And After Death pt.2 [An open letter to Alexander ‘King’ Paul]

I hate hospitals. I mean, I’m grateful to all the doctors and nurses for all their hard work; still, I hate hospitals. I spent the better part of my childhood making hospital visits. I think I’ve seen nearly all of my family members on a hospital bed, not to mention the amount of times I’ve had to go to the hospital regarding my own health problems. So, when I had to visit you in hospital, I would always try to put on a smile. If not for you, at least for me. To comfort myself. To remind myself better days would come. How selfish of me.

I still recall the moment I was told you had collapsed, were hospitalized and in a coma. Two days after my birthday, it was 10pm. My thoughts were racing. I felt sick. Nauseous. I couldn’t bring myself to sit down, yet my legs wouldn’t let me remain standing. In shock, I made my way home. I wanted to visit you that same evening…I don’t know what stopped me. Maybe because I knew I wouldn’t be allowed in at such a late time. Maybe because I knew I would be of no help then. Maybe I was just making excuses…nothing should have stopped me from visiting you that evening.

We had seen enough deaths in 2016. Purple rain had left a taste of nostalgia on our tongues as we mourned the passing of the legend Prince. But you were a King, and that’s what made your death even harder to bear. You survived the troubling times in South London, yet this challenge was far greater than any of us could have imagined. But you were right. Only you could have handled such a pain. You were always right. “Mortality salience” become our motto once you woke from your coma. To live a full life despite the “woes of the wavey”. You carried your cross and us on your shoulders. Always uplifting us, always reminding us who we are, always showing us who we could be.

Not only were you the inspiration behind my dissertation, you were also my strength. Watching you fight one of the toughest battles gave me hope. Hope that we could go back to the times when you would call me at 1am to check up on me or come to my house and recite poetry. From Malcolm X to Kendrick Lamar, we explored all our passions. You wanted us to take more pictures, and I wish I had listened and followed through. My silly excuses prevented us from creating more memories.

You were the first person who I spoke to about my vices, my shortcomings, my failures and weaknesses. You listened. You didn’t make me feel any less of a man. You didn’t belittle me. You saw me as an equal, as a friend, as a brother…which is why as our heavy hearts weigh the souls of the deceased, I wish you weren’t doomed to live as a memory.

I wish I was a better friend. Each day I think back to your trip to Amsterdam. I had persuaded you to travel more. We were supposed to go there together. If I was there, maybe this wouldn’t have happened. If I had stayed with you the morning you had collapsed instead of leaving a few hours before, maybe you would still be here. If I had been more optimistic and had more faith, maybe God would have graced us with another miracle. You saved me, I only wish I could have saved you. And I’m sorry my brother. All I can do now is look back on our messages, reminisce about better days, dream about what could have been.

Although we shared love for Kendrick Lamar, Erykah Badu, Michael Jackson and various other artists, you were also one of my favourites but I had too much pride to tell you. Now I spend my days listening to your spoken word performance and playing ‘Shadow Man’ by Noname. “You wasn’t supposed to go so soon, I took it for granted. Maybe we’ll meet in the next life, maybe another planet. Open my soul but then it’ll end with an open casket.” …And an open casket is all I can think about since your funeral.

Alex, thank you for being you. There are not enough words to express what you have done for me both directly and indirectly; however, I hope to embody the love you exemplified, and spread that same love across the world before it is my time to take a bow. The flames ignited in your hearts by those who have passed must never be extinguished. Let it grow and immortalize their existence through your actions.


I am the embodiment of love,

I am everything and more.

I am you and

You are strength,

You are beauty,

You are free

Free to be

Free to love

Free to live a life filled with happiness and joy.

You are the children of a father to many;

Many men wish they could experience a life so beautifully lived.

Oh how gracious you are,

With your words flowing from a silk tongue,

Smooth yet salient.

If only you knew you were kings and queens before you were told.

The story of a young boy who became a man before his time

a boy who began to write,

Write away the perturbing pain inside a grieving mother’s heart;

Write away the anger corroding a brother’s soul;

write to right the wrongs of this world..or maybe just my own.

How I wish my cadence went further than simply the accumulation of YouTube views.

You all saw me in my purest form

pouring my heart for all to heal;

the crimson red ink leaving a mark on souls my eyes could not yet see.

My poetry was the answer, the voice of the people who for far too long lived a life

In ignorance,

blissful hopes of my survival.

Now we live on memories and shed tears over what was,

what is,

what could have been…

Songs of Solomon

Sing for me.

Slowly slowly,

Let the tide reverse,

So when the rain falls,

We’ll hear the pin drop,

as my soul

ascends

Into the heavens

and my memories

remain in you.

I am me.

I am him.

I am ‘King’ Alexander Paul.

 

 

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