I Still Call Him Nay-Nay

For Nathaniel Brian Jones (1980-2006). The dreamer, the schemer and the secret genius. May he find rest in the life after. I’m not anxious to get there, but grateful to see him again.

This week marks the twelfth year since my closest cousin was murdered here in St. Louis. Sometimes, I feel like my succeeding birthdays since 2006 have marked time reminiscent of The Twilight Zone.

I felt that my life reminded my aunt she no longer had her son, my cousin, Nathaniel–whom my Aunt Linda affectionately called “Nay-Nay.”

He and I were 10 months apart and our mothers were born 9 months apart. With my birthday in June and his in August, we would joke we were the same age in July.

As we grew up, he became impossible, someone I didn’t recognize and I hated him for it. He slammed my right hand in a card door because he was mad at me–on purpose knowing I’m right handed. I hated he had gotten tricked in the promise of what St. Louis streetlife offered. I hated he couldn’t do school seriously and his mother was a teacher, and had a stepfather that loved him. I hated what he became and rarely spoke to him.

After being shot the first time, I told him to leave St. Louis in 2003. I was petrified he would die. He didn’t listen. Three years later, after he promised he wouldn’t leave me, he was shot again and died–the week of Father’s Day, 5 days before my birthday, and interred the day before my 25th birthday.

No one asked how I was holding up.

It is only in the past 3, almost 4 years I have been able to talk about what he meant to me. I was my childhood best friend, bane of existence and sometimes mortal enemy. He was brash, loud and cocky; now eternally 25. And I miss him…feeling robbed of who he may have become.

I wonder, if he had listened to me, what would have happened. Would we be close again? Would the gap widen to a chasm? Would he even still talk to me?

In these moments of quiet mourning, I remind myself of the promise this life held for him and for me. I remember that although I loved him, I could not make his choices. I made the decision to remember him as he was, forgive him for what he became, and make the decision to live this life for me.

As I go on this trek God has for me, I can spot Nathans. Talk to them and decipher the IDGAFness they often possess. I can speak to the King in them because they need to know it’s there. They need to know they matter and someone else can see they can do better, and ignore the fool that may speak.

I remember my cousin as the bright boy who played with me, got me in trouble, and knew how to talk his way out of anything. As he sleeps until His return, my prayer is, as restless as Nay could be, he is finally resting.

[image by Google]

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