“You can’t rationalize everything! Just live life!”

I still go through moments of realization that Torey’s no longer here. It hits me the hardest at night. He’s no longer here to lay beside me in our bed … no longer here to become the human pretzel we so often did while we slept. It’s insane how inseparable we were even while sleeping. 

It’s hard for me not to replay his moment of passing in my head as I drive every day. I literally have to brace myself, take deep breaths and let the memory take its course. Crying isn’t always something that comes to me as naturally as it used to lately. The tears don’t really do anything for me other than make my eyes feel tired.

It’s bittersweet to watch Das play the game he loves the most – he’s the happiest when he’s on the field. I see him smile more while playing baseball more than anywhere else (he even dances in between innings still!). That connection between him and Torey will never die. I’m so happy Das can always rely on this. 

It hits me when I find myself smiling or laughing – not being able to share those moments with him hurts. It hits me when I have to keep my silly or crazy thoughts to myself because I doubt there’s anyone who would get me like he did. He used to tell me I was one of the funniest people he knew, but only because I didn’t hesitate to spit the truth with him about anything (or anyone!). 

I can’t speak for everyone who is mourning his loss, however I can say that I appreciate it when people share their thoughts about him with me. This allows me to cherish him in my heart and soul deeper and deeper. An example of this came from our good friend, Katrina, who lives in Houston. Torey and Trina met in Atlanta and were paired up as campus siblings while he attended Morehouse and she was at Spellman. They became close friends and looked out for one another – I had met him after their Freshman year and she soon learned about me as well. 

Katrina and I hit it off the moment we met – she’s an amazing soul who had nothing but love for Torey and eventually for me. Trina and I had a ton of stuff in common like music, movies and X-Files!!

Anita, Torey and Katrina
This is the three of us at the Phase V premiere in Houston back in 1998 (?)

I received a text from her early on Tuesday morning and it made me smile. I’d like to share it with you (and yes, I have her consent, thank you): 

So, I’m catching up on your “blog therapy” (I swear you are helping me so much by sharing your thoughts and life moments) 😉. I realized that I hadn’t heard his voice in so long until I listened to his voicemail greeting. It made me smile hearing his “professional voice.” I always preferred the energetic, louder version… where you could hear the smile through his words. LOL! 

I miss both of you and more and more I realize that I have NEVER met anyone like Torey. He’s the motivational voice I hear when I want to follow a path less traveled or pursue a dream. Of course, the voice he is using is his energetic, vibrant one, with hand gestures included! 

Why isn’t he here when I know he had so much more to do? Why him… now? I don’t understand life. His passing confuses me. And when I ask myself all of these questions, he speaks to me again… “Kre! You can’t rationalize everything! Just live life!”

So, Anita, let’s live life, even when it doesn’t make sense. Love you!! And keep the therapy going! 😘

Trina, you’re absolutely right. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been down with similar thoughts and feelings. A sick feeling of being cheated out of the life I always wanted for us as a couple and family, the bitterness, the depression, the longing, the anger, the confusion, the sadness, the loneliness, the despair … and so much more! Yes, during these times I can hear his softer and sweeter tone he only used with me. “Anita, you gotta stop this … you’ve got this! I know you do, Babbs. I know you do…” 

So, thank you Trina, for helping me as well. Your text was the best way to start my day. And yes, his arm gestures were always one of a kind – he’d get so animated! LOL!

For those of you reading this, you don’t have to share anything with me if you don’t want to. However, if you ever worked with him or knew him as a friend / loved one – then please reach out to someone you shared a mutual friendship with. Share those memories with one another. 

Keep his memory alive. That’s all I can ask for.

Thank you, T-Mitch … you know I’ll never stop loving you. Never. Ever…. Everrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Our First Date

I had mentioned I would write about our first date. Before I do, I just want to say that I will not be mentioning any names of anyone who was involved that night – mainly out of respect for them. Also, some of you may feel involved as I mention some things… I don’t mean any disrespect. I’m just speaking my truth.

