On Sunday morning, I logged onto Facebook and received terrible news. My friend from Howard University, Shomari Marlon Small died on Friday, September 26 in his native, Jamaica. The cause of his death as of this time is still unclear, and I am waiting to hear more details, which I am sure will come to me similar to the way news of his death came to me: On social media.
Shomari and I met each other as freshmen at Howard University. Coming from California, I wasn’t exposed to too many people like Shomari, which is to say I could probably count on one hand how many true Jamaicans I met prior to arriving at HU. Shomari’s island accent was thick to the point where I chuckled the first time he spoke. I had a lot of growing up to do back then, but Shomari did too because when he heard me speak, he laughed and said, “Yo, where are you from? Why do you talk like that?” I had never been to Jamaica, he had never set foot in California, and both of us were living in D.C., away from our families and all that was familiar for the first time.
Seeing as we were equally alien to not only our surroundings but to each other, we hit it off immediately. Some days, we ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner together. He hipped me to beef patties, I put him up on sushi and raw seaweed my mom would send me in care packages. In those very early days at Howard we became more brothers than friends.
By the beginning of the second semester, Shomari and I still acknowledged one another as close friends, but the dynamic between us wasn’t like the first semester. We grew apart, not in spirit, but socially. By now we adjusted to life at Howard, made more friends who we would be seen with more often, developed other interests that kept us busy. He was a business major, I was a communications major, this meant often times a whole week could by before we ran into each other, since most of our classes were taking place on different parts of campus. Our relationship with one another continued on that path right up until he transferred out of Howard in 2003. We never had a chance to say goodbye to one another.