Would I Have…?

Like many of you I have been binge-watching a few series and watching many movies. Besides writing and dabbling back into my creative side of the brain, entertainment on the tube has been part of my grief-stricken-quarantine-life. Some of it has been an escape while some of it has been a trigger point for breakdowns. The number one source for breakdowns has been music. I’ve been trying to listen to things I normally would listen to, but knowing my man ain’t around anymore just makes it harder. On that note, I can’t watch certain things either – there are a few shows/movies we didn’t get to finish together and I have left it at that. I don’t have the heart to go back and finish. What’s the point?

Any who … I binged “Black Mirror” the past few weeks (yeah, some of you are like, “You’re a little late to the game” but whatever!). Literally each episode is pretty mind-blowing! I finally caught up and had a conversation with Das about that show. He’s convinced the writers are on some twisted shit and pull ideas out of crazy states of mind! He may be right, but there’s some deep thought there, too.

One episode hit me kinda hard and it’s an older one from the second season, first episode titled, “Be Right Back.” Per Wikipedia here’s the summary:

Ash lives with his girlfriend Martha, spending a lot of time on social media, until one day he dies in a traffic accident. A few days later, Martha finds out that she is pregnant and decides to use a new technology that is able to simulate Ash’s voice and personality on the phone, based on his social media profile and other audiovisual material. This service helps her overcome her despair, until one day she accidentally drops her phone and panics. The artificial Ash tells her of the service’s experimental stage, in which she agrees to have the replica transferred into a synthetic body, almost identical to Ash. However, Martha realizes that the android is not able to replicate the small details in her loved one’s behavior and starts distancing herself from it. Finally, Martha takes the artificial Ash to a cliff and orders it to jump off. As it begins to follow the order, Martha expresses her frustration that Ash would not have simply obeyed. As a response, the android starts begging for its life. Unable to get rid of it, she ends up keeping the android in the attic, where a few years later her little daughter visits it every weekend.

As I was watching the show I could relate to Martha in so many ways and it baffled me. My first reaction was being appalled at the idea of “recreating a live doll” of your own late husband. It’s a notion I’d reject even now … but watching her give in to the idea and understanding her reasons behind it made me realize how desperate grief can make us feel.

It made me realize that this feeling – of wanting to do anything that’s remotely possible for that one more moment is normal. The feeling that if it WAS actually possible and hiding it from everyone else seems reasonable. The feeling of wanting to conquer despair, the loss of someone so special along with loneliness is just natural.

Would I do it? Would I have pulled what Martha had pulled?

Probably.

Would I have ended up resenting my decision?

Yes.

Why?

It wouldn’t be the real T-Mitch. It would have been a fake – a wannabe and no, it wouldn’t have been right.

Would I have confined this fake T-Mitch into an attic for the rest of his existence?

No. I don’t think there’s any real way to hide something like that – even though I understand why Martha chose to take that route. I think she dealt with it the wrong way in the end.

I would have shared what I chose to do with people and would have ended up saying, “Yeah, he’s a fake, but it’s the closest thing we have around so fuck it.”

Like Martha, I would have regretted it. As much as I’d like to have him back right now, I have to let him rest. It would be too selfish even if it were possible and this reality sucks. Every morning I wake up hoping I had been living a long, cruel nightmare… hoping this reality was all a bad dream.

It’s not. This is the hardest part of the day …. the second hardest part is finding the ability to go to bed alone.

On the binge-watching note (see how I switched gears?) … I saw on one of my online therapy groups that Ricky Gervais’ show, “After Life” is a pretty a big hit in the widow community. I started it this evening and it’s been really good! Yes, there are so many trigger points and I shed plenty of tears, but it’s been worth it. I’ve always loved Ricky’s work and I have even more respect for him now.

In a British accent: “Well good night then, yeah?”

My birthday circa 2010 @ Pappadeaux

Baseball Way of Life

Good grief … this is so f****ing HARD! Torey lived for this shit and I lived for this shit because both him and Das lived for this shit. The three of us worked as a team to get in and out of the ballpark – regardless of which park – and it was our way of life.