Torey was on his way from Dallas while I was in Fort Worth hanging out with some friends. This was before the era of cell phones and Google Maps so it took a while for him to get to me. When he finally got closer to where I was he had called the number I was at, but I wasn’t in the room at the time (something like that anyway). Poor guy kept trying to reach me and I finally answered the call… he later told me he was gonna give up after that call and head all the way back to Dallas.

I was able to give him directions on where I was. Since I was around friends, they had helped me pick out what to wear that night. It was a pretty warm and humid summer night – August 26th of 1995 (I had to look this up in my planner for that year! It’s the same day we got married in 2000 and I had no clue until last night!). I wore a black t-shirt dress with a pair of black leather sandals – remember those dresses!? Torey walked in wearing his blue and white hickory striped overalls that were what you’d see a railroad worker wear from back in the day. He even had a matching hickory stripe engineer cap on along with a crisp white t-shirt on – and of course, his dark brown Doc Martens. Yeah, one look at him and all the butterflies in the world landed in my stomach and I had to catch my breath.

The first thought I said out loud before he could reach me was, “I gotta go change – I need to be in overalls, too…” Yup, the inner tom-boy in me was pleading to get comfortable all over again.

I was convinced not to by the ladies around me and before you know it he was standing there smiling at me. Oh goodness, those eyes!

I introduced him to the people I was with, made small talk and we went to Sundance Square in downtown Fort Worth. We decided to go to the movies at the AMC theater – and by the time we got there, only one movie was showing for our preferred start time.

Ready for this? The movie was, “Something to Talk About.” I mean … I couldn’t make this up even if I wanted to!

Bonnie Rait’s song was a hit that summer….

He got the tickets and we went in – not sure if it’s still like this now, but back then you had to take the escalators up to get to the theater rooms. I was standing in front of him and thought I felt a little nudge on my ass and looked back at him – he wasn’t even looking up at me at the time so I dismissed this as an accidental touch. YEARS later he told me it was intentional – LOL! Torey said he had to make sure my ass was real. SMH! Typical T-Mitch! LOL!

Anyway, Torey was a complete gentlemen the rest of the evening. He was laughing at me because an older lady kept staring at me while we had been waiting in line. He’d bring it up during the movie and say even the ladies are attracted to me. We laughed a lot that night! We just bonded.

After the movie was over we landed at a Bennigans. I was 18 – he was 19 so no alcohol obviously. I ordered a Dr. Pepper and are you ready to hear what T-Mitch ordered?? LOL! Those of you who know him now are going to crack up! A virgin strawberry daiquiri! The fruitiest of the fruitiest and it just made me smile at him even more! LOL! We always laughed at that whenever we’d reminisce about that night. We just bonded.

We talked a whole lot that evening – he was just easy to be myself around. No judgement. No preachy shit. Just a good friend. We listened to each other and it just felt really good to be with him. Other than the usual “what do you like” conversation, we had other ones, too. He told me what he wanted in life and how he’d like to pursue his desire to act. I told him how I’d love to establish myself as a graphic artist and go to school to learn how to animate and move to Los Angeles. We learned that we both wanted to end up in LA at some point. It was nice to flirt with the idea of sharing that journey with him one day, but hey this was just our first date. We just bonded.

The butterflies never really stopped that evening, but I was surprised at how relaxed and comfortable he made me feel. We talked about our families and how we felt like they didn’t really understand what we wanted for ourselves – all we wanted was to be able to define our own road and not succumb to Pre-Law or Psychiatry (or whatever medical road) to appease their own desires. He got me. I got him. We just bonded.

He held my hand as he walked me back to where I needed to be. He said he couldn’t wait to see me again and I acknowledged the sentiment. The both of us were cheesing from ear to ear quite honestly! Haha! We just bonded.

He gave me a hug and man, he smelled so good! A kiss on the cheek … and he left. Oh you’re probably wondering if we had our first kiss that night. The answer is no… and a Lady never tells. 😉 …. yeah. We just bonded.

