Last Friday I found myself on the verge of a breakdown. The tears would not stop and for a moment I felt like giving up on everything I’d been working towards. I forced myself to calm down long enough to realize how blessed and fortunate I am. After all, what I viewed as a crisis was simply a lastminute email from my new employer with tax forms and other paperwork they needed within the hour. First of all, I don’t like to do things at the last minute, especially when using technology that I already struggle with. “E-sign”, really? Suddenly I became overwhelmed with anxiety. Panic set in after numerous failed attempts at trying to reach out for help. Moments before the temptation of hurling the damn computer out of the window, it struck me that the unexpected was actually yet another blessing. I hadn’t anticipated being offered the position so soon after training and becoming certified. I’m not sure if I was more upset from being forced to use the computer or not being able to find help. Either way like usual, I took my time, figured it out and got it done. Once I calmed my nerves, shortly after I found myself on the phone having a conversation with someone, I first crossed paths with nearly twenty-five years ago. It’s amazing how God is always working! Although it may be in his own time, He is still right on time. In that moment He knew exactly what I needed in hearing from not only one of my biggest supporters, but also one who’s been the most loyal.
My dearest friend, known as Damo (long “a”) and I didn’t meet on the best of terms initially. In fact, we were introduced by a mutual friend which led to an argument between Damo and I that had me certain we were about to go head-to-head in battle. A challenge that at the time, I believed I was ready for. However, I soon learned that Damo is not a man that would even raise a hand to a woman but will definitely speak his mind with authority. Unaware that he and I actually shared several mutual friends, for months after our first encounter we found ourselves constantly giving each other the side eye staying on guard when in one another’s presence. Something we both continue to laugh about now. One day a friend finally suggested we talk in an attempt to solve the silly misunderstanding as the tension was making the others we cared about extremely uncomfortable. Before long Damo and I were hanging out after work most days with our drink of choice back then, Paul Mason. We’d listen to music, talk about a variety of topics for hours sitting on the concrete steps of the apartment complex. I learned how extremely intelligent Damo is, especially after getting to know his dad who is Pops to all of us. Damo loves to read and has always been passionate about our history and culture. Most of what he shared with me went over my head at the time, yet I still listened with curiosity because somehow deep inside I knew that the knowledge he was sharing would benefit me later, as it did. I’ve learned a great deal from Damo as well as Pops through our friendship over the years, including a fabulous jerk chicken recipe. We spent so much time simply talking that some of the folks in our neighborhood often assumed we were a couple which had never crossed our minds. There was no way in hell! He and I were two very dominant personalities with a degree of stubbornness. In fact, I am the female version of him and vice versa.
We did, however, grow so close that there came a point in time, the first time I really needed him and was almost afraid to ask because although we were close, I wasn’t always sure what to expect from Damo and was a bit intimidated. Besides my brother I didn’t trust anyone with my children except Damo. Not only because he has kids of his own, but what I do know is that he is always solid and won’t sugar coat anything and is a man of his word. We shared the same moral values, especially when it comes to family. I had begun working so many hours due to a promotion and needed a sitter for my son who was also at the potty-training stage. I was a bit frantic, and Damo was the only “man” I knew to turn to. To my surprise and relief, without hesitation he gladly took on the task. A few years ago, when I was going through a rough time and came to visit me, he actually thanked me, expressing how much it meant to him that I trusted him with my son. I was in awe because it meant even more to me for him to take on the responsibility when I had no one else to depend on.
Over the years Damo has become like a brother to me, my children call him uncle. Although we don’t talk much or get to see each other often, now residing in different cities, we’ve managed to always stay connected one way or another. He’s been there for some major challenges in my life. If someone were to ask what I love most about him, aside from always being brutally honest and keepin’ it real, I’d have to say that he’s always been the life of the party. It sounds small, but the thing is, after my near break down Friday, my son and I visited Damo the next day because once again he was there to offer his professional services to help with a family conundrum. During our visit at the radio station with DJ Damo, he and I talked and as usual he always knows how to shine a light with his insight on every situation and bring out the humor. I couldn’t believe that only the day before I was ready to give up on all that I’d been working so hard for. In the moments of talking to him about what I was feeling it all seemed so silly. For one, I obviously wasn’t alone like I thought I was on Friday. Damo making me laugh non-stop by reminding me of all that I’ve overcome made me realize I was being quite foolish. It wasn’t my spirits alone he lifted, but my son as well. I hadn’t seen him really enjoy himself and having a great time laughing in a while. It had turned out to be a great day. After returning home and reflecting on the day, I couldn’t stop crying but this time they were happy, thankful tears. By simply being in the presence of loved ones and knowing that while I may not have an abundance of people in my corner to lean on, it’s ok because as long as I have the ongoing support of the few solid ones in my life, I’ll be just fine. All those years ago when I thought I wanted to bash Damo’s head in and he probably thought about body slamming me, who would’ve thought such an amazing bond would’ve developed since that moment. He may not smile much which again is why we should never judge a book by its cover, but he has more character and integrity than most and you can always count on him for a good laugh. He is loyal and I am blessed to have Damo in my life. In honor of my best friend turned brother, I love you so please help me with this “toast to a real one”!