*A post made in 2015 from a previously owned blog
Have you ever been watching television and experienced that moment of superficial sadness whenever you see that someone was smashed in a tragic accident? Or when you see someone was shot and killed? How about when you see live testimonials from missing persons who somehow escaped their inevitable death and made it out to tell their story? I have. I always look at the television and just think to myself, “Gee, that is so sad. I literally couldn’t even imagine that happening to myself or someone I actually know”. I find that although I’m trying to be as empathetic as possible, it doesn’t really make a difference in my life. Why should it matter?
I was sitting in my dorm on a Thursday night, typing up a paper that was due on the following Monday. I remember being so stressed because the paper that I was typing was just one of the four. I had my phone on Do Not Disturb mode because everything that I was doing at that time needed to be finished in a timely manner. For some odd reason, I decided to look at my phone. Luckily for me, I looked just in time to see that my teammate was calling me.
I yelled in excitement simply because everyone was coming back from the May break. I hadn’t seen my beautiful teammates in over a month!
Me: “What’s up, Mappie!”
Though she only said one word, I immediately shifted my mood because her stiff tone told me something wasn’t right.
Me: “What’s going on? What’s wrong? Talk to me.”
I was having a hard time controlling my emotions. I wanted to know what was happening so badly. I wanted to help in any way I could. I wanted to be there for my teammate.
Marqu’es: “Jay. Dai-Jon died, Jay. I don’t even know what’s going on. Bekah called me and she was hysterical. I’m shaking right now. I don’t know, Jay. I just don’t know. I am going to call Coach. Tell the girls. Bekah needs us.”
In this moment, Marqu’es was speaking so quickly, it was almost incoherent. Although she was speaking fast, everything slowed down for me. I stopped typing because my project suddenly seemed to shrink underneath my fingertips. My vision almost seemed delayed. I tried panning the room, but nothing seemed to appear on time. I could feel my palms sweating and my heart starting to patter. Goosebumps scaled my skin, and my head felt so heavy on my shoulders.
Me: “Wait. What? Stop playing. That isn’t funny, man. Stop playing. For real. Don’t joke about stuff like that.”
Marqu’es: “Jay, I’m dead ass serious. I’m not joking. Dai-Jon died. In a boating accident. I think he drowned. Bekah needs us. I have to call coach. Let the girls know now. I’ll call you back in 20 minutes.”
When Marqu’es said she would call me back, I dropped my phone and my body went numb. What am I supposed to think about right now? What do I do? Who do I call? Who needs to know about this? How can I make things easier for Bekah right now? How do I tell the girls? How do I answer all of these questions?!
The fact of the matter was – I didn’t know the answer to any of them, nor did I know any processes I could go through to answer them. I froze.
Although I did not know what to do when I received this terrible news, one thing I did know is that every single moment of my life flashed before my eyes. Every. Single. Moment. It was almost as if my entire life was being shown in a slide show that was scrolling across my brain. I was no longer watching this tragic story on television. I was given a front row seat with stale popcorn and flat soda to one of the most tragic things I’ve witnessed in my 20 years of living, and I wanted my money back.
I was so ashamed of what I had missed. I recalled joking around with Dai-Jon about how he looked like Oscar off of Car Wash. Everyone scoffed at his dreams of being drafted. I did not bother to ask anyone how his transferring process went when he left Vanderbilt. I did not bother to see how his season went. Was he doing well? I didn’t know. It didn’t directly affect my life, so what difference should it have made?
Within the next hour or so of the news leaking that our dear friend had passed, his name was plastered all over social media. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. In the grand scheme of things, while the support is so beautiful and necessary for his family to see how loved Dai-Jon was, none of it mattered. Those tweets, Facebook updates, Instagram posts – my blog – none of it matters anymore.
During my disturbing moment of realization, I made a vow to myself.
I vowed to do something that scares me everyday because life is too short to play it safe.
I vowed to forgive more because grudges only fester.
I vowed to be unapologetic about what I believe in.
I vowed to love furiously.
I vowed to fail in flames of glory. Go down kicking and screaming. Be an alley cat.
I vowed to believe in myself more.
I vowed to tell people how I feel about them because a stupid tweet just won’t suffice after we’re gone.
I vowed to feel more.
I vowed to get shit done.
I vowed to encourage people in their dreams no matter how big or small they may seem.
I made a vow to live my life the way I intended – no matter how difficult the circumstances become.
This loss is being felt, especially in the Vanderbilt Community. Once a ‘dore, always a ‘dore. Everyone knew Dai-Jon and loved his energy. It was almost as if his aura was like a B-12 shot that was being administered to the wind that swept up those surrounding him. Although I did not know Dai-Jon as well as others, I do know how he made my teammate feel. She spoke of him in high regard with stars in her eyes, no matter what their circumstances were. Her love for him was undeniably pure. That was good enough for me. Easy does it, Dai-Jon.