We often looked back to that night even until recently. Torey would always tell me how good I looked and smelled… how he couldn’t take his eyes off of me. How he loved my smile, my dimples, my eyes … I would go on, too, about his own eyes, lips, and smile…. and his virgin strawberry daiquiri! We just bonded.

Eventually I would borrow those overalls he wore that day after we got together. LOL! The hat, too! We just bonded.

Torey and Anita 1995
Here we are – our first picture together. Yes, those were the overalls!

We just bonded…

469.258.9983

The phone number had to be put to rest today … it was one of his last extensions in the communication age… so many people he connected with.

I just remember getting to know him over the phone when we first met. So many calling cards I purchased … LOL! He was going to Morehouse in Atlanta at the time. A six-month-get-to-know-each-other. Fact, baby.

His own experience there alone at Morehouse is a whole different chapter. It’s a pretty good one, too – gonna have to get this out soon!

We literally fell in love over the phone. Like – LITERALLY. I just knew he was the one … he GOT me. He got every part of me.

When we finally got to a point where we could connect in the same space he’d play this for me:

Yup … the uni-brow, Al B Sure! I loved it … later in our years together we’d debate on who had the better cover song:

Of course, L-Boogy won that won! But that’s always up for debate.

Yes, I shed tears in decommissioning his phone number tonight. Here’s the recording:

T-Mitch Voicemail Recording

Guess what? It’s raining … again.

So thankful for my time with him. So thankful for his influence on Das and SO MANY OTHERS! SO THANKFUL FOR T-Mitch!

And He Wore it So Well …

As some of you know I’ve been attached to Torey’s favorite denim shirt since he passed – been using it as a pillow cover every night. I got sick last night and needed to wash my sheets (chills and the sweats). I had to wash it for the first time in months … it’s the last item of his that I hadn’t washed as of today.

Am I sad? Yes. Very. I’ll just spray more of his cologne on it once it’s done drying … I should still be able to fall asleep from time to time.

Baby steps.

Here he is in the shirt with his brother, Michael, and Das. (December 2016)

Miss you, my Love.

T-Mitch, My Forever Valentine – 2020

So … when Torey and I first got together I couldn’t spend our first Valentine’s Day with him – at least not the whole day. He was pretty upset about it. I had my reasons but they weren’t because of him – family related.

This reminds me of so many moments between us … the decision for me to leave home and embark on a journey with T-Mitch. I don’t regret it. I knew we were taboo from the start, but I honestly didn’t care – he didn’t either.

I’ve already been pretty weepy since last night. I went to Kroger for a few groceries and decided to hit the floral department up for a single rose. The florist said they were out of single roses and suggested buying a bouquet.

My intention was to lay a flower on the site … the site where he took his last breath. I explained this to her… her name is Julie. I could tell she was moved and decided to help me out.

She went to the cooler room and brought out a long, slim container and I watched her trim three roses (I had asked for three) – placed them in the container with baby’s breath and one of those accent leaf things and tied the container up. She handed the container to me.

I was already tearing up… I said, “I don’t see a price sticker on this.”

“There isn’t one,” Julie said. “I want you to have this… it breaks my heart to know what you’re going through. I almost lost my husband in December and we have four kids. It’s a miracle he’s alive and I can’t imagine what you’re going through.”

I let my tears fall and asked her for a hug. She was more than willing to comply and as I held her I thanked her.

I cried all the way home and then more. This morning the sun is shining and the roses smell amazing …

T-Mitch, Forever Valentine 1

Today won’t be a great one … but I’m on a mission to make the most of it. I have love and support even from strangers. I’ll take it.

Happy Valentine’s Day, T-Mitch.

Another throwback to our yester-years’ play list:

I Know the Show Must Go On

After waiting for what seemed like a year from the Medical Examiner’s office, we finally received Torey’s cause of death this past Monday:

Cardiovascular Disease in conjunction with Cardiac Hypertrophy

Heart disease.

I’m sad we didn’t know sooner … I would have done whatever I could to help him live longer.

It’s not fair.

Yes, there’s a little sense of closure, but at the same time …. it’s just not fair.

