is not related to a career. Purpose is not
related to a job.
It is related to what God put inside of you to give to
So as you've probably gathered by now, I tend to work out my
emotions via writing. Currently, I'm still working on a
story about Andrew and Co. dealing with the first couple
months of the pandemic. However, earlier this week I put
that on hold to write the following.
I've never been one to rush out to see the latest superhero
movie. In fact, I've seen an embarrassingly small number
of them. But when I saw the promos for Black Panther...
I dunno. I just knew I really, really wanted to see that
one. So the family and I headed to the theater and
watched the adventures of T'Challa and Shuri and Nakia and
Killmonger and all the rest. And I really loved
it. I loved the strong female characters. And on
my most recent viewing, I really zeroed in on how it
highlighted the impact of trauma through generations.
And, yeah, T'Challa is definitely a superhero. But he
also checked a lot of the fairy tale/mythological prince boxes
which I am, admittedly, more drawn to. And, of course, I
was going to be drawn to anything featuring a big cat-themed
lead who experiences a sort of death and resurrection. I
appreciated the wider cultural significance of the film.
I was glad that a Black superhero had his own film... and it
was HUGE. And I wanted to see what came next for
T'Challa and Wakanda.
And then Chadwick Boseman died the Friday before last.
And it just seemed really cruel to me. We were only days
out from another Black man being shot and this actor who had
done so much to further representation and to celebrate Black
history and culture was gone... seemingly so suddenly.
The King of Wakanda was dead. And the more that came out
about him... the bigger the loss to the world felt.
Nonetheless, I didn't intend to write about it. I mean
don't get me wrong... I thought about Mr. Boseman
meeting Joshua. Because that's just what I do. And
I thought about how various characters would feel because,
again, that's just what I do. And I was also trying to
find a way to sneak references into my Andrew and Co. story
because I tend to do that when I'm impacted by the loss of a
celebrity (example: "The King" contains a couple blink and you
miss it references to Robin Williams' filmography). So I
had this idea that Ivy would have gotten Sy a black cat that
he would have named T'Challa and I was gonna have the cat make
a cameo. I checked the birthdates list in order to
determine whether, in a story based in March/April 2020, it
would have been more likely for the cat to have been a
Christmas or birthday present. And then I realized that
Sy's birthday was August 29th... the day after Mr. Boseman's
passing. I had randomly chosen that date years
ago. But it seemed significant now. 365 days out
of a year and I picked that one... I felt like there was
a story there. So I wrote the following.
Some notes: I obviously did not plan on writing this because I
didn't expect to have reason to write this. With the
exception of part of the May 2020 flashback which I wrote
weeks ago in light of all the horrible deaths of unarmed Black
people, everything else was written in around a 24 hour
period. Because it takes place after the
as-yet-unfinished Andrew and Co. story, I'm going to have to
explain a few things. In short, Dyeland has mostly been
in lockdown mode due to the pandemic. Andrew is
particularly anxious given JenniAnn sustained lung damage both
from some bouts with pneumonia and having been shot. But
you will see he begins to make adjustments. At the start
of lockdown, Ivy and Sy quickly got married so they could
quarantine together without going against their shared belief
system. Also of note, Max and Rose discovered they were
expecting their second child. I think that should
explain everything that comes up. I usually don't share
stories out of order but... this was a very special
Requiem for a King
Friday, August 28th, 2020
Joshua stood on the edge of a cliff in Africa, overlooking a
verdant valley below. Before him, the sun rose, coloring
the sky with an array of yellows, oranges, reds, and
purples. Another man stood to Joshua's right, smiling at
the beauty before him.
Joshua turned to him and smiled sheepishly.
"I'm sorry," he apologized. "I know this is cheesy
but..." He raised his fists to his shoulders, making a
W. "I'm a fan. Wakanda Forever."
The man bowed his head and chuckled. When he looked up,
Joshua's arms were held aloft. Without hesitation, he
moved into Joshua's embrace.
"Let's go Home, good and faithful servant."
With Joshua's words, the two disappeared, leaving only
footprints where two kings had stood.
Saturday, August 29th, 2020
Sy awoke with a smile on his face.
It was his twenty third birthday.
He was married to a beautiful, amazing woman.
And he had reason to suspect that Ivy had something
exceptionally special planned for him. She had been giddy
and secretive of late.
