisance as I barely got by.

During the fall and early portion of 2015 I grew to be extremely frustrated with the predicament I was in. At that point I had started a master’s program and had moved up from being a pitiful college grad to being a broke graduate student. And as I had done before I was struggling to stretch every dollar I made.

Months went by as the summer of 2016 arrived. By then I found myself keeping all my money made from the measly earnings of my paychecks to myself. At this point, a full two months went by without me giving my mother any money. And to be honest, I didn’t really care to even address the situation because it literally killed me inside. I was ashamed, embarrassed, and disgusted with what I had become and my pride would not allow me to bring the situation to light. I was able to get away with it for a while until one day my mother sent me a text and asked about the sudden halt in the money she had been receiving.

Later on, I remember us briefly getting into it as she told me that I needed to move on and find a real job with real pay that provided full-time work hours. Although I agreed with her and understood where she was coming from I refused to let her break me down. As a young adult I was doing everything within my power to be one that I was supposed to be doing at the time and her complaints about my job did not phase me in slightest. At the time I literally had one more year of school left on my plate and would not allow her or anyone meddle with what I had planned.

Following this matter, I continued working at my job while going to school. However, I knew that my final year of graduate school had to have something attached to it at the end. It was really important to me that I either found a job in which I could utilize my English undergraduate degree or one in which I could pursue education either through a fellowship or on a higher education level.

Sometime that fall, I found myself landing a position as a corps member for a teaching fellowship program that would have me relocate to New Haven, Connecticut. Once it became official I was certainly relieved to say the least. It felt great to know that I would finally begin to embark upon my career and would get started on defining and creating a future for myself.

However, what I found to be tough in regards to the matter is the fact that everything wasn’t all bad for me working at the school. What I mean by that is I grew and built relationships with some of my colleagues that will certainly last a lifetime. A lot of the professors I worked with helped me grow and mature into a professional future educator by simply having conversations with me. I was fortunate enough to watch them operate as I learned the meaning of responsibility, hard work, and etiquette when it boils down to dealing with students of all magnitudes.

On my last day of work at QCC I found the ending of what was certainly a learning experience to be bittersweet. Of course, I wanted to go and move on more than anything but a part of me felt as if I was leaving something behind. I was leaving a group of people that not only helped raise me on my first real job but cared about me in such a way that impacted my framework and identity as a young man. I’m not too certain why it happened but I can still remember crying my eyes out while talking to Daniel McKleinfeld, the College Lab Technician of my department and thanking him for just existing and being an extraordinary man that taught me so much about life, history, the world, and many things at large. It is because of beautiful souls like him that my spirit enlarged and was very in tune with everything I got to experience while working there.

And so, if someone walked up to me and asked whether I enjoyed working as a college assistant for little pay and work experience right out of college I would not find it within me to tell a lie and would have to say, “no”. But if they asked has the experience itself changed you in any form or fashion then I would have to say “yes”. It changed me because I literally had to learn that sometimes life doesn’t always go as expected. Life doesn’t always hand you what you want right away or sometimes at all. Life and the experiences you get are a test. A test that determines your resilient nature as you make progress into a future that is bright but challenging. A future in which you will find yourself being grateful for everything both big and small that comes your way. It’s this reason alone that makes me thank the institution as I express my deepest gratitude. Not only am I certain that I will prosper but I have also proven to myself that I will win wherever I go. And for that I say: thank you Queensborough Community College, thank you. Because of you, I will go on to do great things. Because of you, I am grateful.

 

KEVIN ANGLADE is the author of frankly Twisted: the lost files, a collection of detective fiction. He was featured on NBC’s The Debrief with David Ushery in 2014 where he provided insight and purpose about small-press publishing. Anglade holds an A.S. in Theatre, (Queensborough Community College) a B.A. in English (Brooklyn College) and an M.A. in English (Queens College). He is the author of the poetry collection Life Comes From Concrete: a poetry memoir (2016).

Find him online at:

www.kevinanglade.com

Twitter/IG: @velevek

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