Gwen Ifill is Dead and I’m Alive
Getting older is rough. You can’t escape who you really are and no matter how hard you try (and you have to try really, really, hard) — you can’t pretend that the end of the year is another injection that you don’t want to endure because even if you run away — the needle is precise enough to poke at the most inopportune time.
It keeps hitting that exact spot. Covered clothing, over-sized undies be damned.
You will be zapped and when it happens, the sensation encourages eyes open and the mind unfolded with visions of your youth and the days when you thought being a grown up was the coolest thing that you could accomplish.
I am accomplished.
I’ve reached maturity. I even have the premature gray hairs as proof. I am old enough to be a college professor and yet — I am still trying to complete the thesis that almost threatened my graduation so long ago.
I am older than my mother and way older than my father. I am embarrassingly younger than my much younger sibling, and the other sibling is about the same age as me even though his birth certificate sets him a few paces back.
In terms of professional discipline, I am an infant.
Sure, they tell me that I have some talent and that I deserve to be inducted into programs that cater to my kind. Yes, I wrote an essay in college when I was a sophomore for British Lit, and the professor told the class that she was going to read a piece of work that she felt needed to bee exposed.
I sat there and heard my words. I sank into my chair with fear and pride — but there was no social media outlet on standby — so my real-life testimony had to serve as proof of my awesomeness.
I did good! I knew what I was but I couldn’t get anyone to believe me!
I tried. I really did. I was denied entry to Time Out New York, which was painful. I remember reading the rejection letter out loud as my mother watched me with empathy. The tears streaming down my face as each word sliced my flesh.
I thought parents weren’t supposed to watch their kids die.
What was I supposed to do? I can do this. I can be this. I can make you like me or I can make you want me through expression and literary prowess. Don’t laugh at my letter of want. Don’t dispense with the extraordinary for the names that match your roster.
Where is diversity when you need it so badly?
It’s here. But, I am riddled with bitterness and a pompous sense of requirement.
I won’t beg and I won’t gravel for your love.
I mean your “like.” Love is no longer valid. We “like.” I like a lot of things. I like your pictures in exotic locales that host your ability to keep parties afloat. I like the fabric of the cloth that drenches your skin dry as your messy bun glistens in the yellow moon. I like your hubby or soon-to-be hubby and the kids that I met before you even knew of their existence. I like the tools that instruct us to hate ourselves so we can love strangers enough to finally love what we don’t know.
I loved Gwen Ifill and now she is dead, and I’m alive. So what now?
Her career achievements are staggering. She was everything before nothing meant something. I went through her assets again when the news hit. Yes, she was the real deal. Her countenance dissecting the page as my eyes and ears were filling up with envy.
But, she wasn’t having my shit.
As with everyone who has an audience of fans that will hail your transition to beyond and forever, her immediate absence warranted every form of recognition from the top to the highest.
Death is ugly. Sleeping into it sounds peaceful but it’s not and anything that ravages the body is worse.
I will die one day and it won’t be pretty. It might even be way worse than what Gwen endured.
But, what’s worse is that she will be remembered and I will just be the good writer with followers. The good writer who never quite made it to the top.
So, what now?
I…try to understand what I just wrote and published and beg you to do the same while I mourn the person who did what I wanted to do without a blemish in execution.