You always hear shocking news when you least expect it. Hanging out with a long-time friend and enjoying the nostalgic vibes of social interaction in a whole new way, the evening was flowing comfortably until someone ran into the space with a look of dread on her face.
It was hard to process yet another huge loss, and the painful reminder of how length of a time is a privilege that’s constantly misused.
What’s even more remarkable about the touching statement that Chadwick Boseman’s family released in the wake of his death is the realization that the Black Panther star had been enduring a private battle with colon cancer since his stage III diagnosis in 2016.
This means that the Howard University alum was able to complete more than a handful of movies, including Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, 21 Bridges, Da 5 Bloods and soon-to-be-released Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, while going through the treatment cycle of surgeries and chemotherapy.
Yes, the level of discipline that warrants the fortitude to embark on the spiritual unfolding, that chooses a warrior’s heart to beat to the rhythm of what can’t be humanly possible, isn’t the assignment that many of us would readily accept without trepidation.
But that’s just the point.
When the breaking news went viral, stunned fans had to contend with the revised reality that’s exceptionally brutal, considering how a beloved and revered cultural icon gracefully weathered his challenging season.
Some were quick to weaponize Boseman’s dignified exit to feed nonsensical narratives.
Most of it highlights the immense strength and dedication it requires to accommodate a life-threatening illness, while also inhabiting career-making roles that are both physically tasking and mentally draining, especially when memorable performances exceed the highest of expectations.
And then you have the morbid detours that loudly shame procrastinators or those who are stuck in a rut, with the perfect example of how a real-life hero was able to resort to superhuman tendencies in order to establish a tangible legacy, that would ordinarily take more than a lifetime to accomplish.
The interesting thing about grief and watching those personally affected by the horrors of life’s mercilessness is how our assessments are measured by the fascination of what we can’t fathom, based on the blessing of being spared what eventually catches up to us.
When Vanessa Bryant got up to tearfully pay homage to her late husband, NBA legend Kobe Bryant, and their 13-year-old daughter Gianna, who both died in a helicopter crash, while heading to a Sunday game of basketball, the glowing reviews were heavily directed at the wonderment of how a recent widow who also lost a child, was able to stoically deliver on cue.
It’s been irritating to hear about the power and might of a woman who was visibly broken by an inconceivable life event. But out of pure love for the two people she will miss for the rest of her days, Vanessa Bryant was able to affectingly honor their time well spent with a deeply personal send off.
None of us are ever ready to face the unavoidable consequences for being granted the blessing of birth.
We didn’t ask to be here and yet suddenly, once our senses are able to gauge our surroundings, we find ourselves adapting to what was essentially beyond our control and without consent.
The mysteries of where our souls are housed before entry into the world and where they rest once our number is up, continues to run the gamut between religious beliefs and scientific ideologies.
But what can’t be disputed is the non-negotiable that guarantees imminent departure to wherever we end up once our last breath is confirmed.
In the heightened age of social media and the unruliness of engagements, we’ve been trained to absorb the extremes as if we were made for it.
A narcissistic wife of an A-list actor is inspired to capture her miscarriage in real-time. Another talkative wife of a famous crooner isn’t shy about disclosing details about boob removal surgeries, while a high-powered Hollywood couple create romantic entanglements for public viewing.
It’s all much too much, which is maybe why those who aren’t built for the glaring spotlight naturally choose the option of silence.
This is why Why Chadwick Boseman’s quiet fight is victory for the souls that don’t want the unrest to threaten the journey that requires everything we become when we make it.
The rumors about the man who was king in one of the most culturally relevant masterpieces of our time gained traction when his physical appearance prompted questions that he never answered, and rightfully so.
But even as we gasped in disbelief at the unexpected passing of a brilliant mind and one of the treasures of an industry that was lucky to have him, the crux of our collective grief is defined by how we were excluded from updates of his secret condition.
We ponder how Chadwick Boseman was able to process the burden of his fate on the brightest platforms without skipping a beat, even during grueling training sessions, all the while enduring the severe limitations of a terminal disease.
I’m more invested in the defiance involved with the personal choice to refrain from the attention-seeking era that makes it compulsory to share any and everything with no filters.
Perhaps that’s why it’s hard to imagine how a movie star with so much to live for and the enviable trajectory that eludes many, seamlessly managed to achieve the impossible by privately manifesting his dreams amidst life’s betrayals.
It’s an endearing testimony to the miraculousness of the human spirit, and the durability that permits the fitting selfishness to protect mission statements that regularly get distorted with inappropriate comments to boot.
Chadwick Boseman wisely utilized the time he had left, and gifted his people a catalog of gems that will outlive all of us.
You can picture eager, young Black children waiting with bated breath for their superhero to appear on screen and immeasurably verify their worthiness.
Beyond the action figure and illustration of history’s notables, Boseman turned out to be the beautiful embodiment of the combined characteristics that bestowed the extraordinary men he passionately portrayed on the big screen.
His quiet approach to something much bigger than him resonates with my preferred mode of communication when meditative vibes are needed to combat static interference during a personal crisis.
This isn’t an attempt to capitalize on the tragic end to a courageous battle against a monstrous illness because that’s not my story.
It’s really about giving praise to an undefeated spiritual ally, who did it his way and took the final bow with a bouquet of gratitude and humble recognition for what it means to excel at this thing called life, and honorably transition on your own terms.
They weirdly say that God’s time is the best, but is it though?
There’s cruel irony in leaving right when shit is getting so good it almost hurts.
But that’s the flesh speaking and transcending that phase is the stuff that makes kings of men.
Chadwick Boseman refused to allow his cancer battle to be the center of a universe that will forever bear his name.
And that’s the victory lap not many of us can amass even though we deserve it.
In this age of over-exposure and under-developed mindsets, it’s refreshing to know that there are giants amongst us who arrest the rules of engagement for the only status that truly counts.