This didn’t apply just to summer ball – it was whenever ball. Doing this without Torey has been heartbreaking. I feel his spirit, I do. I just miss listening to his quips and his conversations about the game. He loved watching Das play – it brought him so much JOY and yes, frustration sometimes – I mean, he DID get ejected from the game just being a spectator!

This season has been particularly hard because Das hasn’t been happy with the team we were on. There were several grievances and Das has spoken up for himself – didn’t wait on me or asked me to step in. I suppose he feels like he needs to be his own voice rather than rely on anyone – in the past Torey was his voice. T-Mitch would talk to the Coaches on Das’ behalf. I’m proud of Das… I can rely on the fact that he can speak for himself as well as Torey could.

We used to drop Das off at the field since he’d have to be there an hour before the game. Then we’d go and find the closest Chili’s depending on what time it was and park ourselves at the bar. We would have a drink or two and head back to the ballpark, giggling and shootin’ the shit. These times are gone now.

T-Mitch would always laugh whenever he found himself teaching me something new about the game – whether it was a baseball nuance or a play. I miss this.

We would cringe at early morning games together, bitch and moan… but, we’d get up and soldier on and get our boy to the destination. Sometimes the drive time would be an hour or more…

I miss running and getting more ice in between games on a hot day with him. Any time spent in an air conditioned setting was such a relief for us and we treasured it together!

I miss showing him the pictures I’d take on my camera in between plays. “That’s a good shot, ‘Nita!”

I miss hearing his conversations with other parents, players, coaches and the umpires. His laugh was infectious.

Since we ran Green Sox together with Joe we knew what the expenses were so anytime a ball was hit as a foul ball outside of the field and was unreachable or lost, Torey was known to say, “Five dollars!” Some parents still say that because of him!

I spend so much time watching videos and looking at pictures I took during ball games…. just to hear his voice. I wish I filmed him more. I wish for so much, but I know none of it is possible.

This past weekend being in College Station to watch Das play ball broke me a few times. It reminded me of our travel time for tournaments from last summer. He looked forward to more of this … he simply couldn’t wait. I just enjoyed the journey with him … to see Das grow as a player.

Das plays with passion. He plays with soul for his own soul because baseball is one of his saving graces. He loves the game so much. Torey taught him that.

I am forever grateful and miss my T-Mitch so, so, soooo much.

Torey Mitchell | Belligerent Gus Blog
Click here for a short video: https://photos.app.goo.gl/tbbFxcQbTgephrKdA

Jack of All Eco-Trades

This day-to-day has been quite difficult since June 6th for us … our only mode of transportation broke down and we have been without. Our truck is the last material thing that Torey was in when he passed. I don’t know why, but I feel like I need to keep it for that sentiment … along with the fact that I don’t want two car notes in one year. I can’t afford it.

Das wants a car and Torey promised him one … so I’m determined to make it happen. It’s just been struggle after struggle the past few weeks and I’m overwhelmed.

On a brighter note: Das and I have managed to keep it real with one another. He has grown up a lot these past few months and has been an anchor for me. I’m so proud of him – and he’s surrounded by so many uplifting friends, parents, coaches and teachers. I’m truly grateful.

I have spent a lot of time looking through photo albums (online and through photo albums) – playing videos of Torey these past few weeks leading up to his birthday and father’s day. I’ve been working on getting his journal entries on to a digital format so his train of thought has been fresh on my mind.

He truly wanted to help the poor, the helpless, the oppressed and wanted to see social reform. His material speaks volumes now more than ever before because of the current social climate. I need to spend some time going to our storage unit and gather more material that may be in there. My current transportation situation is hindering me from accomplishing this, so it’s going to be a few more weeks.

In the interim … I will share a sketch I worked on last night. It’s pretty rough and I’ll probably work on more. I wasn’t exactly sober so … there’s that.

Also, just so you know how much of a “Jack of all eco-trades” he was, I included all of the business cards he used within the past 10 to 11 years. I know I’m missing a few. I still haven’t gone through all of the cards he collected – and man! There are SO MANY!

He was proud of all of the business cards he had, but 2 stand out: Green Dream and Green Sox. He truly believed in everything he did – he knew people who didn’t understand his passion, but that didn’t hinder him. Torey never let anyone’s negativity rub off on him – this is something Das and I have learned from him.

