A Tribute to Haliye


Born from love

Grew in love

Breath of love

Built up love

Gave away love

Died with love

An embodiment of love left this earth today

Delicate – to touch

Unafraid – to be touched

So many hands – he touched

Removed layers covering hearts and – touched

On tattered spirits he sewed a love patch

Generous at soul

Soulful in expression

Expressive in love

Loving in nature

Nature of Zen

May Zen gardens

Be his final resting pasture

An embodiment of love left this earth today

– For Haliye, a kindred and unusual spirit. May you rest in eternal love (6/16/2015).

I find the experience of death to be an amnesiac certainty. There is no doubt that all that has life will experience death. Life embodied in a person. Life embodied in an experience; in an encounter. Each with its own cycle. Each death a reminder of the life that exists and the death that is pending.

In the death that is inherent to all forms of life, I find we also experience it with a certain sense of amnesia. A temporary amnesia you may call it. Until another form of death takes hold and we become aware once again that everything is fleeting. Including human life. And we are reminded again to be more present; to be less busy; to be more grateful. The strongest of such reminders coming in the loss of a human life.

A young man I loved, admired and adored left this earth a few weeks ago at the tender age of twenty-one. Hallelujah, affectionately known as Haliye to those who have been lucky to experience him, was the manifestation of benevolence. Having known this beautiful human since he was around five years old has truly enriched my life by way of the principles with which he existed.

Haliye was born with down syndrome – a disorder that disposed him to developmental challenges including complications of the heart. Yet for someone who has had problems with their physical heart, Haliye was without a doubt a person of heart and courage! He was an old soul born into a material body that could not contain his greatness. An inborn ability to melt even the hardest of hearts with his concern over others’ well being. Possessing an innate skill for bridging and bringing people together. And instilled with a keen sense of awareness and observation that we often lack in our “busy” existence.

Haliye, was a joy to hear, to hug, to experience. He has often baffled many of us with his deep sense of understanding into what mattered most in life. He has often brought shame to those of us who pride ourselves with “mental ability” and “normality” in his celebration of life, making one wonder was it not really those of us who have a predefined sense of “normal” who are indeed developmentally challenged.

The last memory and experience I have of Haliye is one evening sitting in his parent’s home after dinner, fumbling around with my phone and falling into the abyss of absence that technology has a tendency of drawing us into if not managed. After having observed me for a while, he starts laughing and shaking his head proclaiming “ayyyyy Bilu” and drawing me back to presence. As my eyes find his, he tells me, “beqa, selkun teyiw. Yebeteseb gize new.” Enough. Put the phone away. It’s family time now. And I put it away.

Many times thereafter, Haliye has been the melody in my subconscious reminding me to be more present and aware lest I fall in the abyss of distraction.

When his obituary was read out during his funeral, the reader referred to him as born with “mental retardation.” To me, and those who like me have been lucky to have known this gem of a gentleman, I beg to differ and say he was born with “mental progression.”  His rights based way to life; his sense of family; of love and compassion and way of experiencing delight in the little things is what many of us take skills classes to intellectually understand and apply. Haliye, was far ahead in that regard.

What often takes loss of life for us to understand, Haliye made sure he shared the fundamental lessons of life through his living and loving.

May we all have the courage to love like Haliye loved.


Billene also blogs at www.africanfeminism.com