It’s been a little over two years now since I began writing drafts for what would become a book of memoirs chronicling my life before and after my mother’s untimely death. The skeleton and content of “Days After Your Departure” (DAYD) has thus evolved simultaneously with my growth as an individual. As with any long-term, creative endeavor there has been a constant fluctuation of trials and triumphs. However, the emotional magnitude of this project has been taking its toll on me. 

The first day after my mother’s death was the genesis of my battle with depression. I have had difficulty maintaining my joy as a living, breathing human being from that point up until now. An unrelenting emptiness has seemingly become a loyal occupant within the interior of my heart. And it’s not that I consciously, always miss my mother but her absence along with the anxieties that come with adulthood has seemingly knocked the wind out of, what used to be my optimistic disposition. In these circumstances, writing is more of a chore than a cathartic practice. The latter sentiment is why I began writing in the first place in my youth.

Nonetheless, on the days where I can find the courage to confront my keyboard and write a story about a new discovery of self or a happy memory of my mother, it is met with apprehension. Despite how much I try to channel my energy toward positive thoughts, I face the risk of encountering sadness along the way. What used to be a fascination---possibly an obsession---with nostalgia is beginning to manifest itself as a distaste for anything that does not relate to the present. I don’t want to carry my mother on my back anymore. She’s been gone for three years and counting. So, forasmuch as I remind myself that this work may be able to provide some solace to other individuals who are caregivers, family members, friends or whoever, I am learning that it is no easy undertaking.

Aside from the emotional aspects embedded in this project, it is important to note that DAYD is a collaborative effort. I have teamed up with Rog Walker, who serves as the photographer responsible for adding texture to my compilation of written work. Rog, too, has his obligations as a creative while caring for several facets of his family life. As you can imagine, attempts to synchronize our schedules with the intention to document such delicate content has been quite the challenge. Therefore the work has faced its share of setbacks.

All in all, I am striving to complete my book. I have tremendous support from my loving wife, my dear friends, and the VSCO Artist Initiative team, who continue to cheer me on as I write my story for me and for those who’ll read it. My mother taught me to live with a heart filled with goodness and charity. To pass that on to others through my creativity is a beautiful struggle; one that I’m battling every single day.

- Joekenneth

Credits: Asiyami Gold, Assistant photographer

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