Well, it’s another week of quarantine, and I’m still here.  This time, I’m just hanging on.  You know, after the death of my mother, for the first time in my life, I became keenly aware of what loneliness is.  You see, my mother was the only person on this planet that loved me for nothing else other than waking up.  All that I had to do was wake up, and I knew that she loved me.  When she died, to a very real degree, so did love.  In a state of either hopelessness or desperation, my soul screamed to her.  She answered back.  Just as surely as my hands are stroking the keys of my computer, my mother told me that I should create a program for kids like me.  She told me that in doing so, I would experience pure love from another perspective.  I had nothing to lose, so I did.  I created a program called Youngstarz.  This program did more than help the kids I served.  At times, I could feel the pain that kept me up at night slowly, but surely, diminish into time.    I began to find reasons to look forward to the new day rather than dream about days long gone.  Youngstarz.  Proudly, I can say that I have served hundreds of Youngstarz throughout the course of my career.  It doesn’t matter which school the program took place in, which neighborhoods the children lived in, or what the socioeconomic makeup of the communities may have been, because all members of Youngstarz did, and still do, have one thing in common; love.  Love is powerful.  Love saved my life.  Love changed my life.  Today, I only exist to love.  Last night, I learned that a member of Youngstarz took their own life.  I’m hurting in a way that I can’t even explain.  Honestly, I feel like someone cut a gash in the wounds caused by the death of my mother.  I couldn’t sleep last night.  I can’t think today.  I am riddled with guilt.  I wish that she would have called me.  I would have tried to talk to her.  Most importantly, I would have listened.  I would have assembled a team to help her.  I would have done something other than what I actually did; nothing.  I didn’t choose to do nothing.  I didn’t know she was suffering.  I’ve been so concerned with wearing this freaking mask that I forgot who I was actually trying to save.  In addition to feeling guilty, I’m also angry.  I know that God has a plan, but it’s times like these that cause me to feel lost in the why of it all.  I’m hurt.  Youngstarz, you all thought that I was saving you, but it was actually you that saved me.  I was so preoccupied with trying to inspire, encourage, and propel you into a life that transcended your experiences that I didn’t take the time to tell you all what you mean to me.  You became my reason when my reasons were no more.  You made me laugh when I felt as though there was nothing to laugh at.  You made me dance when I forgot that I actually could.  You made me eat dishes I would have never eaten.  Most importantly, you gave love back to me.  I’ve always said that my Mother took something from me when she left, but it’s clear that all of you knew I was wrong.  I had it all along.  I’ve never said this, but each year that all of you graduate, my heart breaks and smiles at the same time. It breaks because I know that this is the beginning of our remember when.  It smiles because it is also the beginning of I’m about to.  Youngstarz… Thank you for giving lunch deeper meaning.  Thank you for stepping on the very ground that most of you felt buried beneath.  Thank you for defying the odds.  Thank you for surviving abuse, neglect, apathy, fear, self-hatred, poverty, disabilities, family deaths, and insurmountable odds.  Thank you.  When I leave this world, I will leave comforted in the fact that you are still here.  I know that your hearts are broken too.  Instead of focusing on the pain that we are all feeling, remember the laughter. Remember the fact that she couldn’t step to save her life!  Remember her passion.  Remember how greedy she was when we got pizza.  Remember the tears that fell from her face as she said, “I ain’t soft or nothing.  I just love ya’ll.”  Remember her plans.  Remember her.  Remember her.  Remember you.  Remember us.  Remember love.  Nothing real can ever be broken, and true love never dies.  Nothing real can ever be broken, and true love never dies.  Because of all of you, I will live forever…She lives still..I love you.  Patrick a.k.a “Mr. Gee”

This week, speak about mental health to someone who is in need.  Be honest.  We all struggle with our minds at times.  Therefore, don’t confuse the refusal to acknowledge with strength.  They are completely contrary.  Speak about it.  Do something about it.  Change it.  No one should feel so alone that taking their own life is their only viable option.  I have to bury one of my own in a few days.  I pray that you never have to do the same.  As always, if you make it to where you’re going, please don’t forget to leave a map for the rest of us.  Always Choose Love….

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