I took some time on Tuesday morning and forced myself to take the same route I did that awful November morning. I bought some flowers: white Hydrangeas and Tulips (he loved buying those types of flowers for me). This would be my third trip to the site since November. The first time was with Das. The last two times were on my own.

I cried the whole way there, remembering every moment:

After getting ready for the day, we got in our truck to begin our morning commute. It was unusually warm and windy to be so close to Thanksgiving.

We remembered the night before where we had some friends over to talk about the website they wanted for their new business venture.  Torey had cooked dinner for all of us. He made spaghetti and poured drinks, making sure everyone was well fed. It was a nice evening, but he was under a lot of stress, too. We both were to be honest, but the night went well and we made the most of it.

As I drove that morning, Torey nodded in and out of sleep as he usually did. Das was in the back listening to his music while I listened to the Shan and RJ Show on 105.3 The Fan. I wasn’t really listening though … I was in my own thoughts and was acknowledging how bad of a year 2019 had been so far. Torey’s stress from work was a lot to deal with along with the loss of my Willy Chinanna (Uncle). The words “janky ass year” kept going through my mind.

After I dropped Das off at school at 8 am, Torey reclined his seat to take his usual nap.

He noted, “Well I guess I’ll go to sleep since you’re not in the mood to talk.”

He covered his face with a fleece blanket – again, something he always did in the mornings. Normally it was a royal blue blanket, but this time he used the ugly cammo-printed one.

I wanted to say that I’m normally quiet in the mornings because for starters, he knows I’m not a morning person and secondly, he always naps around that time so why bother him!? I let him make it and didn’t get sassy. Kinda wish I had though … just to have some more words with him. 

I’m sad this was the last verbal exchange we had. I wish I had told him, “I love you” instead. 

I was at a stop light off of Preston and Alpha heading towards 635. Then it happened. I’m not going to go into detail because I relive that moment multiple times a day. I’m not going to describe the physical details of what he went through, but I will describe the other moments.

I screamed, shouted his name, smacked his face to wake him up while I pulled into the closest parking lot. Trembling and fumbling with my phone to call 911, I jumped out of the truck and ran to the other side. It was just in time for me to see and hear what seemed like the longest exhale anyone could ever release as he slumped over.

I unbuckled his seat belt. I remember the 911 Operator was coaching me to check for a pulse, I did what he told me to do while trying to keep it together. It was just too much. Panic set.

The EMS crew showed up 5 minutes later. They tried CPR, they tried the defibrillator several times, gave him a shot of adrenaline… all of this was happening too fast and not fast enough. I wanted to see him open his eyes and gasp for air again. That’s all I wanted. They asked so many questions, I just don’t remember what all they asked.

They rushed him to the ER while I rode in the passenger seat of the ambulance… they didn’t want me in the back with Torey. The whole time I could hear them yelling terms I didn’t recognize while trying to get a pulse. The blaring siren was overwhelming, but necessary. The hospital was 4 miles away and we got there in 5 minutes through the thick of morning traffic.

I quickly followed them and was told to wait outside of the ER room. They sent for a Chaplain which I thought was too soon, but okay. I sat there praying and hoping that all he would need is some kind of surgery to help him regain his breathing. That’s all.

I expected them to wheel him off to an operating room. I was more than willing to live in that hospital until he was better. In that moment I was thankful for having health insurance. I just knew he would be okay. I just did, but based on what I was hearing coming out of his room … it didn’t sound okay.

Nurse Kelly asked me if there was anyone close that I could call. Anyone who I could use for support. She told me the doctors were doing everything they could for Torey, but also made it clear that it wasn’t looking good.

My mind went blank. I didn’t want to alarm the family, yet, because I had the intention of informing them when he was in the operating room. I believed he would be breathing on his own again.

The first person I called was Joe. I couldn’t speak coherently so I asked the nurse to talk to him for me. I’m so thankful for the decision to contact Joe.

15 minutes went by and nothing changed. Nothing improved. I could hear them trying and trying.

Dr. B. Singh walked out of the room, got on one knee, held my hand and asked me if there were any known health problems.

