It’s Better To Have Loved And Lost

Written by on April 26, 2015

It happened again this past Saturday. The unexpected announcement, whether phone call or social media post, meant to inform the masses that someone we love has passed on. And I know it’s selfish of me to think it, but I would very much like The Creator to cut me some slack. I’ve fielded more than my share of these sad declarations than is usual for someone my age. Far, far more.

I wasn’t supposed to be a youth ambassador to Israel. Israel wasn’t my first choice for countries to visit through the program, and I wasn’t among the original group of students selected to go. But fate has a way of stepping in and altering the options to give you what you need, not always what you want. The Ghana program was delayed for a year, and a Jewish girl had some sort of scheduling conflict, so I went from being an alternate to being a confirmed DC delegate for the America/Israel Friendship League exchange program. It would be my first time outside of the US without traveling with a member of my family, and my longest international excursion to date. An entire month: missing classes, living with unfamiliar families, experiencing a culture very different from my own. I was thrilled and terrified at the same time.

Lane Noland Alston was the first youth ambassador I met, outside of the DC delegation. As a member of the NYC group, he was a host to all of the other American students traveling to Israel when we gathered in NYC for two days prior to shipping out. I was too consumed with the wonder of it all to realize that he was flirting with me by teasing me relentlessly. Commenting on my slightly Southern accent. Questioning the functionality of my knock knees. Challenging my views on all things cultural and political. But rarely leaving my side. And, between the snide remarks, he listened intently to my long list of goals and dreams and encouraged me to share as much as I dared. Young love can be quite simple.

That was nearly 30 years ago. Time has marched on considerably since then. Our lives became more layered, perhaps more complicated in others’ eyes. But there was a shared history, forever intertwined because of fondness and interwoven experience. In this adult space, we traded a new set of stories and observances around our careers, friends and family, cultural likes and dislikes…all with good intentions about reconnecting in person in the not-too-distant future. Until last Saturday, when the inevitable became the impossible.

Yes, my request is a selfish one. My spirit is weary from eulogizing those who have deeply affected me and left this earthly plane too soon. In a world where Black men are murdered and discarded with brutal frequency, it seems cruel to have to say goodbye to the ones who chose paths of peace and personal fulfillment, but died young anyway. I will try to understand this, but I don’t have to like it. I’m not yet at a point where I’m comfortable acknowledging premature demise of any sort as a foregone conclusion. But I will remember that we loved, and were loved. And it is the love that will remain.

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