The Truth about Christmas Eve



E 122nd St New York, NY 10035

Neighborhood: East Harlem

Two weeks before Christmas, my Aunt Cooklyn and I were decorating. We decorated the Christmas tree, put lights on the windows; we also decorated the apartment door. It was snowing; the exact date was December 8, 2001. “Hurry up, you’re as slow as a half dead chicken, give me the tape.” said Aunt Cooklyn. I said, “OK, but can you please stop yelling at me?” “Whatever, just give me the goddamn tape.” “SHIT, we ran out of decorations,” said Cooklyn.

“Awe man, I’ I’ll go to the store to get some more,” I said. “OK, here is three dollars, get the decorations, and buy yourself something,” said Cooklyn. “OK ’I’ll be right back,” I said.

And that’s exactly how we were. My aunt was one of the coolest people that once lived on earth. I remember one time I asked her for a piece of candy, although my grandmother told me that I couldn’t have any, Aunt Cooklyn still gave me the candy. I loved her for that. Two days later, after we decorated the Christmas tree, my aunt was rushed to the hospital. My family and I didn’t think any thing of it, because this was becoming a normal routine. Whenever Cooklyn got real sick, we called the ambulance, and she was rushed to the hospital. But this time when she was rushed to the hospital we were in for the shock of our lives, because this time she wasn’t coming home with us, (her family) she was going to heaven. As hard as it is to admit, she is in a much better place. Aunt Cooklyn had contracted H.I.V ten years ago, which later turned into A.I.D.S.

The first time my family and I had discovered that Cooklyn was sick was when she was laying on the couch, she was crying that her stomach was hurting. She went to the doctor’s office, and the doctor had told her that she had been infected with H.I.V for ten years. When Cooklyn returned from the doctor, she was living with her mother at the time, (which is my grandmother), and she told my grandmother the news she had gathered. At this point, everyone that was living inside of the household began to act funny toward Cooklyn. Inside my grandmother’s household lived my cousin Tyreka (20 years old), her son Tysheem (3yrs old), my grandmother and aunt Cooklyn. My grandmother (Dama) began treating Cooklyn different, because she did not know anything about the disease. Tyreka treated Cooklyn different, because she was young, uneducated, and very cruel. Tyreka did not want her son Tysheem around Cooklyn; she was scared that he might contract the disease. Tyreka did not want to use the bathroom behind Cooklyn, because she feared catching the disease in any way. As Cooklyn realized the treatment she was receiving from her family, she began to express the way she felt toward them. Things had gotten a little better when Tyreka moved out and got her own apartment. This left Aunt Cooklyn and Dama alone together. My cousin Kejo moved in to assist Dama with Cooklyn.

Cooklyn was becoming very sick as time went on. The family could do nothing but prey. One more thing, Cooklyn has a child, Nudy. He is incarcerated, and someone in the family had to break the news to Nudy, telling him that his mother was dying. Finally Dama wrote Nudy a letter informing him of his mother’s health. Meanwhile Nudy did not think that his mother’s health was as serious as it was.

On exactly December 24, 2001 at around 12:00 a.m, Cooklyn was rushed to the hospital; about 12 hours later at 12:53 p.m., Cooklyn was pronounced dead. At the hospital it smelt like death and I was scared. No more Cooklyn, just memories are all I have of my wonderful aunt.

R.I.P. Aunt Cooklyn, Christmas Eve (December 24, 2001)


This essay was written as a part of a HREF=”” TARGET=”_new”> workshop.

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