Editor’s Note: In 2014, musician Zara Gretti died after a long battle with multiple sclerosis at the age of 28. Tosyn Bucknor was a close friend of hers and wrote her a moving tribute on NETng. Sadly Tosyn herself has passed on today. We republish her piece to reflect on her life and thoughts about death. Rest in Peace Tosyn.
When someone passes, you suddenly get philosophical. When it’s someone your age, it makes you reflect, and when it’s someone in the same industry as yours, you remember all the ways your paths crossed.
– I can’t remember when exactly I first met Zara, but I can remember I was fascinated by the fact that her name was Toyin, she had dreads and did music that was ‘different’. I thought, ‘She’s so cool’.
– I remember her energy. Zara recorded in the studio like she owned the booth. On stage, she was on fire. She knew what she liked and was ready to take her own time to get it.
– Zara and I were on each other’s BBM. We always wanted to be more of friends than we were but this industry kills friendships. If it’s not someone you knew before the job or the music, every friendship feels like ‘industry friendship’. But we always stayed in touch.
– We s.h.a.r.ed a stage for a concert once and she owned that stage. I stood there like a fan watching her perform and thinking, ‘that’s major’. Zara was going to be major and I never understood why she then went back to Yankee and seemingly went quiet.
– The news headline answered that question. ‘Zara battling multiple sclerosis’, I saw. Multiple sclerosis? Isn’t that something I hear about on Greys’ Anatomy and Doctors? Isn’t it for white people? Older white people? Wow, how can that affect someone as vibrant as Zara?
– Multiple sclerosis is a debilitating disease; your body’s immune system eats at the sheath that covers the nerves and sometimes affects the nerves itself.
– I quickly reached out to her and she was the vibrant Toyin I remembered but she confirmed it and asked that we pray for her. Pray, I could do that. And I did. I stayed in touch and read her updates. Some days Zara was like pre-ms Zara, tweeting about music and stuff. Other times she spoke about her struggle and journey. She was living her life out on social media and it broke my heart to read her struggle, but I admired how she stayed strong.
– Zara needed money for her bills and she asked. I don’t know why though, but it seemed because the plea came from her, we were not as fired up as if it had come from someone we viewed as impoverished. But people did give, some anonymously. And in all of this, Zara stayed strong.
– Until she no longer was.
Her last tweet? ‘I love and hate my life’. A perfect description of how a lot of us feel, and how she must have felt.
Of course, her passing has created the usual social media outcry. She’s on all our DPs and we’re all remembering Zara. Then there’s the ‘But what did you do for her when she was alive?’ camp. People are mourning, and people are criticising how and who is mourning.
I’m just realising that it is true: flowers are best appreciated when the recipient is alive.
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