Back in ’97, I was a college student unaware of the twists and turns my life was about to take. One day, I was walking home and ran into a “friend”of mine, Michael, who yelled out to me, “Yo Dan, my cousins are back in town. I will holla when they come thru so we all can chill.” Ahnwar and Madinah were childhood friends whose grandmother lived in the building across from mine and Michael was their cousin who lived in my neighborhood. One summer evening, I was at home and my mother called me to the phone. It was Michael, he wanted me to come down the block because his cousins were here. I walk down the block and approach the car that Michael is standing by to say what’s up to Mike and I immediately gravitated to the woman in the car. It was Madinah and she had grown up. I hadn’t seen her since we were 12ish. We engaged in conversation for what seemed like 30 minutes but was actually 2 hours. The connection was there and over that summer, we had grown to be boyfriend and girlfriend. That September Liah was born.

Liah is Michael’s biological daughter. Maliah’s parents were me and Madinah’s age; 18 but not in the best space (I’m being nice) to take care of Liah. So more and more, as that autumn carried on Madinah was taking on the responsibility of taking care of Liah and as fall turned into winter, Madinah’s and my relationship was getting very serious. That spring, Madinah found out she was pregnant and she gave birth to Dan in October. In an instant, I had gone from a student to a family man with 2 kids Yes, two. Madinah’s motherly instincts kicked in and had decided that Liah wasn’t going back to that situation in the Bronx with 2 parents that couldn’t take care of themselves(I’m being nice) let alone a baby.

A few weeks after Madinah gave birth, we were hanging out and drinking a few Coronas. The next morning, Madinah woke up nauseous. She vomited a few times and I wrote it off as her being hung over, but after the vomiting continued through the morning I knew something was wrong. So we rushed to the emergency room clueless that this was the beginning of a 10 year nightmare. At the emergency room we were placed in the waiting room. For most of Madinah’s visits to the hospital she was overlooked by the staff because she was young and looked healthy. After sitting in the emergency room for a few hours and watching Madinah puke her brains out, I could wait no more, so I had to get a little aggressive and raise my voice in order to be heard. They began testing immediately and determined that Madinah’s spleen had ruptured. She was rushed into surgery and her spleen was removed. At 19, listening to doctors tell you that this was a rare but common occurrence in women who give birth, you take their word and try to move on with your life.

Over the next 9 years Madinah was in and out of the hospital with heart attacks, strokes, and different major surgeries all stemming from a rare blood disorder she had. They called it protein S deficiency. This disease ruined her body. Her blood would clot too much and cause her blood flow to be disrupted in her arms and legs and brain. Madinah was the strongest person I ever met. She had so many surgeries on her arms, legs, and brain to remove those clots.

A year before Madinah passed away she had both of her legs amputated. She was determined to walk again. She was in the hospital recovering for months but was able to walk out of the hospital on her 2 prosthetic legs. She was the toughest, most determined person I have ever known.

Broreavement is a way I feel like I can give back to the world from my life experiences and possibly help someone who is going through something similar. Since my loss, I have always been drawn to and felt empathy for my friends who have lost family members. I am not perfect and I do realize everyone grieves differently, but as a black man who has been through some shit I feel like we bury our emotions and push our way through it without fully healing the wound that our departed and situation has left us with. I figured Hennessy, blunts, and women would numb the pain away enough for me to get back to the way life was without that pain. I was wrong.

The trauma that my kids and I went through over the years of caring for Madinah have left us scarred. Over the past 14 years of life after Madinah’s passing, there have been many instances that occur that I feel trace back to the enormous loss that we had in our lives. To this day, anxiety builds up when winter comes around and Madinah’s death anniversary approaches. My kids struggle and year after year we always go through situations where we argue and fight with each other. I am using this platform as a form of therapy. Hopefully my story can help someone.

Leave a Reply