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A Love Letter to Brother Desmond

A Love Letter to my Dear Brother Desmond

The first time I met you

You and your grandmother shelling cocoa on the verandah, your home tucked away at the end of the road, the far corner of the village; cocoa trees generously spread in and through rooted foot paths and ravines. We met just before your grandmother, Ms. Mima died.  

I remember her Praise. I sat on the verandah while women wailed their tangible grief, children played  and laughed, rum poured, splifs lit, a dog with the roasted pig in it’s mouth, his stolen prize.  I imagined grief of your grandma and gratitude for village community filled you up that evening; you who could not move around easily, born with two legs confining you to the house, you living on a road deep in cocoa lands, not easily negotiable or accessible.

I loved coming by you all to vibes, brother Denis and sister Jacqlyn, Nickel, Nick, Nevine and Nicholas. We played Skibo, joked, laughed, shared stories, watched Oprah, shelled cocoa, teased and urged you towards the crutches in the corner of the house.

We shared the same age, you in June me in December.

I can feel your deep rolling laugh now in my body. Even two weeks ago while you were hooked up to oxygen surrounded by other men sleeping, moaning, crying out for a nurse; you laughing reminding me how long it’s been since we saw each other last; your face lit when you realized I brought a container of Theo’s oil down even when the nurse say, “No more than two bites!” Two heaping spoonful’s of breadfruit and dumpling seeped in coconut oil, pumpkin and callaloo.   

And there we are again in my mind, on the verandah piling up the Skibo cards, the smell of cocoa fermenting in the sun. Denis and I joking about you getting out more, you letting up on the fried chicken so you could manage your crutches more easily, so you could come out and  into the world. You laughing, laughing.      

I remember the time when Theo and I convinced you to come to the beach with us. They finally smoothed out the piece of concrete road spilling down your side of the road; Theo could now back the jeep down and you had no more excuses. A few of us lifted you into the jeep.  Telescope Beach. I remember you sitting on the shore tolerating our adventure, pretty sure you came on the journey more for us then you; as you were ecstatic when it all ended and you reached home, safe and comfortable once again. You laughed and laughed upon your return! I remember thinking his joy is from having returned not from going. From that day I stopped trying to convince you to come out.

And then tragedy thundered through. Brother Denis drowned, Hurricane Ivan licked up Jaclyn and the kid’s house; sister Jacqlyn fell ill and then passed within the year. The kids moved to New York and there you were last man standing amongst the cocoa.  Then the sore on your foot worsened and worsened and still that deep rolling easy laughter. And then after so many years the doctors finally proclaim diabetes and both legs below the knees removed.

I misjudged your strength, your tenacity when they moved you into the Home in Crochu. I thought the loss of your two legs would surely sink you in the realm of darkness but there you are smiling, asking me if Theo can find someone to fix the community TV; there you are waiting for the Skibo cards to spill out of my bag where we played with two elders; you rolling your eyes cause they were too slow for you. 

And then covid hit and we didn’t see each other for two years; and then I forgot about you dear brother. I kept planning to come and visit and then the time galloped by and I’d be off to Canada again and then back again; covid got me so damn comfortable not leaving the house, relishing in my introverted self.  

It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I heard you were in the hospital after catching a stroke. I went to you bearing oil down and jelly water. I was expecting worse than how you were, your rolling laugh again even if dulled behind the oxygen mask. Two walloping bites of oil down, a few shared memories before the mask was placed and I left. And then you were gone.

I love you dear brother. I love you. I know you are now with Ms. Mima, Denis, Jacqlyn  and the rest of the Village ancestors sharing the news from down below! You are free dear brother, no body weighing you down, no roads barring your way, no fears jostling your movements. Free. Free. Free.

Thank you Brother Desmond Thank You!

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