We’re proud of you, T-Mitch. Love you … and miss you.

  • Sketch of T-Mitch
  • Torey Mitchell | Belligerent Gus Blog | The Green Dream Company
  • Torey Mitchell | Belligerent Gus Blog | Green Sox Baseball
  • Torey Mitchell | Belligerent Gus Blog | Balcones Resources
  • Torey Mitchell | Belligerent Gus Blog | Recycle Revolution

His Birthday is Coming

Torey’s birthday is coming up on the 18th … I’m not sure how I feel about it. I think of my mother-in-law, Vivi, often and the pain she’s going through as well.

A beautiful soul was born that day back in 1976 only to be taken too soon…

Born in Wadley Regional Medical Center…

I feel like I was there based on the many times I’ve heard his Grandmother Charlotte and Vivi describe that day…

It rained and rained…

The hospital flooded…

He was a healthy young baby and as a young boy loved spending time with family…

Torey loved to reminisce about spending time at his Grandparents’ house on Des Moines street…

Loved climbing trees…

Enjoyed his Grandmother’s cooking and her bountiful garden…

Enjoyed watching his Grandfather fix the front porch – how he could hammer the nail into the wood with just one powerful stroke…

How the flowers bloomed – tulips, hydrangeas stood out to him the most…

He loved picking berries and fishing with a pan in the nearby creek…

His love of sports, especially baseball…

Spending time and playing with his best friend, Gib, and later his younger brothers…

Then there were the darker times during his childhood, things he didn’t disclose to just anyone…

His childhood alone was enough of an experience that shaped him into the man he became…

The teenage years helped him discover a fun, crazy and an eye-opening social life…

His love for baseball grew but he decided to set it aside…

The first birthday I celebrated with Torey was his 20th in 1996…

So young and SO deep in love!

We grew into adulthood together and what an amazing journey…

Living in Houston during our 20s was an absolute blast – we were free to the world, making mistakes which we later learned from, but we never lost sight of one another…

Our 30s marks the time we started our family when Das entered our lives…

The bond between the three of us was and always is our super glue…

Fatherhood allowed Torey to fully become the caring man he always wanted to be for Das…

Baseball re-entered his life again and he couldn’t have been happier…

Everything he did was to make sure Das was prepared for high-school level of competition – yes, everything…

Sure, he gave a damn about the environment and took initiative…

He marched to the beat of his own drum – a trait I’ve always admired and fully supported…

Torey would come up with so many incredible ideas and I was there to back him up and help him…

There isn’t anything he couldn’t do, or I wouldn’t do for him…

He just needed a little more time to get to where he wanted to get to…

2020 was going to be the year for him and he always talked about this, always reassured me that our lives will improve, and Das will be set for college level baseball…

This was supposed to be his year…

This was supposed to be the year we were going to celebrate our 25th year of being together…

Maybe we were supposed to celebrate another 25 years together or maybe we weren’t… but if we weren’t supposed to then why did he have to leave this world so soon? Why?

It’s not fair and yes, acceptance has set in, but not 100%…

I still feel:

Grief. Cheated. Trauma. Anger. Emotional pain. Physical pain. Anxiety. Loneliness. Despair. Frustration. Depression. Nostalgic. Numb. Confusion. Yearning. Panic. Fear. Regret.

The closer his birthday approaches, one feeling I cannot shake: Sadness.

It’s going to be so hard to face June 18th

Yes, I will be celebrating Torey Mekhale Mitchell as best as I can – Das will, too…

But dammit … it’s not supposed to be this way. Period. 

Thoughts & Creativity

I’m going through some of the only journals Torey kept from the time period before Das was born: mainly 2002.

I’m working on placing all of his work on a digital platform to share with the world… still undecided on which platform so feel free to share your suggestions with me.

He was so creative … and so passionate about social justice. He would have had some intense conversations with many of you by now. Genius is probably an understatement.

It’s his thoughts, poems, lyrics, essays and art work he created. I hope this brings inspiration to people.