“No, there weren’t – at least not to our knowledge.”

“Does his family have any heart related disease?”

“No, not that I’m aware of. He started smoking cigarettes recently…”

He thanked me and went back into the room. I felt helpless. Absolutely helpless and losing my mind. I wanted to be able to do something – anything.

Dr. Singh walked back to me and as he put an arm around my shoulder he gently said, “You don’t have to do this, but it’s important you know that we have done everything we could. His heart is simply not beating on its own. We have tried several times to encourage it to beat on its own, but nothing is working. Do you think he would want us to keep trying any further?”

Sadly I knew the answer to that question. We had talked about moments like this several times before. “Anita, if I’m ever in a situation where it doesn’t look like I’m going to make it – just let me go and be at peace with it. I don’t want to be hooked up to any machine that’s breathing for me. Just let me go.”

I had requested the same from him in return – it was a promise we both wanted to uphold, however I told myself that I would be long gone before him. I just felt like he had so much more to offer to the world than I do. It would only be fitting for him to live longer than me. It just made more sense to me. Even though we talked about it, I wasn’t ready. No one ever is.

There I was … in the position we had talked about. My heart told me what I needed to hear. He wouldn’t want any more of this. He just wouldn’t. I could hear his voice in my head telling me what to do…

My knees buckled. The doctor had to hold me up. All of the ER noises, the doctor telling me how hard this has to be on me … all just went quiet. I saw Torey laying there while they used the defibrillator. I couldn’t speak at first. Too many tears already.

I whispered it. They stopped. One of the other doctors called the time. 9:08 am on Wednesday, November 20, 2019.

Yes, 2019 was truly a janky ass year.

I got to the parking lot and parked the truck. A cold front was blowing in, it was gloomy and windy. I unwrapped the flowers as I shed more tears. I talked to him and told him how much I miss him, how much I love him.

I walked over to the spot and laid his flowers on the ground. It literally started to rain. This was the second time this happened within two days –Flowers for Torey Mitchell it had started to rain after I talked to the Medical Examiner’s office the day before as well. I stuck around for a few minutes and went about my day.

It’s always a treat to see his smile in my dreams now. I asked Das if he dreams about him, too … he said he usually doesn’t remember his dreams. I share mine  with him whenever I do.

The last one I had was of the three of us. We were at Twin Peaks ordering some food. Torey kept saying how he wanted to split the foot long Philly Cheese-steak sandwich with me and I was fine with that. He encouraged Das to get half of the portion for himself.

Das responded, “Dad, we’re not at Subway!” and all I could do is laugh.

I miss seeing the connection they had together – it was an amazing father-son relationship. Sure, it wasn’t always easy, but when is it ever? The bond they shared was so sweet and I’m so grateful Das knows Torey down to his core.

I know I fell in love with the right man.

I know I chose the right man to get married to.

I am honored to be the mother of his only child.

I am so lucky to have experienced his love and shared so much time together.

I am proud of the man our son is becoming. I know Torey is, too. I will do everything in my power to make sure Das is healthy, happy and taken care of.

I know the show must go on.

Now I’m gonna close this out with a song that’s running through my head because of it’s chorus… Torey absolutely loved this track (lyrics are listed below):

The Show Goes On

Lupe Fiasco

La-ser
Alright, already the show goes on
All night, till the morning we dream so long
Anybody ever wonder, when they would see the sun up
Just remember when you come up
The show goes on!

Alright, already the show goes on
All night, till the morning we dream so long
Anybody ever wonder, when they would see the sun up
Just remember when you come up
The show goes on!

Have you ever had the feeling
That you was being had
Don’t that shit that make you mad
They treat you like a slave
With chains all on your soul
And put whips up on your back
They be lying through they teeth
Hope you slip up off your path
I don’t switch up I just laugh
Put my kicks up on they desk
Unaffected by they threats
Than get busy on they ass
See that’s how that Chi-Town made me
That’s how my daddy raised me
That glittering may not be gold
Don’t let nobody play me
If you are my homeboy
You never have to pay me
Go on and put your hands up
When times are hard you stand up
L-U-P the man, ’cause a brand that the fans trust
So even if they ban us
They’ll never slow my plans up!

