This is not a eulogy.
Turner Cooper was many things: a brother, a son, a scholar, a friend. To me, Turner Cooper was more than that. Turner James, as I love to call him, was my confidant. The epitome of Black Boy Joy, he taught me how to be more than a man; Turner James taught me that to be loved unconditionally, you must give love unconditionally.
Let me begin with Turner, the brother:
Fifteen months separate Turner James and myself. As an adopted child, I always wanted to learn more about my biological side. In 2008, when I was 18, I finally got the chance. Through Facebook, I was able to connect with and talk to Turner for the first time. Someone I always knew about, the seeds of my admiration were planted when we had our first phone conversation, just days after our messenger exchange:
“Hello, little brother. Welcome to the family”
That was it. No hesitation. No questions.
He continued to ask me about myself, allowing me to talk freely; never once interrupting, a quality I first thought strange, than realized it’s how he gauged the person. What was your talking pattern? Which facts did you linger on and which did you allow to pass without much care? He would then ask you a question that would make you want to engage further. This was the first of many lessons Turner taught me.
Turner, the friend, was a sight to behold.
He would do anything to lift your spirits. A song would be playing, because music ALWAYS had to be on, and he would grab your hand and make you get up and move. And if you knew the words, sing as long, loud and true as you possible could - as long as it was in the key of you, it didn’t matter to him.
To his friends, he was is joy
Turner, the scholar, is who he was to his core. Once you got to know Turner, the REAL Turner James Cooper, you never saw a person with such a burning desire to learn and teach. Always the inquisitor, Turner would listen to, then question, your thoughts on a particular topic. Never challenging, rather always from a place of learning through your point of view.
Turner Cooper, the son, was his entire spirit. There isn’t a better duo than Turner and his Sunny. An inseparable pair, Turner would do anything possible to ensure Sunny was always safe and protected. Often, when talking with Turner, conversation would find it’s way to Sunny, which always led to a smile - and those that know him, know that smile - then his whole demeanor would change. His highs and lows were Sunny’s, and vice versa. Their energies matched and they ignited something for each other that is difficult to explain, but only made sense when you saw it. And if you were fortunate enough to listen to them speak to each other, you know that it always had these elements: there was always a song sung, a dance danced, and always ended with “I love you”.
This is not a eulogy to my brother, Turner James. This is a promise to him:
I promise to be the brother you were. To allow for our siblings to speak freely about anything: what makes them happiest, what they may be struggling with, and everything in between. No hesitations. No questions. Just respond in love and continued support.
I promise to be the friend you were. To allow the right ones into my life and to hold them as close as possible. To bring joy and vibrancy; to dance and sing.
I promise to be the scholar you were. To continue to ask questions and never challenge, but to learn, grow, and expand my mind.
I promise to be the son you were. To continue to be firm ground for Sunny. I’ll continue to match vibrations and always laugh, sing and dance with each other but allow space for you two to continue yours. And I promise to always end each and every conversation with my parents with “I love you”.
My last moment with Turner is one I will hold forever. While feeling stuck and unsure about what would happen, I was sitting across from your hospital bed. You were facing me, eyes half open, and for the last time I felt you looking at me. Not just looking at, but I felt you seeing me, as you always did. We held that gaze for a moment, and I believe that was you telling me everything will be okay. Then “Everything You Touch Is Gold” by Gregory Porter came on. Sunny moved from the couch and grabbed your hand. While she sang to your, your arm moved, only slightly. To me, you were dancing with Sunny, as you always did, to a song you both loved with your whole hearts. And as you did, your spirit lifted and you continued to dance, all the way up to the heavens, where you’re continuing to dance with all of our ancestors.
Everything you touch(ed) did indeed turn into gold, Turner James. And because you touched us, we promise to do the same.
Love and light,
Your little brother
Title: Everything You Touch Is Gold
Artist: Gregory Porter
Year Released: 2020