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Frozen: A teenager finds his smile

Centerville High School student, Myles Markham
Basim Blunt
Centerville High School student, Myles Markham.

I always felt that grief is a funny emotion. It's one of the biggest negative emotions a person can feel. You can look at someone and see they're happy and you can look at someone and see they're sad. But even when someone is truly grieving, you can't really look at them and see their grief. For me, it's a feeling of nothingness. It's so weird to not feel anything when you're such an expressive person.

I'm Myles Markham. I'm 17 years old. I go to Central High School.

I would describe my younger self as a happy kid. I had a really good life growing up. I'm the oldest of my siblings and for four years it was just me, my mom and my dad. My parents had me and my sister when they were 21 and 25 years old. For a year or two, it was just us four and our dog and cat. We weren't the wealthiest, but my sister and I were happy.

When I was about 6 years old, my parents got divorced. They weren't together anymore. Me and my sister were only six and two, so too young to really know what divorce was. Perhaps on different from others when I say it never fazed me. Maybe deep down I knew I couldn't change it. My mom said the family's pretty small, but my dad's side is huge. There's my uncle Alex. He was like 13 when I was born, and he's pretty much the cool uncle. My aunt Hallie, who was like 12 when I was born, and she was the mean aunt because she saw me as the annoying little kid that I was. And on my grandparents there was Meemaw, who's pretty much the G.O.A.T.. And she's one of the grandmas that gets everyone together to have Christmas at her house.

I remember one Christmas in particular: Christmas of 2016. What I remember about that day was that my dad was sick, and that was stressing me out. Holidays were one of the only times I got to see my dad and we spent forever at my house getting me and my sister ready to go, to be more bumpers to see our family. And now, looking back on it, all I remember is that he was sick. That was the last time I ever saw him...

On January 1, 2017 I was 11 years old and my sister was 7. I remember we were both in the bathroom getting ready to go somewhere and it was winter break. My mom comes to us with this look that I can only describe as the look you get when someone dies. We started rattling off our grandparents and great grandparents, assuming they were the ones that died. Grammy. Mimi. Papa. Grandma. Janet. Nana. That's what is sad about having parents so young is that there's so many older people in your life to assume that had died, but all eight were still alive. She took us back to my room to tell us. I don't know why she told us in my room. Probably to spare us from finding out in the bathroom and maybe my room because I was the oldest. When she told us it was my dad that had died, my mom and my sister immediately started crying. Not me, though. I was frozen. I couldn't cry. I couldn't talk. I couldn't feel.

My dad didn't have a traditional funeral, and I'm so thankful he didn't cause I hate those. I once went to an open casket funeral, and it was awful. The skin always looks waxy and weird, and I don't want to remember them like that. My dad had a memorial by Minneapolis Church. I don't remember much of it, just glimpses. My dad's best friend from high school, Uncle Justin, he spoke. I remember my sister and how sad she was, my grandparents crying, everyone telling me how sorry they were and all the flowers online.

Winter break ended and I had to go back to school and no one knew. I struggled with my grades. I was bullied and I had maybe four friends. Middle school sucked. I never told anyone my dad was dead for nearly a year. There are still times when I hurt. We still celebrate my dad's birthday, and it sucks that he's not at Easter or Christmas and it sucks that he doesn't get to see me or my sister's performances. And it sucks how much I know that that hurts her.

There was a point sometime last year where I thought to myself and I realized that I was happy. I don't know when the change happened, but over the years, after all the healing, I was better. I felt happy in a way I had since elementary school, a way I hadn't felt since my dad was alive. I'm not the frozen kid that I was. Now I can cry. And when I think of my dad, I can smile.

It does get better.

For Dayton Youth Radio at Centerville High School. This is Myles Markham.

Basim has worked in the media for over twenty years, as an A&R rep with Capitol Records and as a morning drive show producer. He is a filmmaker, media arts adjunct, and also a digital editing teacher in the Dayton Metro area. In 2012 he joined WYSO as a Community Voices Producer, and his work has earned him a “New Voices” Scholar award by (AIR) Association of Independents in Radio. Basim has produced the award-winning documentary Boogie Nights: A History of Funk Music in Dayton. He also served as Project Manager for ReInvention Stories, a multimedia docu-series produced by Oscar-winning filmmakers Steve Bognar and Julia Reichert. In 2020, Blunt received a PMJA (Public Media Journalists Association) award for his WYSO series Dayton Youth Radio, for which he is the founding producer and instructor. Basim spins an eclectic mix of funk, soul, and classic R&B every Thursday night from 8 p.m to 10 p.m., as host of the 91.3 FM music show Behind the Groove.