Joyce Carol Vincent forces us to think about our support structures.
All of the really deep life lessons I’ve learned have come from other black women, often at their expense or mine. While I’m grateful for the lessons, I never wanted to watch someone struggle with addiction to learn humility and perseverance. I wouldn’t have wished someone’s partner of 40 years dead for that rare glimpse at unfiltered love. I wish I wouldn’t have Joyce Carol Vincent to remind me to be intentional about my life and who is in it.
For those of you who don’t know. Joyce was a woman of color in the UK, born to Caribbean parents, who was dead in her apartment for 3 years before anyone found her. No one noticed she was gone. Black women die and are forgotten all the time, especially those who are poor, face drug and alcohol addictions, etc. None of those things were the case for Joyce. For me it’s not important to juxtapose her apparently “normal” and “social” life with the circumstances of her passing. For me it’s about the possibility that Joyce could have had that life–fun and exciting– didn’t truly know why it was important.
Joyce Vincent taught me that it is an act of self care to surround yourself with people who truly care about you. We go to work, we care for others, we fret over the details of our day: how the bills will get paid, how the plan will pan out. We forget why. I will always be intentional about creating a structure that leaves room for love to pour in. I never want to forget to be intentional about being cared for. I can only hope that Joyce knew that despite her heart-breaking circumstances. But even if she did, it’s too late now because she’s gone. It always seems like we learn these lessons too late.
Filmmaker Carol Morley made a documentary about the life of Joyce Carol Vincent entitled Dreams of a Life.
Sesali is thinking about her legacy.