Today is April 25th. A very special day for me, indeed. It’s not only the 25th day of NaPoWriMo, but also the 28th birthday of my very dear best friend, Marlene Santiago. I never do well with this part. With honoring her. I’m too selfish, I suppose. Too full of my own self and emotions. I feel like I can never get it right. Nonetheless, I’ll do my best.

Marlene Santiago was born on April 25, 1987. She passed away on May 5, 2002 at the tender age of 15. She had leukemia, a blood cancer that most significantly impacts young people. She left the world way too soon, in many ways. Yet, she left right on time. 

Till this very day, I will say loud and clear that Marlene was the most beautiful person I’ve ever been blessed to know. Her heart was pure. Anyone who ever met her, let alone was blessed to call her a friend, would say the same. She blessed everyone she came in contact with. With that simple, yet powerful, signature smile. 

Now don’t get me wrong here. I know how often people love to glorify people who weren’t good people, just because they’re passed on. I’ve never been one for that. I’m not big on cursing the dead, so to speak. At the same time, I am committed in all ways to honor truth. In life and in death. In such, if I don’t got nothing good to say, I don’t make stuff up. I just do like my momma taught me, and keep my mouth closed.

That’s not necessary with Marlene. Her memory and spirit speak for themselves. The issue is, so few people got to know her. So very few. Thus, my biggest struggle with honoring her blessed memory is not so much about what to say, or how honest to be, but rather, not getting too caught up on what never was. What never will be. 

I get stuck between telling stories about us singing the group, Next’s, beautiful ballad “Wifey,” in her grandmother’s living room and crying because I miss her so much. I get stuck between attempting to relay the melodic essence her snarky laugh, and hurting bad because no one else can hear it anymore.

Ugh. I always get stuck. I’m stuck right now. Between celebrating her birth into this world, and my inherent ability to cross her blessed path, and the fact that no one else will. How can I not be sad about what she lost out on? Then I recall the life she’d lived by the time she passed. Marlene had a rough one.

Most people will never know the things she went through. The stories and sadness she shared with me, over those long nights of sleepovers. And who I am to speak for her? In particular, if it in turn, is against those who hurt her? Those who were closest to her? It is such a weary and difficult gray area to be in. I suppose, that’s why I’ve avoided it for 13 years. Among other reasons.

So, here I am. Another birthday is under our belt. And the silence is tearing my soul apart. I must speak up. For her. For us. For the blessed plan of God.

Marlene didn’t lose out when God brought her home 13 years ago. Not one bit. She was rescued from a life of sadness and hurt. She was uplifted from a realm of evil and filth. She was and still is, better off. The world on the other hand. The world lost a gem. One of the most blessed gems. But, such is life, I suppose.

I don’t know what else to say right now. Too much, perhaps. So, I’ll just end here. I broke the silence today. And that’s the first step. Here’s my 25th poem for the 25th day of NaPoWriMo, dedicated to my blessed spirit and best friend, Marlene. Till forever and day, girly poo! Forever and a day! BFF’s!! 

When Words Are Not Enough

Will silence do the trick

Can it end the hurt and halt the pain

No words seem to come close 

To fixing what’s broken the chain

Thought my silence would make it better

Probably heal the charred remains

Figured for once, I’d just be quiet

Maintain a more subtle life plain

Just remember in my mind and heart

Until of course, something changed

Until I recalled the power of my words

That moment, when nothing was the same

I must do more. Speak less.

When words are not enough

Silence cannot give way to freedom

When words are not enough

Action must lead the way

Just like the love in my heart

BFF’s! For forever and a day!