WARNING: As always, much self care is to be taken to avoid overwhelming emotions my blog may trigger.
It’s been a while since my last blog and some of you may have been aware of some of the things I was doing such as:
- A sexual abuse campaign on social medial building awareness of sexual abuse in our community and the impact on its victims and families.
- A women’s circle for survivors of sexual abuse
- Officially launched new a project to support new start-ups in the Black and Minority Ethnic community (BMESU).
I was also having ongoing issues at my workplace. And then in May 2018 I got some devastating news about two of my (half) sisters (on my dad’s side) in Jamaica that rocked my world! I received news that one of my sisters had passed away at just 19 years old, leaving her 1 year old baby girl #RIPChin.
At the same time, I also found out that another one of my sisters was seriously sick and didn’t have much time left #RIPLittle.
None of us knows the time or place when our time in the physical form as we know it will come to an end. But for me, the news was even more shocking because it involved two of my sisters I didn’t even knew that they were ill. The most regrettable thing is that this is partly due to family drama/dynamics as well as what seems to be the culture in Jamaica to not volunteer information about particular illnesses. I found it challenging to know how I was feeling. I wanted to grieve for Chin but didn’t want to be too distracted from Little, as they were still time to be there for her. The thought of loosing one sister was enough but to imagine loosing another sister all at the same time was just too much for anyone to bear. Was it to be a joint funeral or did we have to prepare for two funerals in a short space of time? So many questions and so few answers.
The news got me straight into the “giving” and “solution focused” mode instead of receiving. Being one of the eldest child of 16 children for my dad, I had to provide a lot of support to my siblings including emotional and financial. At first, I hoped that I was “strong enough” to get through this; and I also thought that if I wasn’t ok, I’d know and refocus my attention on my own self-care. But this stage of giving from a half-empty cup without taking the time to refill/re-energise was not sustainable. I needed time to attend to my own wounds. To allow myself time to grieve and work through the many challenges Chin’s death highlighted. But instead, there was so many problems that needed fixing.
Many of us from the African and Caribbean community will know, that when you’re in “foreign” such as England or America – if there’s an emergency with our family back home, the pressure is then on you to solve these problems. In this case, it was four of us siblings that attended to the majority of these challenges (myself, Kadian, Jamar and Dwyane). One of our biggest challenge was raising money for Chin’s funeral, contributing to Little’s medical bills, planning to travel to Jamaica for the funeral and supporting the family with other expenses. Of-course we still had our own bills to pay and many of us are not yet at the place where we’d have substantial savings or other means readily available when the worse happens.
I’m grateful for my mother who took the action to set up a fundraiser page on GoFundMe for Chin’s funeral. This generated a lot of support from around the world. Words can’t express our gratitude to all those who have contributed and supported our tragic cause. In the end we raised around £600.00 (including cash donations) which went a long way to contributing to the funeral associated expenses. My family and I will always be eternally grateful for everyone’s donations. Special thank you to my American and British family for their contributions.
Trip to Jamaica
The decision to travel to Jamaica for the funeral was another big challenge. Many of my family here in the UK kept advising me not to go, mainly because of the additional expenses associated. A last minute ticket to Jamaica for a week in June 2018 cost me over £1200.00 (including accommodation and breakfast). However nothing could have stopped me from going, even if I had to take out a bank loan! As much as I understood my family’s concerns, I knew I would’ve regretted it if I hadn’t gone. It had been way too long since I’d last seen my siblings – approx. 15 years!! And I felt I needed to be there for Little.
Furthermore, I need closure to my grieving as well as “pandoras box” which had opened – bringing to the surface much deeply buried emotions from past experience involving my dad and his children. I knew I had to go to Jamaica to heal and make peace with this aspect of past and current situations. I wanted to be able to release, let go and move on from past events, allowing myself to start a new chapter of love, harmony and unity with my siblings. You can read more about my past events in my upcoming book.
The British Airways experience
I found – going to Jamaica last minute – required a lot of planning and organising including sorting out childcare for my son. Big up my sister Jodi for taking a week’s annual leave to look after my son and taking him to school whilst I was away. I didn’t realised just how overwhelmed I was until I was finally in my friend’s car going to the airport (big up Clifton for pick up and drop off at the airport). As soon as I sat in the car and took a deep breathe, I broke down in tears. I really started to feel sorry for myself. My life had turn upside down in a short space of time. From loosing a sister and about to loose another to re-gaining 13 others siblings plus my dad in my life, to dealing with the emotions in between. I was so overwhelmed in my emotions that I couldn’t stop crying. Poor Clifton had to deal with this early in the morning and still carry on with the rest of his day. As soon as I got through airport security, I bought the biggest bottle of rum and started to have a drink (or few).
My energy had sunk to the lowest frequency. My thoughts were negative and my emotions were filled with pain, fear, hurt, anger. As the law goes, I started to manifest more of the same emotions I was feeling.
