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Goodbye, Good Friend


There I lay in bed, discussing the journey of Harry Potter with my wife. Not exactly the pillow talk other couples may have, but we've recently been watching (for her, re-watching) all of the Harry Potter films in May. It's just a little something to create excitement, to keep spirits high, and of course, something to look forward to in what can be mundane quarantine times.

I laid there on my back, talking to my wife, while ultimately staring at the glowing screen in my two hands hovering above me in the pitch-black room. In the midst of looking for what I thought would be a cool Harry Potter T-Shirt, the message box appeared on my screen and issued the following notice:
Hi Dev...Quincy passed this afternoon.
I stared at the message in utter disbelief. What? I don't understand. Is this true? How?

I had literally JUST face-timed with him three days ago. And here I was, lying in a bed, and receiving a text message from his mother after midnight that he was no longer here on earth with us.

Just like that, I lost one of my best friends. Or as Quincy would always say, my Good Friend.

---

High School was a tough time for me. I didn't overly enjoy it. Parts of it was due to my own insecurities and awkwardness, and others were due to my environment. My high school at the time was home to the second most reported incidents (Crime, misbehavior, expulsion, etc...) in Brooklyn, and top fifteen in the state.

For the most part, I kept to myself, with the usual small circle of friends. Really, it was limited to those I knew I could trust - you know, those who weren't connected to gangs or trouble, and if not for the negative, admittedly, who weren't going to force me out of my bubble. I wasn't into (or overly ready) for partying, drinking, and everything else that existed in the social scene in High School.  I later opened up to that a bit in college. But in High School, I was even simpler than I am now - I went to school. I went home. I played a ton of pickup basketball and football in my neighborhood. I watched sports. I read a lot. Studied even more. And that was it.

In a nutshell, I was a nerd. And being a grade ahead, always made things even weirder for me in terms of my development and making friends within my programmed classes. At 14, having classes and befriending 15, 16, and 17 yeard olds who were mostly my classmates always made things quite odd. After all, in high school, the differences in those ages were vastly different.

And then, there was the day I met Quincy during the beginning of my Junior year. Walking down the hall, he popped around (really out of nowhere, something we always joked about for years afterward) and in his now usual manner, hit me on my shoulder, rocking my gumby-like tall frame and said, "what's up, brother?". Startled (and confused), I responded, "Yo, what's good?". I knew of Quincy, but this was certainly odd.

Suddenly, in the coming days and weeks, he made his way to sit with the usuals I sat with during 6th-period lunch. We all had our crew, right? At first, the group thought he was awkward, coming from an awkward group themselves. But that first encounter he made with me left us highly suspicious. Suddenly, he was imposing on our group? After a couple of days, we were banging beats on the lunchroom table making up rhymes that were nonsense and that made us laugh. This was among many other organic conversations that made lunch entertaining. He suddenly was in. Commissioned, initiated, and welcomed - he was just as weird as us.

Our "at-school" friendship quickly evolved into similar likes, interests, goals, and just like that, the weird encounter became a true friendship. Quincy became Q. Ripped straight from your favorite coming-of-age script, we even dove into the party scene around high school together. The Brooklyn summers bringing us even closer together, and the school year giving us another kindred-soul to help us survive the madness and embrace the awkwardness.
We've been friends brothers for nineteen years. The years just flew by. 
He was a big part of my decision to not go to college at seventeen years of age, and stay for a "senior" year of High School."Brother, you'll have a short day every day with AP Classes, time to work, and you can figure out the college-thing for real. And yes...prom, son!" Yeah, prom. He never forgot, senior prom. Ever.

Before I realized it, high school became college, and college became just life - us sharing the brunt of what this world had to dish us - him being there when my wife and I were getting married, his role in helping me while my dad went through dementia (during those five years, he was so key in helping me); and vice versa, in me being there for him following a massive car accident, and of course, the countless advice I had regarding his music career, and his favorite topic, women.

And those were just a few examples.

The years rolled on before I even had a chance to pinpoint exactly when, Q, became, brother.

---

Photo: Quincy working on what would have been his second album

Over the past week, since receiving that text, not a day has gone by that I haven't thought about him. Like my dad, there are too many things around my apartment or triggers already ingrained in me, that makes me think of him. He hung out in our apartment so many times, so frequently, that it's difficult not to remember, not to reminisce. We've been friends brothers for nineteen years. The years just flew by.

