Golden Birthday

Deep sadness normally hits me on random days. Everyone’s experiences in loss are intimately and intricately different, but I found the “big” dates at the beginning really hard… birthdays and death dates. But for the first few years you’re mourning all the time anyways so another day of laying in bed and crying doesn’t feel much different. It’s been four years now – four long years without Zafer or my dad. Zafer would’ve been 24 today.

I work in Pittsboro, at The Plant. A beverage district that was once a biodiesel plant. A place Z grew up. I often look around and imagine him here. I pretend I can hear his laugh ringing through these cement buildings. I’ll pretend to see him walking by the glass doors. And lately I’ve been thinking about what hairstyle he’d have…

I try to imagine his role here – and sometimes I feel like I fill it in a small way. Because the truth is that I wouldn’t be here if he was still breathing. I wouldn’t be in the position, job, or place if he didn’t die. Seems a bit fucked up because I’m so grateful to his death. He personally catapulted me into such beautiful mindsets and work environments where I’m cherished and valued every single day – like come on, my job sent me to therapy…

I work with Tami, his mom. She’s my boss at the nonprofit I work for – Abundance NC. A nonprofit that encompasses many of the lessons I learned through his passing. Scale it down, shop small, cut out that grocery store as much as possible, buy from your farmers, nourish and create a beautiful, resilient community.

I work with Lyle, his dad. He’s the owner of Fair Game, a distillery. I’m one of the bartenders. A B-Corp dedicated to treating their employees right and going above and beyond in local craft. It’s a beverage company that celebrates North Carolina agriculture through spirits, beer, wine, and pantry products. A true North Carolina Southern Seasons… except way better. I remember right before Zafer died he explained the shift his family was making to a beverage district. Seeing it expand has been a blessing within itself. I know Zafer would’ve thought it was pretty fucking cool.
I work with Arlo, his brother. Sometimes I work under him for Hempsmith, the clothing company Zafer founded when we were in highschool. Sometimes I work alongside him at Fair Game. But all the time I work beside him and find Zafer in his smile and verbiage. I feel Zafer the most when Arlo is singing and jamming on his guitar.
Zafer is everywhere yet nowhere all at once. The pains of the human experience. We are limitless and made of stardust but live inside fragile, death-bound bodies.
Today I woke up at 6 a.m. after a bit of restlessness. I read a little bit of Emergent Strategies by Adrienne Maree Brown. She was talking about fractals…never ending, infinitely complex patterns that are self-similar across different scales. The same patterns found in a cauliflower are found in space, our veins, in everything. Magic. It doesn’t exactly fit to a T, but I’ve been thinking of Zafer and his impact in a fractal sense today. His patterns. Our individual patterns and fractals that match the massive ones. Makes me smile a bit to think about how ignorant we all are – we truly know so little about what’s going on here. But if you’re quiet and observant, small truths reveal themselves.
After a good cry in the car on the way to our Monday morning staff meeting, I felt hugged by a feeling of gratefulness. Thinking about Zafer’s role in my life makes me feel whole and purposeful. He was born and taken out of this world to touch and destroy every person that loved him. And it’s continuously the best and worst thing that’s ever happened to me. A god damn Purple Issue. Happy birthday, Z.

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