3/3/13: Every year the date sneaks up on me. I turn around from February and suddenly, it’s March 3rd. For the fourth year now, I wake to a world that doesn’t have my friend Nkoyen Ekpoudom in it.
In honor of her memory and to remind myself and others what an amazing light she was to so many, I’d like to repost the tribute I composed for her a couple of years ago. It was one of the first things I ever wrote on this WordPress account, which has grown up to be my blog, Drunk on Life. As a fledgling writer, I was so happy to be able to write from my heart, and convey even in such a rough and unpolished homage, just one of the many ways that my best friend and PIC – “partner in crime,” Nkoyen, filled my life with her love, support and positive energy.
But before I publish those words again, I want to share a fresher memory of her. A gift, actually, that she sent me.
One night last spring, I had a dream that I was inside my house and heard the honking of a car horn outside. I opened the front door to see my black Murano pulled up to curb, driven by my beloved grandmother, Norma Pass, who left us back in 1998. Granny didn’t say anything, but smiled and waved, pointing to the back door of the car. That door swung open and there was Nyk, yelling for me to get in.
We took off, suddenly teleported from David’s house in Westside to the flower-strewn streets of my old neighborhood, Garden Hills, scene of many late night, post-club, mostly-drunken Nyk and Kim journeys homeward, always complete with sloshing Diet Cokes, the occasional Heinekin and the ubiquitous “Death Dog,” a stomach-churning street food concoction we were fond of buying “for the road,” then traditionally dumping all over the car.
During the sequence of this dream, my grandmother never spoke a word, just kept driving up and down the familiar streets, occasionally looking over the seat and grinning happily at the two of us as we giggled and gossipped. Surely we filled each other in on all the news of the last three years, but I have no memory of what was actually said, just the joy of the saying.
Before I knew it, our time was up. They dropped me off at my door and after a quick hug, Nyk jumped back in the car and they sped off.
I woke up feeling so complete and content, still caught up in the warmth and happiness of the dream. I went downstairs to make coffee, out of habit logging on to Facebook while it brewed; my morning ritual to check in on friends and family. I stopped cold – only then realizing the date, as I noted all of the posts and messages of love and support sent to Nyk’s sister Ita, as in every year on March 3rd, the anniversary of Nkoyen’s passing.
So thanks, Nyk, so very much for that visit. It meant more than you know. I’m sure we caught up a lot that night, but I’ve got a heart full of things still to tell you. Come back soon.
Originally posted 3/3/11
Two years ago today, one of my closest friends in the world passed away.
I say “passed away” but honestly, when you think about it, it’s such a poor and insufficient phrase to describe the wrenching loss to us all, friends and family alike, that it makes me frustrated and a little angry. To say “she passed away” sounds like an action she chose to take – to get up and move away. To say she has “passed away” implies she simply left.
With all my heart, I can attest that she’s not gone from here. She’s some of the best parts of who I am.
Nkoyen’s greatest gift to me–besides her friendship–was her absolute and unwavering belief that I was capable of doing anything in the world I set my mind to. Of course, I don’t honestly think I can take all the credit on that one—it was Nyk’s gift to everyone she encountered. She seemed to always see their highest potential.
She was the first one to encourage me in anything I wanted to do. Should I open my own nightclub? “Absolutely,” she’d say. “You don’t need to wait to find the right business partners. You’re smart, you have the experience and you can do it yourself. By the way, have you written a business plan?” Or, enchanted by my visits to the Big Apple, I’d ponder moving to New York. Immediate response: “Awesome. You don’t need to wait to find the right job, but it’s gonna cost you at least six figures to live here comfortably. Go for it— let’s make sure you have a plan.” I even remember a Cosmo-soaked musing over expanding my jewelry design “hobby” into a full-time gig. “Oh, definitely. You are incredibly talented and should start your own line. I can help you find investors.” Then, the inevitable Nkoyen coup de grace: “Once you put together a business plan, I’d be delighted to go over it for you.”
Not one single time in our 11-year friendship did she ever question whether or not I could actually do something. She just said “Go ahead. You can do it. I believe in you.”
Two years ago, my closest friend in the world passed beyond my everyday life. She’s gone from my ability to call or email or make a lightning trip to New York to drink and flirt with cute boys and play and shop until we dropped. She’s moved from my ability to seek her advice and encouragement.
I’ve faced a lot of challenges over the last two years where I’ve really needed her. I’ve gone after quite a few goals. Each time, I could hear a voice saying, “Go for it, Kimmie.” With every failure, I’ve dusted myself off and tried again. With each success, my only regret is a frantic feeling that I’ve missed sharing it with someone very important. I search inside of myself desperate to figure out whom, and then I remember.
Two years ago, an embolism took her. It certainly wasn’t part of her plan.
Nyk’s no longer physically here, but she left behind an incredibly powerful gift for me: an unwavering knowledge that if someone as brave and bright and fierce as Nkoyen Edidiong Ekpoudom believed in me, I could do anything. She may have passed, but she didn’t pass from me. She left some of that bravery and light and fierceness behind and it’s inside me every day, inspiring me to reach further, try harder and achieve my dreams.
When I walk through my new condo (my very own home!), or drive my shiny new car (it starts every time I turn the key) or share my career successes with friends, my first thought is of her.
I know how proud she would be of me. She’d congratulate me and hug me and we’d go out and have drinks and toast to even greater things she was absolutely confident that I would achieve in the future.
But she’d still want to see the damn plan.
I miss you, Nyk.