There is a picture of him, my dad, and myself from when we rebuilt my parent's deck in 2016 that hangs among a group of photos behind our sofa in the living room. The picture, the only one captured over the course of that entire summer of being together, now sits as a reminder of two great losses for me recently, but also, of two of the most respected people in my life.

It was a fun summer - one which reaped so many moments of laughter, countless advice from my father (probably his final months of having 70%+ mental capacity), and so many summer nights of just grilling and listening to music under the city-summer sunsets.

That was one of my favorite things to do with Q. Just being able to sit, with a favorite beverage (his, usually a Powerade - he never drank) and just listening and appreciating music. The beats. The fine instruments in the background. The lyrics. The production. And yes, the countless "who was better?" arguments that were had. All genres. Everything was discussed.

I hearken back to all of our late night conversations playing Uno on the stoop or on the back deck at my parents, and later, in my apartment through the years. Music. Girls. Sports. Girls. Cars. Girls. Life goals. Girls. Art. Girls. You get the drift. Quincy loved his women. And we all knew about his infamous list of what he was looking for in his "forever girl". It's a shame that we never got to see the payoff - who Mrs. Right would have ended up being.

But I also imagine it's poetic. Because it very much is. But not as poetic as his love for music, and his lifelong pursuit to produce music. Since those days of making beats on the lunchroom table and beatboxing in high school, he has always talked about putting out an album. Now, many people say that, but Quincy went to school for music, worked in music, and wanted to drop a real album - the right way. Or as he put it, "this isn't a hobby for me, brother, this is my life."

For years we all would rip on Quincy (in a playful manner) for the constant delays in his album dropping or in its completion. But deep down inside, we knew it was because he was a perfectionist. And every time he thought it was set for release, Quincy would learn something NEW about music production through a new mentor, a new life experience, or through sheer inspiration, thus, he would need to change it all. He cared THAT much about the first one.

He had songs already lined up for an eventual second album. But the first one, well, that was "THE FIRST, BROTHER! It's make-or-break!"

In January (2020), it happened (finally!). D.I.S.T.A.N.T. the album dropped (under his stage name of Q-Tiago). As of our last conversation (the one from Sunday), he was sending me tracks to listen to regarding his next album. The attachments and files have yet to be reviewed. I haven't brought my self to listen to them - or the album since that midnight text came in.

The crazier, most-poetic part? D.I.S.T.A.N.T. was doing very well through streams, and his manager and mentor had already told him to begin thinking about the next one.

I (of course) recommend giving it a listen - available on all streaming platforms now. My personal favorite? Track 1 - "Wake Up".

---

I'm going to miss my friend. It's been a long road of togetherness, dreaming, supporting, and looking forward in this race called life. It makes me sad that we'll never get to hear what else he had cooking up in his home studio. And it makes me sad my son won't get to know Uncle Quincy for the person he was, or even, play with his possible kids in the future. Quincy would have been an amazing father.

What complicates things is making sense of his death. There isn't much closure in how a person can suddenly collapse and pass away. At such a young age. But again, it's all so poetic. So incredibly - and tragically - poetic.

But what keeps me strong and going are the countless - so many! - memories and stories that will forever make me laugh out loud, bring joy to my heart, and most importantly, keep his spirit alive and with me as long as I live.

---

I miss you, good friend. I really, really, do. I miss your foolishness. I miss the way you have a beatbox remix for every awaken moment in life. I miss hearing about your crazy dates and relationships. I miss the way you referred to everyone as "my brother" and "my sister". I miss your generosity and kindness. I miss your sharp suits and formal wear that was your everyday normalcy. I miss the anticipation of seeing your-yet again, newest ride. I miss your obsession with Chinese food apple sticks. I miss your constant requests to pause or "bring that back" whenever you found an attractive woman on the television. I miss you being one of the few people on this planet who have literally left me in tears from laughing too hard. I miss your spirit. And so much more...

I can't wait for you to welcome me out of nowhere in Heaven with a heavy slap to the body and then ask for my opinion on the new beats and tracks you've been working on.

Until then, Rest in Peace, Brother.

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