Sy realized with some surprise that Ivy wasn't resting beside
him. He glanced at the clock on his bedstand.
Maybe Ivy had gotten up to make breakfast... He had
dropped a handful of hints about missing her grandma's cinnamon
Grinning, Sy made his way to the kitchen. He could hear
shuffling... and there was a sweet scent in the air.
However, when Sy stepped into the kitchen, his mood immediately
Ivy was pacing around the kitchen, stirring a bowl of
icing. Her eyes were puffy and bloodshot. Leo lay
beneath the table, looking on with concern.
Sy hurried towards his wife.
"Ivy... Ivy... what's wrong?"
Ivy set the bowl down and embraced her husband tightly.
"Oh Sy... Happy birthday, my love. I... I'm
"Is... is someone in my family sick? Your grandma?
Mark? The... the Friends?" Sy questioned.
Ivy stepped back and cradled his face. She shook her head.
"No... no. They're fine, Sy. There... there was
something in the news this morning. Or... or last night
but I didn't see until this morning because..." Ivy's face
Sy smiled. They had gone to bed early the night before...
and then not gone to sleep.
"Let's sit down," Ivy suggested.
Sy's smile faded as the dread returned. He pulled out a
chair for Ivy then settled into the one beside hers.
Ivy took both of Sy's hands in hers.
"There... there was a post made last night on Chadwick Boseman's
Twitter feed," Ivy began to explain.
"Are people going after him about his weight again? It's a
shame he felt the need to address..."
"Sy... No. He... he didn't make the post. His
family did. He... he died, Sy. He had... he had
colon cancer and..." Ivy shook her head as fresh tears
welled in her eyes. "He fought so... so hard.
Sy gawked. Then he began to shake his head.
"No... No... It's a mistake."
"So... so maybe he has cancer. And... and they wrote
something just in case. And then someone accidentally sent
"Sy... sweetheart. I... I wanted to believe it wasn't
real, too. I even tried to convince myself that I'd
forgotten who Chadwick Boseman was and... and he was just a
background player in Black Panther. Maybe one
of... of the tribal elders. I knew... I knew that wasn't
right. I knew I knew who he was. But I tried to talk
myself out of it. Because it made me so, so sad and
because... because I know what he means to you. I know
what he means to so many, many people. King
T'Challa... But... it's true. Sy, if it was a
mistake... they had hours to correct it. Hours to stop all
the tributes from pouring in. When... when you can... you
should see them. The Obamas, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, a
bunch of the Avengers..." Ivy rested her forehead against
Sy's. "I'm so, so sorry."
"But... but we need him," Sy protested.
"I... I know."
"When was he diagnosed?"
"Four years ago."
Sy looked up from his folded hands.
Ivy smiled sadly.
"He filmed Black Panther and other movies in between
surgeries and chemotherapy. He... the unbelievable
strength of that..." Ivy shook her head in amazement.
Sy removed his cell phone from his robe.
"I want to see the tweet."
Looking at his phone, Sy realized he'd missed several text
messages throughout the night. Many were birthday
wishes... but many more were school friends and buddies from the
Wilsons' neighborhood texting in dismay.
"Oh God..." Sy looked to the ceiling. "I... I can't
read these right now."
"Then don't. Take your time." Ivy held her hand
out. "Let me."
Sy nodded and handed her his phone.
Ivy opened the Twitter app and pulled up the tweet for him.
Silently, Sy read, alternating between shaking his head and
sighing in amazement.
Once he was finished, he set the phone down and held his hands
out to Ivy.
"Pray with me?"
Ivy took her husband's hands and bowed her hand.
"Dear Lord... We ask that Your healing peace and love
settle upon the Boseman family... upon his friends and his
fans. We... we thank you for the amazing gifts Chadwick
gave to so many of us... the ability to... to see ourselves
as... as kings, as superheroes. I... I hope he knows now
how many lives he touched, how many... many dreams he... he
launched. I just... Joshua... I wish... I'm glad he's at
peace now and... and I know he loves you but... I'm sorry.
I just... I wish he was still here."
Ivy wept softly as Sy collapsed against her and began to sob.
Two doors down, Andrew and JenniAnn were somberly preparing
"Do... do you think they're up now?" JenniAnn asked.
Andrew checked his pocket watch and nodded.
"To find this out on Sy's birthday. Unless... maybe they
saw the news last night?"
Andrew shook his head.