Up-Cycled Love

At the beginning of last month, I found myself in my closet, holding on to Torey’s clothes he had on when he passed away. I shed so many tears, felt the urge to hold on to his torn-up shirt and jeans. His Grandfather had gifted Torey the shirt – Granddaddy used to wear it often and during one of our visits to Texarkana, he was clearing out some stuff in his closet. He handed the shirt to Torey and told him to use it. T-Mitch was like, “For real!? Because this shirt is so DOPE!” The memory always makes me smile because they exchanged quite a few chuckles that day in the house off Sanderson Lane.

After composing myself and drying my tears, I laid the material on my bed and decided to up-cycle the material into something useful. Torey’s jeans were his only pair that didn’t have holes in ‘em so he used them frequently for work. When he wasn’t working, he’d be in his “holy” jeans. I knew T-Mitch would be all for up-cycling the material.

I YouTubed how-to videos and decided a purse would do. Initially I wanted to take on this challenge even though my sewing skills are less than average … okay, non-existent! I figured I’d check on purchasing a sewing machine, but after Googling and Amazoning, I decided the investment wouldn’t be worth it because I honestly don’t have a passion for being a Suzy-homemaker or whatever. Instead, I took to Facebook to see if anyone would let me borrow their machine. I was blown away by the number of people who offered their machine to me – thank you SO much!

After thinking about it some more, I decided it would be better to leave this task in the hands of a more skilled seamstress (I can’t imagine how bad I would have messed up and possibly even ruin the limited amount of material!). One of Torey’s favorite bartenders/waitresses, Brianne, from Twin Peaks saw my message and she messaged me. Brianne said her Nana Myra, is an amazing seamstress who used to make Halloween costumes for her and her brother – she showed me a picture and I was comforted by the offer.

Brianne also went on to tell me that Torey appeared in her dream the night before… he was in a car and the window was up and he was all smiles. Brianne was with Shada, a dear friend who used to wait on Torey, too. Both were in tears at being able to see Torey and she said all he did was smile at them. Brianne woke up and felt actual tears on her face and after she saw my Facebook message she was floored. I was equally in awe and knew in my spirit that this was the right call. I’m pretty sure Brianna and Nana Myra would agree, too.

I rushed to the post office and sent Brianne the material since she lives in Waco – I couldn’t wait to see what was going to become of the material!

A few weeks went by and Brianne sent these images to me to show Nana’s progress:

Amazing, right? Well Brianne drove all the way from Waco last Friday to bring the finished product. We met at Twin Peaks in Lewisville (my first time out in a public environment since the COVID-19 quarantine!) and Shada joined us, too, with her handsome son, Quinn! Simply amazing. Lo and behold, here is the finished product:

  • Nana Mayra | Torey Mitchell | Belligerent Gus Blog
  • Nana Mayra | Torey Mitchell | Belligerent Gus Blog
  • Nana Mayra | Torey Mitchell | Belligerent Gus Blog
  • Nana Mayra | Torey Mitchell | Belligerent Gus Blog
  • Nana Mayra | Torey Mitchell | Belligerent Gus Blog
  • Nana Mayra | Torey Mitchell | Belligerent Gus Blog

I can’t tell you how happy this makes me, or how much comfort it brings to me. As soon as Das saw it, he said, “New baseball purse, Ma!” and yes, I will be carrying this around every ballpark from here on out. Speaking of ballparks, Das’ summer baseball season starts on Torey’s birthday this month – and to be honest we’re a little torn-up about this because the tourney is in Tomball and I won’t be able to make it down there. Das will be going to the tournament with our dear friends, The Martin Family, and I’m so thankful for them! I know one thing is for sure – Torey won’t be missing these games!

Thank you, Brianne and Nana Myra! Many blessings to you and your sweet gesture – this is a priceless gift and I will treasure it forever.

State of Mind

I’ve been gifted with several books about Grief during the time of the funeral. They sat on my bedside table, untouched for months. I started reading them last week and I feel like they’re a re-run of the book I read before. Yes, they make sense. No, I’m not sure how good they are for me. I find myself asking, “Where exactly am I during this grieving process?”

