From beads, to brass music, to Carnival ball gowns, New Orleans Mardi Gras is a sacred ritual. It’s comprised of many smaller rituals like placing a King Cake baby or building a ladder for your children.
Once, I left my car parked on the parade route to find out it had been towed. I learned that Mardi Gras is also law. Today, I think of it in terms of the most famous law, gravity. If the city is like the Earth, then Mardi Gras is the sun. And the millions of people across the globe who’ve made the journey to New Orleans for Mardi Gras are like the stars in an ever-expanding solar system.
But without the gravity of the sun, where would the Earth be? The answer is: probably lost and frozen out in space. That’s been the City of New Orleans without Mardi Gras—if not lost, then seriously out of balance.
Similarly, my cousin Mackie was like the sun. And I was the Earth, orbiting around the gravitational force of him. Growing up, that gravity always strengthened or gave way due to life’s terms, and as so, it loosened up again five years ago when I left New Orleans and moved to Ascension Parish to become a newspaper editor.
Mackie lent me his big prop trailer for my move. He would’ve helped me move, I’m certain, but it was February and Carnival Season, 2017, when I took off this time. My dad and brother were there for me.
Things worked out, and I got married in 2020 after finding my Carrie and two new stepchildren, Claire and Charlie. My life pulled further from Mackie’s gravity. By that time, he’d been in a relationship with his Kerri for four years, helping her raise Brady and Sophie as well as his own daughter, Mia.
Brady passed away on May 17, 2021. A Brother Martin student, he was seventeen. Young people were in line to the parking lot at St. Philip Neri Church in Metairie to pay their respects. I sat behind Mackie during the service. The pain was incomprehensible.
Then Mackie died on December 27, 2021. A heart attack. I knew he was hurting, but he was always the strongest man I knew.
I feel like Matt Kowalski in Gravity, played by George Clooney. The tether on my space suit has been cut, and now I’m floating towards the unknown. And this time for good I’m afraid.