I was born January 1st, 1997 in a Hilton Hotel in New York.
My family isn’t really into hospitals and needles and the drugs so they hired a midwife and gave birth to me in a hotel.
My sister was born about 15 months later.
We were brought up a little quirky, embracing the dead and the things that happen karmically. We were a happy little family with a ton of animals (who we like to think of as family as well).
We were brought up with tons of music.
It was always on. It always filled the air and made the people around sing along.
We all liked it that way. It set a vibe and slowly infected our minds. In a good way, of course.
Most of my memories from my first few years of my life are blurred. Mostly because you aren’t supposed to remember that far back.
The farthest back I can remember is riding a horse with my parents and sister in Mexico. And trust me, this isn’t just bull. That memory affected me more than I’ll ever know.
I can still hear the horse hooves connecting with the sand on the beach… The little sound they made.
Other memories consist of my parents in the studio of our small apartment, recording and mixing.
Rena and I used to sing and tell them how much we liked the song.
And then they would start another one and record some more.
Sometimes the songs were bouncy, flirty, and sexy.
Others were sad… longing for something that didn’t exist.
And usually, Rena and I would bawl at the sad ones. We’d run into the bathroom and cry our eyes out until the song finished.
I liked crying, though. Not because I was a sad kid. More so because I could feel the song.
I liked knowing that songs could have that impact on such a small child.
My sister and I wanted to be just like our parents. We wanted to sing and dance all around a big stage in front of millions of people.
We liked thinking of our parents as famous musicians and would usually brag to our friends about how good they were.
I doubt their music was meant for five to seven year olds.
I never thought about being a drummer. No. I wanted to be a singer.
Boys are drummers and girls are singers. That’s what life was to me.
In 2004, we moved. I was seven years old.
I had just become a vegetarian because I loved animals so much.
Hank, our dog and my little brother, was still just a baby.
He was about a year old.
Then there was our all-powerful cat, Aldinach (ald-e-nock).
At the time, we had Magdeline (the cat diva), a few birds, mice, and about 48 to 50 snails.
We had a ton of roommates that rented a room from us.
We had a lot of fun in that house.
After a little while, our dad brought home a present for us.
His name- Drakus.
At the time it was Drafus but we changed it because Drakus seemed to fit the small dog.
We were surprised to have found out that daddy was bringing home a dog. Mostly because Hank was a totally different story.
We were in the mall for whatever reason when we passed the pet store.
That’s probably my favorite place in any mall. It’s been that way since I was a baby.
So we went inside with no intention of buying an animal.
Maybe a mouse or two but nothing bigger.
That all changed when my mom saw the blue and brown eyed puppy jumping around like a maniac.
A perfect fit.
Well, the employees gave us a small room that allowed us to actually check out the dog and play with it.
When I entered the small space, it smelled… really bad.
But looking past that, he would fit right in with us.
Except for the fact that we already had billions of animals at home.
So we begged dad for the two color eyed dog.
We cried and cried until he gave in.
We rushed inside and bought the dog.
My mom looked at the puppy and said,” His name’s Hank. Like Charles Bukowski.”
And we accepted the pup with his little kennel cough.
So we were really happy when we got Drakus.
A rescue dog.
He was abused by the owner he had before he got adopted by a friend who couldn’t take care of him because her dog didn’t get along with Drakus. So long story short, she gave him to us.
After moving from that house, we went to live in a quirky green house in Hollywood.
My parents decided that they wanted to buy a house a little after that.
So Rena and I went to go live with our grandparents while my parents went househunting.
Rena and I came back after a month (more or less).
I was estatic about the house we bought.
Four bedrooms, 2 1/2 bath, garage, living room, den, kitchen, and a pool.
Roommates came and went.
Animals were here and there.
Music was everywhere.
We had parties and went to school and continued our weird traditions.
We went to the Swat Meet a lot where we bought numerous things including bunnies.
I named mine Geisha. She lived a little while before dying in her sleep.
My daddy promised me that we’d get a cat at a shelter.
Well, we went to a little get together where they gave away cats and kittens who couldn’t be taken care of anymore. Most came in a pair but we knew that while one was pushing the limit, two was unquestionable.