The answer to this question is kind of all over the place to be honest. I think the first major step is true acceptance which didn’t really hit me until probably March of this year. I know it has only been six months, but in retrospect the time period between November and March was the darkest hour of my life. I can’t speak for Das. I feel like Das and I are on the same journey but on two different roads.

It’s not like I don’t like the books – I’m thankful I have them. I just … maybe it’s too soon to be reading these? Yes, they make sense, but at the same time I feel like processing what they’re saying is too hard and too much. For me (and maybe for Das) it’s talking about our feelings with those we know can understand is the best therapy. Talking to people who have lost a significant other is the ultimate therapy for me. Yes, losing any loved one is so hard, but to lose someone who was literally your better half is just so much harder to explain… especially when it was an out of the blue moment.

Das and I talk about dealing with Grief often and we realized that we’re becoming “coaches” to other people. He’s become a sounding board to many of his close friends while I listen and talk to people in my online Grief groups. I’ve even had several phone/video conversations with total strangers, and it’s been good for me. Das doesn’t mind this either and I’m thankful for this.

I’m all about learning how to cope so I’m grateful for the books. I’ll read them and whatever I gain will come to me at the right time. For those of you who have gifted me with these books, please don’t feel like you hindered me in any way. You should know that it’ll all come together for me (us) at some point.

No, I don’t feel like I’m out of the darkest hour, but it feels like I’m getting a little bit closer to be. I think it just depends on the day.

On another note, there’s been too much time for reflection:

  • How could I have been a better spouse / partner / best friend / soul mate / lover / mother? (There are so many things I could have done better)
  • What could I have done to take better care of Torey? (So many times I could have insisted much more than I did to get him to go see a doctor, but he just didn’t want to)
  • Would knowing CPR at the time of the tragic accident have helped the situation? (In retrospect, probably not, but I wish I had known and intend to take classes)
  • Should I have been a bigger nag to take care of his health than he already thought I was? (If I had been a bigger nag than I already was then we may not have still been together, but I wish I had taken this risk)

There are so many more thoughts and questions that go through my mind from an hourly basis – it’s not something I can’t stop thinking about.

On another note, I find myself going through old pictures and videos just to see and hear him again. I enjoy sharing my dreams of him and here’s one I had the other night:

Torey was driving Das and I – we were on a road trip. The radio was on, warning us about a bad thunderstorm headed our way. Torey was wearing a white collar, full sleeved shirt with a black fedora. He was in good spirits when the trip first started, but as the weather seemed to get bad he got quiet. The sky looked ominous – not sure where we were headed but I think we were on 75 headed north. A few hours in, Torey and Das got hungry so Torey decided to pull over to get something to eat. He pulled into a small ma-and-pa seafood restaurant (I was on my phone checking this place out to make sure it was okay, but that didn’t stop my man). We got a table near a window – there was a BBQ restaurant across the street that said it was only open for lunch and it was closed at the time.

We ordered our food and ate, had good conversations – Torey was in better spirits now that he was fed and had a few drinks. Before we were ready to leave, he said, “Man, never order ribs here – my food was terrible!” In classic fashion Das and I looked at each other like “Whaaaat!?” So, I said, “T-Mitch, you came to a seafood restaurant and ordered ribs, dude. I mean …”

That’s where the dream ended. Yeah, he probably saw the BBQ spot across the street and wanted some good BBQ but got desperate (which we’ve all done!). I shared this dream with Das the next day and his response was, “Yeah, that sounds like Dad…”

If you don’t know: Torey and Das were super close – baseball was their most common bond. As I was scrolling through images, I found a series of images I had to make a gif file for. Here you go:

I put these images of my boys playing catch a few years ago… wish I had done more of this!

I’m documenting another moment in this current time:

#BlackLivesMatters

I am outraged. Das is outraged. I know Torey is, too – he was probably there to welcome Mr. Floyd to the fold – F*** Racism (f***ing assholes).

That. Is. All.

This is Comforting

A dear friend, Brotha Ed, shared this with me:

Torey and I often talked about energy and how we believe one never truly goes away once you die. I find this comforting and understand not everyone believes in this or agrees with this train of thought. Neither of us ever had the drive to be religious – certainly not in the way each of us were raised. However, we believe in spirituality more than anything – a feeling of being connected to each other as human beings along with the connection to Mother Earth.