About 2 hours into my flight to Miami (to change for Jamaica), a crew member of British Airways walked passed me and accidently brush pass my hand, spilling the cup of hot tea I was holding in that hand!! The hot drink spilled all over my belly and thighs. I froze for a few seconds then screamed in pain from the intense burning sensation I could feel on my body. I jumped up and called for help – thinking that the lady that caused the accident must not have realised what she’d done. Assistance came and took me to the bathroom to clean up and clam down. They even gave me a branded British Airways pj to put on so I could come out of my own wet clothes which I was grateful for. But all this time, I didn’t realised they were treating me like a “drunken person who spilled hot tea on themselves”. All I could think about was the grief of “loosing” a sister and never seeing her again alive. I’ll never get to see her smile ever again or talk to her. She’ll never get the opportunity many of us take for granted in raising our children and her baby would not grow up knowing her mother. It’s like the shock of the pain from the hot tea heightened my grieving pain. I couldn’t stop crying, even after I’d gone back to my seat.
I also remember thinking “why me? why I’m I going through this? It’s not fair on me, I can’t take anymore!”. To make matter’s worse, none of the staff had apologised for what had happened even after I told them why I was travelling. Instead they took up my bottle of rum (whilst I was cleaning up in the toilet) and told me that “they’d inform the pilot of the situation”. It was suddenly dawning on me that they were treating me like a drunken person but I wasn’t in the right state of mind to deal with it. I was way too traumatised and overwhelmed in my emotions. The thoughts just kept going round and round in my head as I continued to cry silently to sleep.
After I woke up, I was so angry over what had happened and how it had added to my pain. I tried to get back my rum but they kept it until after the plane landed. This made me felt even more victimised. I tried talking to one of the crew member and she told me the passengers to my right had said they saw me spilled the tea on myself and some on them. I was gobsmacked! I even wondered if I was imagining things. I asked the same passengers and the others around me if/what they saw but apparently, no one actually saw what happened. I wasn’t surprised to hear this because I knew it happened quickly and in a plane packed with people, it’s not far-fetched to believe that someone brushed passed my hand whilst I was holding the hot drink. I was confident in my own recollection of what had happened. I raised a complaint on the flight (which got denied). For the rest of the journey I was so quiet and angry that I just watched a film and spoke to one, not even to ask for a cup of water. I had nothing else to give!
The rest of my journey was also challenging until I met a lovely Jamaican lady, called Angela. It turned out she was also returning to Jamaica for a funeral and she lived about 10 minutes away from me in London #smallworld. She was just what I need – a breathe of fresh air. She cheered me up as much as possible and by the time we landed in Jamaica, I was feeling much better than being on the flight.
It was great to see some of my siblings who were at the airport waiting for me. I hadn’t seen some of them for about 15 years!!!!!! I still can’t believe how time flew and they didn’t look a day older especially Mampy lol It was particularly fantastic to see a more familiar face, my brother Jamar who had gone down a week before me and came to pick me up from the airport. That night Jamar and Angela stayed at the hotel with me.
I’d made plans with my siblings of how we’d be spending the week together. I landed on a Wednesday and as the funeral was on the Saturday, the aim was to spend as much time together re-building our bond so we can feel supported by each other on the “big day”. We party and chill together from the night I landed and over the days to come.
The following day, my sister Kadian came from America with her baby girl and husband – they stayed in the same hotel as me and which was just amazing!!
There were some noticeable differences amongst us siblings and their friends considering how long we hadn’t seen each other as well as the difference in culture in Jamaica, America and the UK. But overall, I had a great time with my siblings, made peace with Little and got to spend some time my dad (I’ll write about this in future blogs).
The day of the funeral came and it was just the most emotional day. To be honest I was high all that day! I was impressed at the size and quality of Chin’s funeral. It was absolutely money well spent. Seeing her laying in the coffin made it all seemed so final.
Needless to say we were all in tears most of the day.
After the funeral, we gathered at the beach side outside my hotel and laughed and talked. I noticed how unsettled I felt – feeling scared and paranoid as if someone was going to hurt me but I just tried to manage myself the best I could.
The next few days flew by quickly. I ran out of money by the last day due to unexpected expenses so I spent the day relaxed at the hotel. In fact, I wished if I’d extended the holiday to get some more “me time” but I had to return to release my sister Jodi from babysitting duties.
On the evening of the last day, I met one of my brother’s cousin who took me to her relationship event – quite similar to some of the events I organise. It was refreshing to see so many masculine men turned out and quite vocal in conversations. I hope to watch over the recordings I made and share some points in a future blog.
Returning back to the UK, I had the feeling that we’ll be organising Little’s funeral soon but no one wanted to say it. My journey to London was a bit bumpy literally but not as bad as my departure. Except when I got to Heathrow airport, I came to understand one of my luggage didn’t make it on the flight and it’s the one that had my bottles of rum in it!!!!!!! The thought of not seeing my bottles of rum again was seriously stressful but three days later it got delivered to my home address with everything in tact. Hurray!!!!
Finally, in Jamaica they say when it rains it pour. This is so true! Next week I’ll share how my rainy days turned into one massive storm including loosing a second sister. Yes, it got worse before it got better. I’ll share how these extremely challenging circumstances became opportunities to shred more of my baggage as I’m now in a very good place, feeling so much lighter and manifesting my true desires. Until next week my brothers and sisters, go with love, light and peace.