My mouth tastes like salt.
No matter how much water I drink.
My tongue feels dry.
Swollen with the weight of unshedable tears.
If I open my mouth, put my hands on my knees, and cough, a year of unshed tears will pour out of my mouth into a heap on the floor.
As real as Lot’s wife for looking back.
Tory went home to be with the Lord one year ago this Christmas Eve due to Covid.
I look back over the year and realize I’ve been looking for Tory in Black Men friends like I have been looking for my father in love.
Not the role.
While a father is accountable for provision and protection of that which he calls his own, a brother looks out for and defends his sister.
Tory defended me.
He stood up for me.
I can see now, a year in retrospect, one of the drivers for healing with Black men is the loss of my brother.
He, like so many brothers, fought an invisible foe that corners Black boys into a life of poverty, crime, despair.
He fought the system with his brilliance, ingenuity, and humor.
Tory could flip money fifty ways all the while having you cry so hard your stomach ached.
He had the typical rite of passage for poor Black boys: jail time. Yes, typical considering how our boys are railroaded into the prison pipeline by third grade. While typical, Tory’s life wasn’t torpedoed by the system. He fell in love with technology and obtained his master’s degree. He also owned a hair salon as well as his own retail business.
Tory was a winner.
He beat the odds as a young Black Man with a record, but did not let his record block his success.
Tory became an entrepreneur.
He beat the system when the cops tried to frame him and then positioned him as a snitch when they couldn’t make the charges stick.
Tory showed his loyalty to his people.
He beat the violence of our mother by not hating Black Women. He loved his wife and daughter. Even after divorce, his first wife held him as her best friend. He married again the Thanksgiving before his transition.
Momma’s hate didn’t stop Tory from loving Black Women.
Since Tory’s passing, I have had magnificent Black men, brothers from other mothers, help me deal with the loss of Tory. I have been fed and nurtured by Black men like a thirsty woman in Hell.
These men, these brothers, have kept me alive.
The more I heal my father wound, the more love comes to me from Black Men in ALL forms, not just romantic.
Healing is holistic: it’s total.
So while I grieve Tory, I’m in high gratitude for the blessing of being loved by Black men in all the areas of my life. My sisters feed me, but it’s my brothers who carry me.
And I am grateful.
In some way, I have a little piece of Tory in all the brothers who look out for me–be it in business, friendship, or on social media.
They stand for me.
Watch out for me.
Open doors for me.
They love me.
I love you, Tory.
I’m proud of you.
I wish you could be here now.
I know you are in spirit.
If I turn my head a little to the right and close my eyes, I can feel your full-belly laugh in my soul. So I’m taking on laugher, jokes, joy as my way of feeling you in my life.
Hell, I may even get the courage to do standup. It’s a lifelong dream I’ve been too afraid to truly go for it. If or when I do, I will tap into your laughter and complete joy for being alive as my way of honoring your life.
Perhaps your gift to me Tory is the ability to laugh at life. It’s crazy contradictions and it’s absurd perfections.
The gift, your gift to me from grieving this Christmas, may well be a sense of humor inside of the hurt.
Maybe your blessing to me is to focus on laughing at life more instead of taking it so seriously.
Perhaps your laughter is my lineage, my birthright from you as your sister.
I don’t know if this is grief talking or simply crazy talk, but it makes feel better.
I don’t know.
But I’m willing.
Tory Devin Clark–
DECREE & PROCLAIM this following truth to be self-evident (at least to me) that FROM this day forward this truth:
– [ ] your laughter is the legacy you have bestowed on me.
– [ ] It now lives on in and through me.
– [ ] I will give it to the world.
On my word.
In the mighty presence of God!
(Did I go too far with the “mighty?)
In the PRESENCE of God!
Your older sister by 11 months (but who’s counting😂)
Ps: I love you, bro.