Thank you, Ed, for sharing this with me! Torey and I have always appreciated your creative soul and words of wisdom. The universe loves you and we do, too!

Torey had quoted this from one of Das’ favorite cartoons we all watched together back in 2007: Avatar: The Last Airbender

Twee and La, Push and Pull, Life and Death, Yin and Yang! #oneness #balance

May 2, 2017, 10:35 PM via Facebook

Das | Dreams | Detours

24 weeks in … it’s hard to believe we’re in the sixth month since T-Mitch’s tragic loss. Six months … never thought I could go this long without him and it’s hard to accept the notion of having to live like this until my own death.

I truly appreciate those of you who have been checking up on him whether via phone calls or texts. He doesn’t always respond right away so don’t take it personally – it’s a teenage thing (I think). Quarantine life with him has been decent actually – we give each other our space most of the time. I only see him if he’s hungry or thirsty during the day. In the evenings if I’m watching something he’s interested in, then he’ll join me. We watch ‘The Last Dance’ together so that’s been great – it’s easy to hear Torey’s thoughts while watching this show and I know Das feels the same way.

Das has been going through it, too … we had one of the most epic heart to hearts last week and it was good for both of us. He talked about the music he listens to in such a way that it reminded me of how he had been interested in producing beats when he was younger. Of course, Torey was absolutely thrilled about this and encouraged him … he’d rap to Das’ beats – absolutely loved it. I think Das is ready to get back to this passion and I have every intention on helping him – so be on the lookout!

The school semester is about to end – it’s been a difficult road for Das for the past six months. He’s had a hard time focusing and he’s been going through his own emotional roller coaster. Luckily, he has an amazing support system from his high school counselors, coaches, friends, and teammates – along with many parents. Das struggled with keeping his grades up and it was the cause of a lot of stress between the two of. Something beautiful came out of this though – after our heart-to-heart convo, it helped us understand one another on a new level. It’s been quite a journey and we still have a long road to travel, but we have each other to rely on and that’s all that matters.

On another note, my dreams have been more and more intense to say the least. For example, in a dream two nights ago we were with Torey, hanging out at Twin Peaks with Das (as per usual, right!?) – we talked about our day and drifted down memory lane. To see him laugh and smile again just warmed my soul. He told us he had to go but I didn’t let go of his hand, instead I woke up before he could say bye because I didn’t want him to say bye.

I’ve been letting Das DJ whenever we venture out on a food-run excursion, so his play list has been Travis Scott, Post Malone, 21 Savage, etc. etc. I’m not a fan of most of this stuff, but I do like Kendrick and J Cole. Anyway, recently I had a dream that I was hanging out with Das and we ran into some of his friends – next thing I know Post Malone is in the group and I was like, “Wait, aren’t you Post Malone?? What are you doing here!?” The dude responded with, “Man I dunno, I’m just tryna chill witch’y’all, ya know?” with his arms out and his goofy grin and tattooed face. SMH! I told Das the next day and that cracked him up pretty good.

We were allowed to sit at the bar with Das during the day at Twin Peaks in Addison when I took this picture (2018). Torey is cracking up because he was reminding Das of all of the cartoons and kiddy shows he used to watch when he was younger – Das had retorted with something like, “You’re making me cringe right now, Dad!”

I’m incredibly proud of Das and I know Torey is, too. After checking his grades yesterday, I almost fell out of my chair because he had been in the red for the past few months and this is no longer the case!! I called him into the room as if I was upset and when he came out, I gave him the biggest hug and a huge kiss on his cheek – he looked bewildered with his “What’s-wrong-with-you-Ma?” expression. As a reward I made some shrimp and spinach alfredo (he devoured it and had seconds – this makes me SO HAPPY!)

Happy Mother’s Day BTW.

I just got back from puttin’ my son to bed and takin some time to lay with him and listen to his heartbeat. It made me realize how grateful I am for every breath and heartbeat that my son takes! He is the single biggest blessing of my life!

T-Mitch, May 8, 2009