In memoriam

All my talk about getting old seems so trivial now. On July 30 a great man died. A dear friend of mine from my college days passed away at the age of 39 leaving behind a wife, a toddler age son and a 4 month old daughter.

He died from a heart attack.

He died at the age of 39.

He left behind a wife, a toddler age son and a 4 month old daughter.

I had to marinate on all of that for several hours.

When I received the phone call shortly after his passing I was stunned speechless and immediately rendered numb. I mean Jumaane? Dead? How is that even possible? Yes the intellectual side is fully aware of how it is possible. It’s a birth right. One day we will all die. But that less logical side, the emotional side, the part of me that detaches from reality and lives by the creed forever young, that side right there is confused. I did my part and reached out to my girls to share the news. It was hard to deliver. I mean we were tight back in the day. He was my people. He came to my wedding. We shared thoughts on life. We exchanged advice on everything from careers to relationships. Less than 3 short years ago we talked about his excitement and apprehension on becoming a father for the first time while his wife was pregnant. He worried about being an “old Pops”. He worried that maybe it was time to move out of Brooklyn. He was now looking around his house and wondering if it was enough. He wondered if he should stop working for himself and rejoin an established firm. He worried about being a good provider. Typical thoughts of a first time parent. I know I felt and faced all of my self-perceived inadequacies when I found out was pregnant. We all want to give our children the best. I did my best to calm his nerves. Prior to that he worried about finding the one and getting married. Again he didn’t want to be the “old uncle” up in the club at 50. Single and talking about “watch out there now”. I did my best to calm his nerves. He had a baby. He got married. He had another baby. This time the girl he always wanted. He loved his family.

This dude passed away? Nah! Something is not right. But it’s true. The outpouring of love and adoration has been amazing. I mean post after post, text after text, pictures, thoughts. Watching it all unfold has been mind-blowing. My friend touched the lives of so many. He was a husband, father, son, brother, friend, confidant, mentor, teacher, entrepreneur, activist, leader. Active in his community. He subscribed to theory of giving back. To whom much is given much is expected. And he stepped up. This dude passed away? My heart is heavy.

It took a long time for me to thaw and to finally cry that day. I don’t recall meeting him for the first time I just recall always knowing him. 22 years of friendship. The way he said my name with that Brooklyn twang that would always transport me back to home. His slang terms like “sus” and “antics” and his love and pride of his Caribbean roots. Jumaane Stewart was a solid guy. One of the coolest cats I’ve ever had the honor of meeting. I love him deep. I love him like family. I have to attend his funeral. It does not seem real.

I don’t question why because there is a larger power at play and He does not make mistakes. I do question how because I’m selfish and would like one more chance to talk to my friend, twirl a loc and give him a hug. And that is the only part that makes me sad. I grieve for his family no doubt. I can’t imagine what they are going through right now. I have nothing but good memories of our times together. Even when the situations were deep. I still hold those memories near and dear. So I smile when I think of him and I’m comforted by those thoughts. I pray that I’m living a life where those who know me will have more good memories of me than bad. His passing makes me want to be a better person.

Brooklyn Massive my friend! You are loved.