Friday, March 20, 2020


I really don't know what to say.

I didn't think I'd ever be writing this. But here I am.

On Tuesday, March 17th, I lost my cousin Tara. She won her battle with cancer. For as hard as it was to type that line...I typed it. I've been trying to type that for the past few days and I just couldn't. It's hard for me to think of her in the past tense because she's always been here. She was here before I got here. So, I've never known a world without her. Until now.

Tara is my cousin. My dad and her mom (my late Aunt Brenda) were siblings. We're cousins...only by name. She's like the big sister that I never had. We would have celebrated her 50th birthday this coming September. It still seems unreal that she's not here. For the past few days, I've contemplated writing a post on Facebook or posting a series of tweets about her. Honestly, i couldn't find the words. I'm not sure if I have the words now. So forgive me if I ramble.

Tara was born and raised in Newark, NJ. She was the 3rd child of my aunt's 5 children (Tammi, Tonya, Tara, Robert, and Timbi). She was a loving spirit. She was smart, witty, and funny. She LOVED to laugh. I think she loved to laugh more than anything. I can't ever recall us talking and not laughing really hard about something. She would tell you that she "had a quick tongue..." but she got that from my Aunt and our grandmother. She was a beautiful lady. She was strong with her faith and her belief in God. She was tough and street-smart. She grew up in she had to be. Tara always had strong drive and level of determination. We were always close as kids. Although we'd see each other a few times a year because I lived in South Carolina and she lived in New Jersey, we always picked up where we left off when we would see each other. She lost her father...and then Aunt Brenda...while she was a young adult. But she still finished high school and came to Atlanta to attend Clark Atlanta University. I had moved to Atlanta so we connected here as young adults. Tara graduated and moved back to Newark for work. But our connection remained strong. When she was here we'd hang out together and laugh. Tara would also teach me so much about our family and the history of our family. She could go back about 5 generations of our family and could tell you about each branch of our family tree. I'm not sure how she knew all of this but she did. She would always say "Our last name is Dowling. That means something!" She told me she would always tell people her last name because...according to Tara... "you never know who you may know, or who you may be related to." She loved her family. And she loved being a Dowling. I remember before we had Deion she told me "You gotta have a boy so you can keep our name going." And then she'd laugh really loud. She meant it. But she always found something or someone to laugh at. And she always made me laugh. That was Tara!

Over the past 10 years, we'd become even closer than before. I remember times when I'd call her and we would just talk. By the time we got off the phone, a few hours would have passed. She was always asking about the kids, Sherice, or my friends. I was always amazed that if I mentioned a friend from college or one of my boys that I grew up with...she'd always ask about them. Her memory was impeccable. She never forgot anyone's birthday. She was so special.

For the better part of the past 10 years, she battled cancer. I don't think she ever mentioned the word cancer to me. She just said she was doing chemo. She made it sound effortless. She had beaten it before. But then it came back 2 years ago. She told me she didn't feel light fighting because the last fight took so much out of her. But we both knew that was a lie. She's a fighter. And always has been. She fought it. Because she fought it so well the first time, I figured she'd do it again. That's just how much I believed in Tara. When we talked, we never talked about cancer. I knew it was there but it never came up. Our conversations were always about something that made us laugh, family, or the future. Just a year ago, she told me that she was looking to adopt a child. This wasn't a surprise to me because Tara LOVES kids. While she didn't have any kids of her own, she loved every child like they were hers. She was a teacher and she really loved the little people. There was no doubt in my mind that she would be a great mother. She was a great aunt and a great role model to her nieces and nephew as well as her cousins. One of the things that I'll miss most about her is that she was always there for EVERYBODY! She found a way to do it all. I don't know how she did it but she did. One of my lasting memories of her was the time that we spent together after our grandmother passed away in 2017. After Grandma's funeral, we went to the home of our cousin, Kori. The whole family sat around and talked. In the middle of the room...was Tara. She had a HUGE photo album that she was passing around and explaining who each person was in every photo. She made sure that she let my kids know who their cousins were and where they came from. She was extremely proud of her family. She loved us. And we loved her.