"How do you..."
"Joshua told me."
"Did... did he tell you anything else? Like... are we
supposed to do anything? What can we do?"
"He didn't..." Andrew was interrupted by his phone
ringing. He looked at it and smiled sadly. "It's
Zeke." He answered the phone and put it on speaker.
"Hey, Zeke. I'm here with JenniAnn. You're on
speaker but if..."
"No, no. Speaker is good. Andrew...
JenniAnn. Good morning."
JenniAnn briefly closed her eyes. Zeke's voice was hoarse.
"G'morning, Zeke," JenniAnn replied. "I'm guessing you
"I did. Heartbreaking. Kendra saw it on Facebook
and... I think we all went into denial for the first few
"Same," Andrew agreed.
"I keep thinking about when we took the kids to see Black
Panther. At one point, I looked over at Sy and he
was just... he looked like a little boy again.
Starry-eyed... proud. I... I have to admit that I... I'd
imagined taking my grandchildren to see the other movies.
Maybe not the second... didn't want to rush the kids. But
the third, fourth, fifth... So I could see that in their
"I've thought about all the parents who are gonna have to talk
to their kids about this... To have to tell them that
their hero... he... he died." JenniAnn shook her head.
"It's a huge loss... and we've had so many losses this year,"
At Zeke's words, Andrew's mind drifted back.
May 30th, 2020
Andrew pulled his gaze away from the TV and looked around the
Sitting beside him on one of the couches, JenniAnn stared at the
newscast, hers eyes filled. Shelby sat beside her, hugging
her arm tightly while her head rested on JenniAnn's shoulder.
On the floor, Takoda and Violeta shared an oversized bean
bag. When the latter jumped at the sound of screaming,
Takoda gently rested a hand over hers. For a moment, he
made eye contact with Andrew. He was visibly anguished.
In the corner, Marty stood in stony silence. He roused
when Max approached and rested a hand on his shoulder. The
ancient angel's reserve cracked and he began to sob in the young
On another couch, Rose looked to Marty and Max with concern and
then her gaze turned to the newlyweds seated on the couch with
Andrew's heart broke anew when he looked to Ivy and Sy.
The young man peered at the screen, leaning forward with his
elbows on his knees and his chin rested on his folded
hands. Ivy, tears streaming down her face, stroked Sy's
"Why... why do they keep killing us?" Sy bleated.
Andrew shook his head when the young man looked to him.
"I... I don't know," he stammered. "I... it's
unbelievable. It's horrible. It's... ingrained into
so much of society... Systematic racism is... evil."
Sy stood up.
"I shouldn't be here... I should be there." He waved
to the screen. "Hiding away... It... it's not right,
"Sy..." Ivy stood and embraced him.
"Joshua!" Sy exclaimed to the air. "Help me...
"Andrew. Kitchen," JenniAnn directed.
The angel of death nodded and followed her. She started
speaking as soon as they entered the room.
"Sy is right. We can't keep him here. I know you're
concerned about the virus. We should be concerned about
the virus. But this is a public health crisis, too.
And you and me... we're spared it. But Sy isn't. His
family isn't. And any children he and Ivy have... they
won't be spared, either. And... and we have a daughter who
is a person of color, Andrew! Belle... she... she may not
be spared either. And I'm so... so glad that she's
oblivious right now. But she won't always be. And
when she's old enough to hear about all of this... I don't want
to tell her that we made everyone hide away because we were
afraid I'd get sick."
"Laja..." Andrew heaved a sigh. "I agree."
JenniAnn, who had been prepared to continue, relaxed.
"I'll take whomever wants to go to Omaha tomorrow. To the
protest there. We'll all wear masks. We'll all
shower when we get back. And if things get really rough...
there's a portal only blocks away from where the protests are
"Okay... thank you." JenniAnn hugged him. "And I'll
stay here. I don't want to cause you any undue
worry. I want you to focus on the kids and why you're
there. You... you can be there for me. They just
need to be able to do something, Andrew."
"Agreed." Andrew kissed JenniAnn's hair and rested his
head on hers. "Let's go tell them."
Hand-in-hand, Andrew and JenniAnn rejoined the group in the
Sy stood and approached Andrew.
"Andrew, I'm sorry. You... you're right to protect your
Andrew rested a hand on Sy's shoulder and nodded.
