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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Death of a co-worker: A letter to my friend

I know it’s been a while since we last saw each other. Yet, you have remained in my thoughts since leaving work. I think of you especially when I buy a cup of coffee. I remember when I would come to work with all my bundles and bags of teacher materials, and of course, coffee. You would give me this grumpy look and say, “So you can buy coffee for yourself and not for me? Okay Dara, I see ya!” At first I thought you were serious and I endlessly apologized to you. “Okay, tomorrow I will buy you a cup of coffee. How do you like it?”

You never actually told me how you like your coffee. All you would say is, “It is okay Dara, I’m just messing with you.” We’d laugh and then I ask about your day. Although it was early evening, it always seemed like your day had just started. Maybe that’s because you had to stay until closing. Maybe because you were the director of the after school programs, or it was an excuse to pick on me about not buying you coffee.

There were some days you weren’t in a joking mood. “What’s wrong?” I would ask you. I could always tell when you were aggravated or really upset. When you were aggravated, you would just yell, “I don’t know Dara!” and mumble some words I didn’t understand. When you were really upset, you would say “Fuck this shit!” It's those days I was most concerned about you. You would sit at your desk, quietly, staring at the computer. You wouldn’t even turn around to say hello. When my class ended and I’d say good night, some nights you’d say the same or wouldn’t say anything at all. One night, I patted you on your shoulder and said, “It’s going to be alright. Trust me.” That’s when you turned around and smirked at me, “Really?” I smiled back, “Yes. Whatever that’s bothering you will pass. Now who do I need to kick for ya?” You laughed and said, “Everybody!”

Do you remember how we met? I was a new teacher at this new location, your location. I was about to walk up the stairs to my classroom when you stopped me half way. “Where are you going?” You looked annoyed and I instantly felt intimidated. “I have a class on the second floor. I’m supposed to be starting a class tonight.” You seemed uninterested and looked at me as if my response wasn’t good enough. I smiled and said, “My name is Dara Fulton. I am an ESL teacher and I’m starting a level 1 class tonight. I work at the Manhattan office but was sent here to teach.” There was an awkward silence for a while until you said, “Okay. Do you know what room you’re in?” As I said yes, you started to walk pass me. I quickly asked, “Oh, what is your name?” You glanced back at me with an abrupt answer, “Brian.”

From that moment on, I liked you. I don’t know why. You weren’t that friendly. You were abrupt majority of the time. At times you questioned my ability to navigate my way around the school; it was a big school. And sometimes you would ignore me when I greet you. I think the ice breaker was that evening when you asked me about coffee. The next time the coffee discussion came up was the last Spring I saw you. I was sitting on the steps in front of the school. I arrived an hour early before class. It was a nice day, the sun was out and it was breezy. I liked sitting on the steps and watch people walk by. I also enjoyed seeing my students arrive to school. You came outside. I had my head down reading a book and listening to music on my iPod. 

“Oh so I guess you can’t say hello to nobody!” I looked back and there you were smiling at me.” I said, "Oh please! Like you always say hello to me!” We laughed as you started to light your cigarette. I added, “And I honestly didn’t see you standing there!” You puffed on your cigarette and said, “Yeah right Dara! Of course you didn’t!” You asked me how I was, and next minute I knew it was time for me to head inside. It seemed like in that short amount of time we talked about each other’s day, our frustrations, concerns, happy moments, and pretty much anything that came to mind. You smiled more that day. Despite your usual frustrations, you seemed calm. You didn’t curse much. When I jokingly offered to kick someone for you, you said, “Nah…it is okay Dara. I appreciate the offer.” I felt happy.

On my last day of class and as an employee at our agency, you stood in the lobby watching my students hug me and say, “We will miss you teacher.” I saw you watching, but couldn’t look at you. A couple of my students offered to walk me to the train station. As they were walking outside I told them to give me a few minutes. I turned back. The security gentleman gave me a hug and I wished him well. As I turned to you, you said, “Don’t Dara.” I smiled at you while holding back tears. “I want to thank you for being you. Thank you for always looking out for me and for believing in me. I appreciate you more than you know, and I will truly miss you.” I don’t remember what you said immediately after that. I just remember hugging you and you saying, “You will be missed.” I said my goodbyes and before I walked out the door, you yelled out, “And don’t be a stranger Dara.” I smiled at you and said, “I promise, I won’t.”

That was the last time I saw you.