I knew something was wrong a few months ago. I called her one day when I was leaving work and she didn't answer. She called me back the next day and said she couldn't talk to me the previous day because her mouth was sore. She said the chemo had her mouth very sore. I had never heard her say this. We talked like we always did and I moved on. The next few times we spoke, she told me about the struggles she was having with the chemo. She never complained. She'd talk about it then move on to another topic. In my mind, I think I knew she wasn't getting better. I was trying to tell myself otherwise. I mean...this is Tara! She's going to beat this. Then, a month ago I called her and she didn't answer. I sent her a text...

"Hey cuz! I called you earlier. I was going to leave a message but your voicemail is full. I didn't want anything. Just checking in on you."

I knew it. My heart didn't want to believe it but I knew she wasn't doing well. She didn't respond to my text. She would talk to my Dad a few days later by phone. He told me "Tara said she's going to call you. She said she got your text. She's just going through a lot right now, son. Pray for her. Keep her in your prayers."

I did.

We would always send pictures of ourselves or with the family. It was our way of showing each other how much we were growing and what our family looked like. She always marveled at how my kids were growing. I remember looking at some pictures of her as a child and I noticed how much my daughter, Skyler, looks like her. After praying for her, I sent some recent pictures of me and the family to her. I sent them knowing that she wasn't going to send me any pictures back.

Three weeks ago, my Dad called me and then asked me to call my brother, Damon. I called him. I knew when he asked me to call Damon that he wanted to talk to both of us about Tara. He explained that the doctors had said they had done all that they could do. The chemo that she was taking was slowing the cancer from spreading but it had destroyed her kidneys in the process. They didn't give her much time to live. Just hearing the news crushed me. I cried and I was hurt. How could I live without Tara? This wasn't how it was supposed to go. We'd lost Grandma in 2017. Then in 2019, her nephew (Tonya's son) was senselessly murdered in Newark. Now, we're about to lose Tara? This can't be. I wanted to call her but I knew I'd have to be prepared for everything once I made that call. I held out hope that she could get better but I knew it wasn't going to happen.

I got a message from Timbi on Monday. She said the doctor said that Tara had less than a week to live. I called Damon and told him. Then we called Tara together. I wasn't nervous. I knew what I was going to say. She was awake and alert. It sounded like she greeted our voices with her signature smile. We both thanked her for all that she had done for us. I said a joke and she chuckled. We chatted for a few minutes. Before we got off the phone she said..."I'll see you on the other side." We ended the we ended every call we've ever had with..."I love you." I hung up the phone and cried even more. I knew I wouldn't ever speak to her again. But I'm thankful for that final phone call. I called my Dad and told him to call her as well. And he did.

The next day...Tuesday...March 17th....I got a phone call from my cousin, Marc. It was in the afternoon. I just let the phone ring and didn't answer it. About 5 minutes later, my Dad called. I didn't answer it either. I let the phone ring. Then I noticed that my Dad had left a message. I knew why he called and I knew what the message was. I didn't need to hear it. I knew she was gone. I finished my work for the day and waited a few hours before I listened to the message.

My beloved cousin is gone. And it hurts. I'm not one to talk about a lot of private stuff publicly. But I had to write this. I haven't been ok these past few days. I've buried myself in my work and podcasts to ease the pain. It's been tough. My heart aches for our family...especially Tammi, Tonya, Robert, and Timbi. They've lost their sibling. Tara was the glue to our family. She meant so much to so many people. I'm crushed. I scrolled through our text messages and I cried. And then I laughed. I laughed because I could hear her voice in each message. She was truly a special person. When I think about all of our laughs, I can't help but laugh. I know Tara wouldn't want me to be sad. She would tell me "You've always got to keep moving forward." And that's what I plan to do. While I'm selfishly sadden by us losing her, I'm thankful that we had her and I know she's in heaven...laughing at all of us and telling jokes.

