Life, Death, Trauma, and Rebirth-My “Nook” in Life

By Mya Medley

My relationship with death started with Nook Nook, my family’s beloved goldfish, when I was five years old, but that was only the start. Since 2016 I have been experiencing trauma. My overprotective brother Kionta Murphy was killed in August of 2016.   My world had been taken away from me and I wanted to know why.  A birth brought it back.

 A 5-year olds first brush with death

It started with Nook Nook.  It was a cloudy, cold Saturday morning when my mom came home to see that her fat, little goldfish, Nook Nook, was not in the fishbowl. Of course I didn’t know what happened to the fish. However, everybody in the house blamed me.

My older siblings would often get away with breaking mom and dad’s house rules, then blaming everything on me. So today was no different.
“Ouuu Mya, you killed Nook Nook!!” yelled my ten year old brother, Kionta.

“Momma gone get youuuuuuuuu!” laughed my eleven year old sister, Mickey.

I could hear the crispy, peppered bacon popping in the pan.  I could see and taste the fluffy and sweet smelling pancakes being cooked by my sister, Mickey as she continued to blame me. Even my dad emerged from his room claiming that I picked up Nook Nook out of the fish bowl, threw him in the toilet and flushed him.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t even think about eating breakfast because I was afraid of my mom coming home to see her Nook Nook gone. As a five year old, I was so terrified that I couldn’t concentrate on anything else. So many disappointing thoughts:  No TV… no going outside… can’t go nowhere, is she going to spank me? I was in trouble for something out of my control and I wouldn’t be able to hang out with Kionta.

Losing Kionta     

I remember everything that happened. On the 26th I woke up at 7:00am to get ready for school. Normally my big brother Kionta would take me to school, but that day he didn’t. I just knew something was wrong. I got home from school at around 4:30pm and noticed that Kionta was not there.

He would sometimes go out on a run or just get some air. So I wasn’t too concerned until I heard the gunshots.

Pow, Pow, Pow, Pow!!

My frustrated heart immediately started pumping rapidly. My confused body begin to tremble. I just knew it had to be Kionta.

When my mom came in my room I instantly knew it had to be him. I cried and I cried for the whole night. My sore throat was aching due to me screaming all night. I wanted this all to be a dream. My world had been taken away from me and I wanted to know why. Why me?

I didn’t deserve this; Kionta didn’t deserve this. I felt as if I lost myself. Hurting, painful flashbacks of disappointment made me feel disgusted. I could taste desolate tears falling from my eyes as I cried myself to sleep every night after Kionta’s perplexing death, yet I heard him whispering, “Keep going, Mya! It’s not your time.”

Still, I felt powerless. While my heart became heavy like lead, he urged me, “Don’t trip off me. I’ll be good just keep doing you and stay focused. I Love You.”

 Finding Laylah and refinding myself

Death is usually considered a horrible situation. However, this bitter death played an unforgettable part in making me the person I am today. Even though I was angry, aggravated, and furious about my brother’s passing, I didn’t have time to be resentful because my first cousin gave birth to Laylah, a beautiful, chocolate, seven pound newborn baby girl.

I immediately became overjoyed. Disappointing tears of sorrow turned to glowing tears of joy. God took my brother and replaced him with my flawless, new cousin Laylah. She’s the reason I didn’t break down. Because of Laylah, I remained strong for my family, especially my mom.

Relieved, I began expressing my heartfelt emotions in song.

Hello, it’s been so long since you left. This is love calling.

I put all my pain and misery into this song. It exhausted all my fury. From that moment on, I began taking care of Laylah. I became her surrogate mom. Alone in my room, I eventually got through the shaky stages of grieving.

All of this made me the person I am today, and it all started with Nook Nook’s death. Nook Nook, Kionta, and Laylah shaped me into the person I will forever be – a strong, open-minded, loving, and blossoming young woman.


From the Author-My Name is Mya and I’m an 11th grader at Lighthouse Community Charter School. I’m talented, determined and strong. Right now I’m determined to graduate high school and study science. My dream is to go to college in Atlanta so I can explore the world beyond the West Coast. I would love to be a forensic science technician so I can discover more of the human body, solve cases, and get justice for families that have suffered like mine.

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