Alright, already the show goes on
All night, till the morning we dream so long
Anybody ever wonder
When they would see the sun up
Just remember when you come up
The show goes on!

Alright, already the show goes on
All night, till the morning we dream so long
Anybody ever wonder
When they would see the sun up
Just remember when you come up
The show goes on!

One in the air for the people that ain’t here
Two in the air for the father that’s there
Three in the air for the kids in the ghetto
Four for the kids who don’t wanna be there
None for the niggas trying to hold them back
Five in the air for the teacher not scared
to tell those kids that’s living in the ghetto
That the niggas holdin’ back that the world is theirs!
Yeah yeah, the world is yours
I was once that little boy
Terrified of the world
Now I’m on a world tour
I will give up everything
Even start a world war
For these ghettos girls and boys I’m rapping round’ the world for!
Africa to New York
Haiti then I detour
Oakland out to Auckland
Gaza Strip to Detroit
Say hip-hop only destroy
Tell em’ look at me, boy!
I hope your son don’t have a gun and never be a D-boy

Alright, already the show goes on
All night, till the morning we dream so long
Anybody ever wonder
When they would see the sun up
Just remember when you come up
The show goes on!

Alright, already the show goes on
All night, till the morning we dream so long
Anybody ever wonder
When they would see the sun up
Just remember when you come up
The show goes on!

So no matter what you been through
No matter what you into
No matter what you see
when you look outside your window
Brown grass or green grass
Picket fence or barbed wire
Never ever put them down
You just lift your arms higher
Raise ’em ’til your arms tired
Let em’ know you’re there
That you struggling and survivin’
That you gonna persevere yeah
Ain’t no body leavin’
No body goin’ home
Even if they turn the lights out the show is goin’ on!

Alright, already the show goes on
All night, till the morning we dream so long
Anybody ever wonder
When they would see the sun up
Just remember when you come up
The show goes on!

Alright, already the show goes on
All night, till the morning we dream so long
Anybody ever wonder
When they would see the sun up
Just remember when you come up
The show goes on!

A Letter From a Transplant Recipient – First One

I received the following letter today from Mrs. Elena:

Dear Family, 

Thanks to the generous donation of your courageous loved one I can look forward to regaining vision in my left eye. I am 73 years old and due to error made during a cataract surgery in Africa, my cornea was damaged. My cornea got swollen after correction of the cataract lens placement and my vision was very bad. My husband has lost his vision due to glaucoma and therefore I could not stand the idea of me losing my sight as well. 

My doctor discussed about me needing a cornea transplant. Needless to say, I had my swollen cornea removed in November. While the surgery went perfectly, I am amazed at the compassion and benevolence exhibited by your family or love in having the forethought to consider organ donation. To think of saving and helping others in a time of deepest sorrow shows real courage and true selflessness. I thank you for it and I truly consider your gift the greatest I will ever receive.

I promise you I will live my life to the fullest and seek out new opportunities and great adventures. With my eyes I will see all there is to see. We may never meet, but I consider you a part of my family. From the bottom of my heart, my family and I thank you.

Mrs. Elena

There’s so much I want to say right now … and for starters, T-Mitch always rescues me in my dreams when I’m feeling the lowest. Last night was one of those moments. I felt more broken than ever (still do). Thanks to a dear friend, I was able to pull myself together and turned in early. I woke up remembering a few dreams and in one, I was with Torey and we were just chillin’ … he was all smiles and he let me know that Das and I are going to be okay. It made me smile.

Then … to open this letter and read the words from this dear sweet Lady – I felt his smile all around me yet again. I love you, Torey!

I also have to mention the tragic loss of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, John Altobelli, his wife Keri, their daughter Alyssa, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton, and pilot Ara Zobayan. May they rest in peace – our condolences go out to all of their loved ones. Losing anyone so suddenly is never easy. Gone too soon…