"You know we are always gonna look out for each other. We are DOWLING's and that's what we do."

You're right, cuz. I'll see you on the other side. I love you, Tara

Tara Dowling

September 30, 1970 - March 17, 2020

Monday, March 2, 2020

off tha dome...

random thoughts...

I know it's been a minute. I've been busy lazy (lol)

we're in the 3rd month of the year and some of y'all are back on the SAME BS that you were on in 2019. what happened to "New Year, New Me" ?

have you ever noticed that people will fly past you in traffic...only to be ahead of you by one car when you get to the next stop light. why are you in such a rush?

impeached? smh. I think we'll have to explain to our great grandkids one day how this fool actually got into office

is there a bigger rabbit hole than YouTube?

I told you I'd bring it back, Tee. Thanks for always reading, fam. I saw a picture of you and "little" Tee...and he ain't little no more! LMAO

Instagram might be a close 2nd when it comes to being a rabbit hole.

i'm FINALLY starting to get into the all of these series on Netflix. I've had Netflix for years...I just don't watch it a lot.

speaking of kids getting bigger, Kameron is bigger than me now. That's cool. As long he knows that he can't beat ME...we're cool

congrats to the Chiefs for winning the Super Bowl. it was good to see Pat Mahomes win it all. honestly, I was glad to see anybody but Tom Brady win it.

Rest in Peace - Kobe Bryant. This still feels unreal to me. I talked about it here ( It's crazy. He died doing something that all of us do...something that he loved doing...being a Dad

remember back in the day when you would put a battery in the freezer to "give it an extended life" ?

I've gotta say...i'm feeling this show on OWN called "Cherish the Day". Lovin it!

why do people panic when there is no wifi or they don't have a signal while in a place?

Bad Boys 3...pretty damn good! I wasn't sure how it was gonna be but I liked it a lot

remember the kids who were the teacher's pet when you were in school? I hope you weren't that kid

I spend less and less time on Facebook and twitter.

in January, I did a fast for a week. All I ate was nuts and vegetables and I drank water. I didn't know if I could do it...but I did. It was relatively easy. I learned that bacon and chicken ain't as important as I thought it was

I don't know how serious the coronavirus is. But i'm smart enough to pay attention and do my own research

I hate shopping

biggie will be inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. While it's a great honor, I can think of at least TEN people that I could make a case that should go in before him.

don't get it twisted...Biggie is my dude. But nahhhhh man. I guess since 2Pac is in...I guess they had to put him in, too.

there's no better sports show than Inside the NBA on TNT. Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley, and Shaq crack me up

I finally got around to seeing the Homecoming documentary by Beyoncé. I'm not a fan of her nor her music. But I came away from that with a HUGE level of love and respect for her. I was impressed with her drive and dedication

we don't have time to waste. time waits for no man

I just hit 200 episodes of The 12Kyle Podcast yesterday. i'm proud of that. and I want to thank you for listening and supporting me. there are 5 billion podcasts that you can listen to. i'm glad that you enjoy mine. and if you've never heard can start today. lol

is there anything harder to do than to fold a fitted sheet?

my kids still refer to Run (from Run DMC) as "the dude from the tv show Run's House". they have NO clue who he REALLY is. lol

this Houston Astros cheating scandal ain't going away

my right shoulder is feeling better. I don't think I tore anything. But I still need to get it checked out

celebrate black history all year long

we got the news last week that ESPN was cancelling High Noon (with Bomani Jones and Pablo Torre) on March 27th. The crazy thing is that the news came the same day that Pablo and his wife welcomed their first child (a girl) into the world. I watched this show daily and i'm a huge fan. I'm happy for Pablo because this is a blessing. I've been rocking with Bomani for years. I know they will both land on their feet. As one article in the Washington Post suggested, High Noon was "the smartest show on ESPN." And if ESPN is cancelling a show because we are too smart...that says a lot about them