In an earlier blog, “The Journey to Recovery Begins”, I introduced you to my cousin Tadea.
Tadea and I always had an incredible relationship. Out of all of my family members, he was the closest to me. Having five sisters, he was more like a brother. At times we drove each other crazy. However, whenever I needed something or someone, there was no doubt who I would call. Just like when I tried to escape from the hospital in “The Journey to Recovery Begins”, Tadea was always there for me. We also had a special whistle we would use to get the other's attention when in public.
He was the biggest free spirit. He walked everywhere and befriended a lot of people. He was extremely sociable and would talk to anybody. No matter where we traveled in Baltimore, Tadea knew someone. He was well known for his personality, jokes, and infamous sayings. “I’m blessed by the best”, “Put your 3D glasses on I’m coming right at you”, and “You’re pretty good” were just a few.
Tadea was also well known for his love and ear for music. He could hear every symbol and instrument used in a beat. He heard all of the things no one else would hear. He also carried a backpack with a beat machine, laptop, and a portable speaker. He would spend hours working on instrumentals and rapping. Once complete he would share it with anyone willing to listen. Oh, and don’t let him get in your car…he was definitely switching the music you were listening to for his.
Tadea and I had a bond that could never be broken. As kids we made a promise to each other that when one of us “made it” (became successful) we would take the other. We also agreed that we would support each other no matter what. This was taken to another level after suffering my spinal cord injury.
He became extremely protective of me. During my recovery, he was one of the only people who never left me. No matter where I was, hospital or home, he did his best to come and see me every day. He would call and say, “put your 3D glasses on, I’m coming right at you.” In approximately 15-20 minutes he would arrive and either do our special whistle or call. I knew his next question. “What are we doing today?” If he couldn’t make it, he always called to check on me.
No matter where I went, he made sure he was there with me. Every sporting event and social event, Tadea was there. We were together so much that when I would go places, we frequently visited without him, I would instantly get asked his whereabouts. My friends from school also became his.
He encouraged me to try new things despite my injury. When I wanted to do something and would be hesitant, he would always reassure me and say, “I’m right here, you’re good.” That was his way of saying he wasn’t going to let anything happen to me. He would assist me with whatever was needed, no questions asked.
My Guardian Angel
September 30, 2015 is another day I’ll never forget. It was approximately 10AM and I was getting dressed when my phone began to ring. I didn’t answer because my intentions were to call him back once I was done. The call also surprised me because he was on a cruise, and I was wondering why he was calling. Before I could get completely dressed my phone rang again. This time it was Tadea’s oldest sister. At the moment I knew something bad had happened. Two calls 2-3minutes apart wasn’t normal.
Answering the phone this time my intuitions were confirmed, it was Tadea. Historically crying his sister screamed “he’s been shot! I’m on my way to the hospital, meet me there.” In denial, I responded “who”. “Tadea, he’s been shot” then she hung up. Still in disbelief, I frantically rushed and got dressed.
Tadea, my best friend, my brother, was murdered. He had been shot multiple times just a few blocks away from my home. That was one of the worse days of my life. My heart was crushed and my world was flipped upside down. The closest person to me, who I confided in and protected me was gone. I was lost! I didn’t know who to talk to or how to deal with this.
Eventually I would turn to God to help me heal from this. It’s still surreal to me and I still struggle but I’ve accepted it. I’ve been able to turn his death into motivation. Tadea knew about the SAFE Center, however he never saw it open and operating. So many of my students face the same circumstances as Tadea and I’ve committed myself to helping as many kids as possible to honor him.
We have a bond that can’t be broken. I have his named tattooed on my wrist so that I can uphold our promise and take him with me when I “make it”. I know he’s proud of what I’ve accomplished so far, and I can hear his voice saying, “You’re pretty good!”