"It's important to protect your family. But... we're all
family. And this... this is important. We'll take
precautions... I'm gonna have to insist on that but... tomorrow
I'm going to join the protests in the Old Market in Omaha and
anyone who wants to join me... please join me."
Sy hugged Andrew tightly.
"Thank you. I... I appreciate you letting us go. But
I appreciate even more that you'll be there." He beamed at
"I'm going, too, of course," Ivy promised.
"Me too!" Violeta chimed in.
"You can count on me," Takoda vowed.
"And me," Marty added.
"And me too," Max echoed.
Shelby looked up at JenniAnn.
"Your choice, sweetie."
Shelby stepped forward and rested a hand on Sy's arm.
"I want to go, too."
"I want to but..."
Sy shook his head.
"No... No, I appreciate that but... we need you to stay
safe. Maybe, umm, might be nice to come home to hot cocoa
and cookies?" Sy suggested with a smile.
JenniAnn returned his smile and nodded.
"I'll have em waiting."
"And I'll stay back and help JenniAnn out," Rose added.
"Although I wish..."
Sy gestured towards her belly.
"No... Best to keep you and that little one safe."
"I'll be praying for you all," she promised as JenniAnn nodded.
Ivy sighed with relief and hugged Sy.
The young man smiled at all of the friends gathered around
"Thank you. Means a lot. Truly."
Then, still heartbroken and bewildered but with a sense of peace
and possibility, the group settled back down to continue
watching the news
Saturday, August 29th, 2020
Andrew shook his head as he returned to the present. What
they hadn't known that evening was that, as they were speaking,
a young black man was being shot and killed by an Omaha business
owner. The local protests had grown more personal... but
they had gone. And then, somehow both exhausted and
energized, they had come back to Dyeland for cocoa and
cookies... and Wakanda. The angel's eyes misted as he
remembered looking over to see Sy watching intently, his eyes
glistening with pride, as King T'Challa spoke to the UN.
"I had wondered..." Zeke's voice trailed off.
"About?" JenniAnn encouraged.
"Well... since you'd agreed on letting us come today to spend it
with Sy... and since we'll all be wearing masks, anyway...
Is that old theater there still operational?"
JenniAnn smiled at the memories of Touched by an Angel
and Tour of Duty marathons.
"We haven't tried in a while but... I don't know why it wouldn't
be," JenniAnn responded. "Were you thinking Sy might like
to see Black Panther on the big screen? We have
"I really think it would be nice," Zeke affirmed. "And a
good way to honor Mr. Boseman, too. It might be a hard
watch at points but... yeah. I think Sy would like that a
"I'll go grab the DVD now and try it out," Andrew offered, glad
to have something useful to do.
"Thank you!" both JenniAnn and Zeke called.
Just as Andrew was leaving the kitchen, a flurry ball of fluff
"Oh..." JenniAnn knelt down and scooped up their latest
houseguest: a tiny black kitten.
"Everything okay?" Zeke checked.
"Yes. It's just... Sy's birthday kitten. Ivy was
going to come over and get him this morning but... do you think
I should bring him over there? She probably got distracted
Zeke was silent for a few moments.
JenniAnn's eyes welled when she heard him clear his throat.
"Yeah... Please... It... it was so good of Ivy to
remember. When we first saw the movie... Sy said that,
when he could, he was gonna get himself a black cat and name him
T'Challa. Diana and I wished we could have done that for
him but... with Kendra's allergies we just couldn't. But
Ivy remembered... and the timing turned out to be pretty
perfect. Sy could use a flurry fluffball right about
now. No offense to Leo. I suppose I should say he
could use another flurry fluffball."
"Agreed! And I don't think Leo would mind. Ivy
brought him over yesterday to visit... just to make sure they
got along... and poor Leo seemed upset when he had to leave
without T'Challa here." JenniAnn lightly bopped the
kitten's nose then turned off the oven and set some sliced fruit
in the fridge. "I'll let you go so I can go do that but
we'll see you later?"
"With masks and at six feet's worth of distance but... you bet."
"We're looking forward to it. Take care until then, Zeke!"
"You too, JenniAnn!"
Once the call had ended, JenniAnn peered into the little cat's
"Well, little king, let's go meet your daddy."
Over at Serendipity, Ivy looked on in concern as Sy picked at
his cinnamon roll.
"Love... Try to eat. Please," she pleaded.
Sy squeezed her hand.