They wouldn’t let us buy one at Petco and after searching for about an hour my mom said,” If they don’t let us get a cat here, Ni, we aren’t getting one.”
Lucky for me, that’s where I found my cat. She was the runt of the group. She came right up to the glass window and meowed like the little kitty she was. I told the woman that I wanted the orange-black-brown kitty and she opened the glass and handed the cat to me.
That was the first time I ever held a cat. Our cat at home wasn’t all that friendly and the cat we had before that, didn’t like to be bothered.
I looked down at her and my mom asked,” What do you wanna call her?”
And I answered,” Midnight.”
It didn’t end there. We added on to the family with a small kitten named Skimper.
He was a rescue cat like most of our animals.
Rena claimed him with open arms and an open heart. He was a little risk taker, usually annoying the other cats. Hank liked him just like he accepted all the other animals.
Time went by and we all lived our lives.
On a hectic day, Skimper got out. I remember the last time I saw him in the house running around like the nut he was.
We searched for the black and white cat. We called for him and hoped he would come back.
Months past but hope didn’t expire. I started to get worried that he wouldn’t be coming back. I got scared that he was gone forever.
We never gave up really. To this day, I look for Skimper. But we got a new cat named Jupiter.
Jupiter was also a rescue cat. He was a normal sized cat with a good personality and a funny character.
Rena instantly fell in love with the charming black cat.
Like all the other animals, we gave him a quirky personality and his own voice.
He was the “Dirty Gangster” of our household.
As time went on, Jupiter got bigger and bigger until he got to about 15 pounds or more…
And we joked that instead of taking himself for a walk, he would take his belly for a walk.
Rena loved him and protected him like a mother should.
Jupe and Mid didn’t like each other all that much so they kept their distance.
Aldinach didn’t like any of them so he chilled out in the backyard.
Hank loved him and scared him and did whatever a herder dog was supposed to do.
Jupiter got fatter and fatter to the point where he had to bounce around the house. Just kidding.
Anyway, the day was coming to an end and dad just got home from work.
He was on his phone when we greeted him and he handed us a box.
The box was (if I remember correctly) blue, white, and red.
Something you’d see at any Fed Ex or UPS.
The box wasn’t heavy but it wasn’t light either.
There were two hand holes in the box and as I held it up to my face, I saw a small and needy claw appear.
I got excited because the kitten was an exact replica of our long lost Skimper.
Dad got off the phone and gave us a big smile.
"Did you find Skimper?" We asked.
"No. This isn’t Skimper," he answered," But he’s from the same family."
Rena and I exchanged a glance.
"What do you wanna call it, Dad?" I asked.
"You name it."
I looked at Rena again.
"How about Fleck?" she questioned in her rare innocent voice.
"What is a fleck?"
"It’s a character from my book."
And the miniature kitten had a name… Fleck.
It was summer already and we had planned to move closer to our school.
House hunting wasn’t all that exciting… Actually, it was quite difficult.
It took about a month for us to find a house big enough, close enough, with certain qualities (a garage, 2 or 3 rooms, 2+ bathrooms, and a backyard).
We narrowed our search down to 2 homes.
The small house across the street from school or the big house 9 minutes away.
I was happy with either.
We ended up going along with the bigger house 9 minutes away.
I felt at home the first day we fell asleep in the half-made beds in the box-filled house.
This was to be our home.
We were complete.
At least I felt that way with my parents, sister, baby brother (Hank, our 7 year old dog), my three other brothers (Drakus, our 8 year old dog, Fleck, our month or two old kitten, and Aldinach, our 8 year old cat), my baby girl (Midnight, two years old), and my sister’s baby (Jupiter, a 5 year old rescue cat), and our wise old turtle (Sashet).
A big family, nonetheless.
I felt safe here unlike our old house where I felt haunted.
There were probably reasons for that though.
I’m not scared of death. I’m sure that deep down inside, I fear it but not in any place my mind can reach. I think I started believing that death was going to happen to everyone eventually when my favorite TA in elementary school died of an overdose.
The doctor gave her the wrong meds and the drugs killed her.
Thinking back, I remember being told that she had passed away and being shocked but not devastated.
Never devastated. I was okay with death, learning to accept it.
