The Last Don

Near the end of my first class yesterday, I checked the roll as I had done nearly every previous day.  As I unlocked my iPad, a CNN message populated stating that Don Cornelius was found shot dead in LA.  I said aloud, “Wooooow!  Are you serious?”  My students immediately wanted to know what was going on.  I told them that “the Soul Train guy” was found shot to death in LA.  The class seemed to get a little quieter.  I thought to myself, “Man, that’s insane.”  Some how or another, the details stated that he was found with what appeared to be a self-inflicted wound.  I immediately shook my head in disbelief.

I guess it all kind of hit home for me in a very real way, honestly.  I couldn’t help but think how easily that could’ve been me.  It’s true: You don’t have a clue what people are thinking until you are faced with the same reality.  Better still, I’ve heard it said this way: “Walk a mile in my shoes.” There is no need to get into particulars at this time, but let’s just say:  I get it.  I used to pass judgement on people who committed, attempted, or even seriously thought about suicide.  What a jerk I was.  Thank God for “sight beyond sight (in the words of Lion-o).”  It is only through my own vicissitudes that I have found compassion.  I was reading a post on someone’s page tonight and it read, “There is nothing in this world that is worth ending your life. Every situation has a resolution. Seriously.”  I could only help but wonder from what angle was this statement made?  I wanted very much to post on that person’s page, “……says the person who has never been faced with suicide.”  Come to think of it, I used to be that same guy.  I am ashamed of my own stupidity (the past), yet humbled by the growth I am experiencing these days (present-day).

As I read some of the many heart-felt condolences on a popular social site, I had my own memories of the great “Don”.  The

The sun peaking through....

capstone of Saturday morning cartoons was The Soul Train.  I can remember always trying to figure out what the heck those people had on during Soul Train.  What were they doing?  Why are they dancing like that?  What’s up with the dude in the Reagan mask?  Is he “nuts”?  It doesn’t look like the musicians are really playing.  I used to be excited, attempting to unscramble the letters on the board before my older brother could.  I could count on that show to bring some of the best R&B groups of my childhood into my living room.  The Don certainly has been a very vibrant part of my childhood, and I will cherish those memories always.

I’m currently listening to a poem-turned-song by Sara Teasdale called “There will be rest.”  It’s rather ironic that I’m listening to this song, because Ms. Teasdale didn’t see a way out of her current issues and comitted suicide in 1933.  I find the words to be so poetic:

There will be rest, and sure stars shining
Over the roof-tops crowned with snow,
A reign of rest, serene forgetting,
The music of stillness holy and low.

I will make this world of my devising
Out of a dream in my lonely mind.
I shall find the crystal of peace, – above me
Stars I shall find.

As I end this post, I am reminded that everyone needs somebody, sometime.  So, if you’re feeling down, and you can’t deal, pick up the phone.  Call someone that you trust.  Someone that loves you.  Or even fall to your knees, if need be.  I’m here because I did…..all…of….those….things.

And there will be rest for you, Brother Don.

Love.  Peace.  And Soul.



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