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Just a Friend?


Last Friday, we lost the hip-hop icon Biz Markie. At age 57, he passed away from health challenges related to a history of type 2 diabetes. I received the news first from my wife, then my mother, and later through a Rolling Stones article.

By far, Biz’s hit, Just a Friend, is my favorite. Although the title perfectly captures the message, I didn't understand the song's lyrics when it aired in 89’. This week I listened to his music again and appreciated Biz's creative approach to storytelling and rhyming.

Probably like you, when you hear songs from your childhood, you think differently about their meanings as an adult. I was seven years old when Biz dropped, Just a Friend. It is easy to understand now that the song is about starting romantic relationships with honesty.

Through Just a Friend, Biz expressed the truth about partnerships after dating a woman who did not want a commitment. Romantic relationships only work when both partners are willing to be upfront about their intentions.

Markie’s death made me think about how I would live my life, knowing that I had less than twenty years left on earth.

Does that happen to you? When people die younger than expected, does it make you think about your death and the legacy you will leave behind?

Last weekend, I missed my father’s 70th birthday celebration in the States. A significant number of my family and friends traveled to his childhood home in Kansas to recognize this milestone. Although I sent a gift and paid other tributes, I know that it wasn’t the same without all of his children and grandchildren present.

The pandemic and immigration challenges interfered with my comfortability in traveling.

Reflecting on the decision to stay in Antigua makes me wish for a time-traveling machine like the Delorean in the Back to The Future movies. Time machines are science fiction for now, but the recent billionaire commercial flights to space make me wonder if they may be closer than we think. My decision to remain home made sense, but it would have been nice to attend my dad’s party last weekend.

Instead of returning to the US, I went to my immigration appointment and created some beautiful memories with my daughter at DiveCarib. The Department of Immigration Affairs renewed my work permit for another year, and I took my daughter to her first scuba diving lesson.

Under the seawater, we saw remnants of ship wreckage, fish, and a surplus of algae. The dope experience impacted my daughter so much that afterward, she said, “I think that one day, I want to be a marine biologist.” The next day, I found her reading about sharks!

When writing the draft for this piece, I reflected on Biz Markie’s death, his music, and my family’s decision to remain in Antigua. On the day I pass away, I don’t want my family or friends to say I was “just a friend.” Instead, I want them to remember how I loved and strived for excellence in nearly everything I did on this earth.

My goal is not to leave the illusion of a perfect man, but I want memories to last that indicate I exceeded an ordinary existence.

What would you do if you had less than twenty years left to live without work constraints, minimal chances of spreading an infectious disease, and plenty of financial resources? I would spend as much time with my family as possible while also maintaining a schedule to support writing, exercise, and travel. The chances are minimal that I would miss another family member's birthday party.

The truth of the matter is that none of us know how much time we have left. We could have twenty years, twenty days, twenty hours, twenty minutes, or twenty seconds of life remaining in our bodies. Hopefully, you have more than twenty seconds, so you can finish reading this post...

I am joking about the twenty seconds, but we must make the most of every day.

Whatever you do in life, try to be more than “just a friend" in your relationships. From the many accounts shared online about Biz's life, I understand that he was a husband, MC, beatboxer, actor, comedian, and the list continues. When your time comes to say goodbye to all that you know, what will folks say about you?

Subscribe to this blog for similar posts. RIP Biz Markie.


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