"It's delicious, Ivy. Really it is. My stomach is
just... all in knots."
"I understand. You know... it's okay to be upset.
Even angry at God."
Sy shook his head.
"No. He was a Christian and... and he talked quite a bit
about God and I don't think he would like it if I got mad at God
because of him," he protested.
"Okay. That's a good point. But it's okay to be mad
at the situation. Even to be mad at cancer.
Something doesn't have to be a someone for you to be angry."
"Yeah..." Sy nodded. "I am mad at the situation, at
cancer, at the timing... It just... it seems so
cruel. In the midst of a pandemic... in the midst of an
epidemic of violence against Black people... while we have a
president who.. who makes excuses for cops who kill and calls
some racists 'good people'... now... now during all of that...
we lose our king. And I... I'm not crazy. I know it
wasn't real. Wakanda isn't real. But it... felt
real. T'Challa... felt real."
Ivy flung her arms around her husband.
"It doesn't sound crazy, Sy. It really, really
doesn't. I... I know I can't fully understand how you
feel. But I don't think it sounds crazy. Not at
Sy kissed her.
"Thank you. I really appreciate that."
Ivy felt a jolt in her pocket.
"Yeah." Ivy checked and her eyes went wide. "I have
to go check on something. I'll be right back.
Sy chuckled softly.
"You don't have to babysit me. I'm fine.
Really. Upset... but fine. Take your time."
"Okay." Ivy kissed his hair then left the kitchen.
While he waited for her to return, Sy took a few bites of his
cinnamon roll. It really was delicious... He drew in
and let out a few calming breaths and prayed.
Suddenly, Leo jumped out from beneath the table.
Sy looked up to find Ivy had returned... and she wasn't
"I... I hope it's still okay. I picked him up yesterday
morning. He spent last night at Willowveil. I... I
wanted to surprise you on your birthday but now..." Ivy
peered down at the kitten.
Fresh tears filled Sy's eyes but now they were ones of happiness
and gratitude. He held his arms out.
Ivy gently transferred the kitten to her husband.
"He's... mine?" Sy asked.
"So long as you want him."
Sy brought the kitten up to his face and nuzzled him.
"T'Challa..." he murmured.
The kitten purred.
Sy held him securely with one arm and wrapped the other around
"You remembered... when we saw the movie, I said..."
"Yeah... I told myself that the first birthday or
Christmas that we were married... I was getting you a black
cat. I just had no idea how the timing..."
"It's perfect timing," Sy assured. He stroked the
cat. "He's perfect."
Ivy beamed as Sy kissed her hair.
"Happy birthday, Sy."
"Thank you... And... just know that in spite of
everything... it is a happy birthday. Because I'm spending
it married to you. I love you, Ivy. So much."
"And I love you, too. So much..."
Leo began to whine and scratch at Sy's leg.
"All right... all right..."
He crouched down so the little black cat and the little black
dog could examine each other.
Leo lay down and stared at his new brother then let out a sigh.
"Aww!" Ivy cooed.
T'Challa tentatively stepped down from Sy's arms and stood next
to the dog. He walked around Leo, eying him. Then he
plopped down beside him.
Ivy snapped a photograph.
Sy beamed at her as he pet them both, prompting another photo.
"Our little lion and and our little panther..." he
For several minutes, the couple sat together, silently admiring
their little ones and feeling the sadness of the morning begin
to give way to peace.
That evening, the Roseate Theatre saw its first guests in
The Willowveil household and the Wilsons watched as the king of
Wakanda defended his people and his land... and started the
process of bringing Wakanda's peace and prosperity to the
With misty eyes, they watched King T'Challa speak to the United
Nations... and to them.
"'Wakanda will no longer watch from the shadows. We
cannot. We must not. We will work to be an example
of how we, as brothers and sisters on this earth, should treat
each other. Now, more than ever, the illusions of division
threaten our very existence. We all know the truth: more
connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the
wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We
must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one
"Wakanda forever..." Sy murmured, with tears in his eyes.
Ivy squeezed his hand.
Sy smiled at her and knew, years later, he would watch the movie
with their children... and, together, they would see who would
take up the mantle of the Black Panther.
But they would never forget the one who had brought T'Challa to
life and given so many the opportunity to see themselves in a
superhero and in a king.
This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye,
Chadwick Boseman, and all those who give us inspiration and
encouragement via their creative work.