No. I wasn’t a screwed up kid. I had just come to terms with nature’s course a little early.
The death of animals was more damaging than a human for some reason.
I believe that I felt that way because animals are the perfect humans.
No right or wrong. No judgements. No ridicule for being who you are. That’s why it was so hard for me to let go of an animal. i was letting go of something that accepted me. Something that I could talk to without being told what to do or how to do it.
Many deaths occurred at our first house we owned in California.
Before we bought the house, a man died of old age in the house.
My most beloved mouse died in that house and I buried her reluctantly, losing another accepting soul.
Many of our loved animals died there.
And finally, our grandfather, who my mother adored, passed.
The day was Halloween. And a few days before he went into his very deep sleep, he told us what he was going to be for our favorite holiday.
I saved two for last. My two rabbits passed away in that house from diseases that came from the cage they were sold from.
But what came from their deaths was not just heartbreak and pain.
It was one of the best things that ever happened.
Maybe that’s why I felt so haunted at the old house.
Too much death. Too much pain and and tears and sleepless nights.
Safe. Yep. That’s what I felt at our new home.
A month of unpacking before the most dreadful day came to be.
The day we left the gate open and Hank got out.
We were bringing in the groceries and I felt everything moving so fast.
A blur. The sun was beating down on us and we were all going in and out.
Finally, all the groceries were on the kitchen floor and my mom froze.
"Where’s Hank?" she whimpered.
"Hank," Rena and I called.
"He’s usually tripping us when we unpack the food."
Pain raced through my mind.
He’s gotta be here, I thought.
We looked frantically around the house.
Hank. The one word we kept repeating.
We all raced out of the house and went looking down different streets.
My mom finally pulled the car up and we rolled down the windows calling for our missing dog.
Up and down the streets for more than an hour calling for him.
I felt sick to my stomach.
He’s gonna come back, I assured myself. He did last time and he will now.
We had to get back home because it was the day when everything was happening and nothing could be rescheduled.
Even as we left the house for the second time to go to a meeting, we called for Hank.
Even when we were far from home on the highway miles from where he could be, we called for him.
He’s gonna come back, he has to come back.
Hank was a smart dog and he knew our smell.
Any excuse I could pull to reassure myself that he was alright, I would. I needed him to be okay. I hated my baby brother being alone.
I hated not knowing.
I needed him to be next to us.
Days past and we still called for him wherever we went nonstop.
A Cherri Bomb show was coming up so we had to rehearse like crazy.
It was the wrong week for so much to be going on.
And the show came up.
It a small venue and nothing was going right.
We finally got off stage and left.
My mom rushed past us in tears, running to her car as fast as she could.
My impulse was to run after her but we were held back by our temporary guardian.
"Just wait here, guys," she said to us as Rena was about to bolt after our momma.
Our mom drove the car up in tears and yelled at us to get in.
Chaos broke out with many faces asking her if she needed someone to drive and help but she refused.
My dad ran to get some cash for her because we were out of gas.
He came back, handed my mom the cash, and we were off.
The sick feeling erupted.
I asked her if she was okay even though I knew I didn’t want to hear what she was about to say.
"You guys, I just got a call-"
here come the tears.
"-Hank was hit by a car."
A part of me died.
"I don’t know what he’s going to look like. I don’t know if there’s gonna be a lot of of blood. I don’t know if you guys should see him right away. He’s going to be in a lot of pain."
We pulled up to a gas station and she hopped out of the car.
"He’s gonna be okay though? He’s Hank. He has to be okay," I mumbled through tears.
"He might not be alive by the time we get there."
Water flooded out of me.
Everyone hopped back in the car and we rushed from street to street trying to find the hospital they brought him to.
We finally reached the hospital they were keeping him at and we waited in the room they were going to bring him to.
At first, it was just Mom, Rena, and me.
But Dad showed up a little later and waited with us.
I sat there crying, looking for any type of hope there was. Something to make me believe he was going to be okay.
Reassurance didn’t come to me until the doctor said he could be
helped but he would have to have his back legs held up by some type of cart.
I looked at my parents for approval. I wanted my brother alive.
The doctor gave us a few minutes to think about it.
"If we keep him alive, he’s going to be miserable," my mom said.
"I know," Dad answered.