A colleague and friend of mine who used to work with you, called me the other day. I haven’t spoken to her in a long time. In fact, I haven’t spoken to anyone from our agency. Although I never spoke to you about all that was going on in 2012, I think deep down inside you already knew. As we were talking, she told me you had passed away. For a moment I thought I went deaf, because I didn’t want to believe you were gone. She said you died in 2015 around the spring time. I had no idea you were not well. I told her I was sorry to hear of your passing, but it didn’t hit me until now. It’s like God told me you were really gone, and I had to accept that.

I owe you an apology Brian. I didn’t keep my promise. I stayed away for my own reasons. It had nothing to do with you. I should have kept in contact with you, stopped by the school to say hello. I should have brought you that cup of coffee. I feel guilty for not bringing you that cup of coffee. That is my biggest regret and I hope you will forgive me.

As I write this letter, I am holding back tears. It’s just like the day when I last saw you. I’m not ready to say goodbye, but instead say I’ll see you later. That’s how I like to remember you. I want to know that I will see you again and hear you say, “What’s up Dara?” as you light your cigarette and vent about life. Most of all, I want to remember your smile. That I will always cherish. I’ll see you later my friend.

Rest in peace Brian.

Friday, January 6, 2017

I’m Back!!!!

Hello friends of the Creative Corner! I know it’s been a long time since I wrote on here. 2016 was an interesting yet reflective year. Happy New Year 2017. I am grateful to be here and be back to writing. I missed it. It’s something about typing words on a blank page that satisfies me. Blogging is cool and I enjoy it. When I get to share reflective moments in my life, inspiration, or poems, I feel empowered knowing people are reading my words, my inner thoughts, getting to know who Dara is. I thank you for being here.

Did you know that as of December 2016, Dara’s Creative Corner blog made 6 years? Wow. Here’s to another 6 years!

So what’s been going on with me? Hmm…how can I say this in a few sentences? I am working hard towards my dreams and goals which includes getting my book published. I am still creating. My design, “Squiggly lines, dots, and whatever else” is now copyrighted (YAY) and I have an artist blog on Tumblr ( I am still unemployed (Boo!!!) but now focusing on other ventures. Shh…it’s a secret for now. I am single…again. I broke up with my ex-boyfriend days after my 35th birthday. It’s sad and still have love for him… sigh, that’s life. I tried the dating scene. That’s a story in itself! Oh and I recently discovered 3 gray hairs on my head. Stress perhaps or a sign that I’m getting older? Whatever it is, I learned a lot about myself, I learned a lot about love in 2016. Now that it’s over, what lies ahead for me in 2017?

Creative me aka DaraSunbubbles

My outdated video camcorder and makeshift "studio" :)
One of the ways I deal with life’s many ups and downs is by being creative. I like to call myself a collective, because I like to do many things and I have many interests. I love to write, I love to teach ESL (English as a Second Language), and love to create (crafting, drawing, photography). My art is me. I call it DaraSunbubbles Art. Another interest I’ve always had is talking and helping people. Since I’m always told “You talk too much,” I thought why not make a career out of it…well, somewhat. I revamped my YouTube channel during the Christmas holiday. I posted 5 videos varying from getting to know me, why I decided to return to YouTube, cooking, and inspirational messages. I welcome you to check out my channel, Dara K. Fulton. It’s similar to this blog except you get to watch my big head talk, ha ha!
My latest videos including how to stay confident when you don’t feel like it:

Goals for the Creative Corner and YouTube channel

The goal for both this blog and my YouTube channel is to share and offer inspiration to people. I truly believe in the power of inspiration, because it helps build confidence, self-esteem, and gives one hope. Life can be hard at times, and it’s a good feeling to know that you are not alone. Oftentimes, I feel alone especially when I get depressed. When that happens, it can make one (me) isolate self from people which can make the situation worse. It’s no secret that I’ve had my share of ups and downs, and I expressed them here. When I started this blog in 2010, it was right after I lost my job, my boyfriend, and found out I needed hip surgery. I lost friends in the process, became depressed, and dealt with emotions I didn’t think existed. I channeled all my energy into this blog as an escape to find solace within myself. Over time, the more I shared the more people were touched by what I was saying. Maybe I was giving them something and didn’t know it. I may never know. What I do know is, I truly enjoy sharing inspirational and reflective moments with you. It’s sharing a part of me that I don’t get to do in person (or shy away from). I find it easier to share these elements with you here. It gives me peace.

I welcome you to join me on this creative journey. I’m confident that you will gain something from it whether it’s on camera or on this blog. I welcome comments or a simple hello (my contacts are in the “Get to know me” bio). I look forward to a great 2017. I believe this will be the year that DREAMS WILL BECOME A REALITY. Believe in it. Strive for it. Keep going.

Always stand tall.