The flood of emptiness between our stories is filled with pain, heartache and grief. I remember my last birthday—you called and mocked me on hitting another milestone—we laughed, you teased, I argued, and we smiled. I miss that.
The mischief that coated your voice as you spoke my name, the way you walked with your head slightly tilted like you were always absorbed in your thoughts, your snicker that birthed into merry laughter as you watched me learn from my mistakes.
Late Toba Falode and his sister, writer of this piece, Tolu Falode
I miss looking behind and seeing you eagerly follow as we ran through the house as children, I miss watching you walk ahead as the confident man you had become-strong, supportive and intent on accomplishing your dreams.
I miss hearing you whisper “Happy Birthday Tolu” with such love and sincerity it made my heart melt with joy and thanksgiving. The bond we shared was so special-it was a gift. And it was taken violently from us in your death.
The tears I have cried, the grief that has stalked me this past year as I walked through the gift of another year, knowing you did not have the chance to celebrate yours, has left me empty.
I still look into your eyes and feel the strength of family, the hope of love and the joy of our bond as brother and sister.
As I walk into my next year without that beacon of a smile ushering me into this new milestone, as I step into this next phase without your warm broad shoulders hugging me furiously with love and laughter, my heart once more ruptures with pain at the gift that was taken from us.
Your death has changed our story; but I thank God I was your sister. I thank God I bore the blessing to be called your sibling-I am grateful I watched you smile mischievously and laugh richly from a child to a young man I deeply respected.
I am happy you found your calling in life-I am grateful for the gift God granted to your spirit to sing through eternity with the treasure trove of music you have left behind.
Your voice so full of your character of hope, love and laughter has ushered me into this new phase of our lives as a family. I am happy I can tune my ears to the sound of your music and hear the Toba I knew through the Tyler Fray who sings his dreams, visions and ideas into sounds of melody.
I love you Toba.
It has been a hard year of loss and God, in his infinite wisdom, has allowed your death date to be tied to my birth date. Today I celebrate our laughter and our love and at the same time I weep at what has been lost and stolen—a myriad of memories taken before they reached the realm of reality—a thousand words that could have been shared, a million moments that could have been spent together, all shattered into a gaping emptiness of loss.
I love you and you love me.
“Happy Birthday,” I hear you whisper softly. Though I cannot see your face I can feel your love as you sigh “Happy Birthday Tolu, I love you now, I love you forever more.”
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