But I knew what they were going to say.
It pained us all.
"If we put him to rest now, he’ll go to Heaven and be happy."
I nodded again.
"I think we should put him down," Mom said.
None of the words came out fluidly.
I could tell it was killing her. It was killing all of us. I saw the tears in my dad’s eyes.
As she said it, I threw my head down, wanting to rip my hair out.
It was something I used to do when I was upset.
She rushed over and comforted me.
"I know. I know," she repeated.
My head finally came up and I saw that Rena was crying almost as badly as I was.
"He wouldn’t be happy if we kept him alive," I agreed," He wouldn’t be able to chase Scrawldinach around."
We all nodded and our decision was made.
The most painful decision.
They brought him in and I didn’t even recognize the playful, beautiful brown and blue eyed dog I’d grown up with.
I didn’t believe the dog I was seeing was the same one I was looking for.
The doctor gave us time alone with Hank.
"Say I love you, Hank," Mom said.
"I love you, Hank. Come on. Say it, boy."
He gave three high-pitched noises.
We kissed the dog and made him say I love you a few more times.
The doctors came back in and I started crying again.
He let us know what happened before the dog finally passed on.
I didn’t know if I could handle seeing my brother die.
I was going to throw up.
We all held onto Hank and sang to him as he started to drift away.
Every morning you greet me
Small and white,
clean and bright
You look happy to meet me.
Blossom of snow
may you bloom and grow,
Bloom and grow forever.
Bless my homeland forever.
On the last note, his eyes dimmed and everything about him released.
The day one of the biggest parts of my life died.
I kissed him goodbye.
We took some of his hair, his collar, and a paw-print.
As we were walking out of the hospital with tears in our eyes and pain in our hearts I told my parents,” He tried to say I love you. He really tried to say it.”
And my mom answered,” He didn’t try, he said it.”
After that, life seemed like a drag. I didn’t feel like I should smile or laugh and not doing so made it ten times worse.
I couldn’t talk about it because no one would understand except for my family who were right there.
I didn’t like bringing it up around them though because it was still a tender subject.
Everything reminded me of my little brother.
And I had to hold back tears whenever I thought of him.
I didn’t want to worry anyone.
Then we went on tour the second week of school with The Smashing Pumpkins. How amazing it was to feel good again but I missed my family and friends.
But something extraordinary happened.
Our last show with The Smashing Pumpkins it was. We got to the venue early and I was looking around, I saw it.
Pictures of celebrities were posted on the walls.
The first one to catch my eye? It was Hank Williams.
And what was next to it? Another Hank.
And you know what’s funny?
It was one of our best public shows we’d ever played.
I love you, Hank.
I hope your scaring the crap out of all those cats your chasing in Heaven, baby.
You’ve always been such a good boy.
Going back home was still hard. An uncomfortable van and ten other people.
But I shouldn’t complain. It could have been worse.
We could have been going Flinestone style.
We got home a few days later.
It felt good to be back at home.
Mostly because it was the weekend and I could take a day or two to chill.
Going back to school was exciting, too.
I was greeted by friends and others that I missed.
And life went back to normal… kind of.
The band was getting geared up. Halloween was coming soon.
Maybe that doesn’t seem like such a big deal.
No, but that was going to be the day we were going to present to the suits.
I was going as The Mad Hatter (big surprise).
The whole band including my parents, were going to be a character from Alice in Wonderland.
The day it came was good.
The show flowed and we got to sleep afterwords.
Sure, we couldn’t afford all the costumes but that didn’t mean the fun had to stop.
My mom and dad had taken Rena and me to some Halloween festivals each week before Halloween that allowed us to celebrate a little early.
We had a blast together like we always do.
When the show ended, we had to go home and sleep because the next day…
we had to go to school.
Not so easy playing, packing up, mingling, and then going to bed after 11:00.
But we still went to school the next day even though for most of the classes, I needed to tape my eyes open.
This was the sacrifice I made.
I should’ve known to be grateful for sleep when I had it.
when you love something, it doesn’t matter how much time, how many sleepless nights, or how much pain goes into it. because if you’re willing, you’re bound to make something out of it.
That’s just the way life goes…
Nia Lovelis is not here right now,
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