I remember my first funeral. It was for a teacher I loved dearly. I remember the car ride to it. Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic” was on the radio as I passed a bridge to that arrival.
I was scared to death about seeing a body in repose, the place where we’re ALL destined.
My grandmother’s passing had me in therapy, and only years later, I’ve learned to appreciate how people celebrate life through it, as she was my caretaker for the most formidable places in my young life.
I still take her Italian recipes with me to the grave, not only her sauce but also her soul because they both sunk in.
You can’t get any better feeling at home than down into the bone.
Welcome to the seventh episode of Atlanta (FX) titled “Trini 2 De Bone”.
We open on a white man jogging through the city. As “Black Harlow” by Sada Baby blasts a vehement rapping in his earphones, all the way to his high rise. This is Miles (Justin Hagan).
His son, Sebastion (Indy Sullivan Groudis), or “Bash” awaits Sylvia. He won’t even touch his bland breakfast sandwich without her homemade spicy curry mango. Things seem off, as Sylvia, his caretaker is late and with good reason: she’s not for this world.
After Miles receives the call, a knock is heard on the door and a package is left with nary a courier insight. It is addressed to Sylvia Hossonah.
Miles’ wife Bronwyn (Christina Bennett Lind), escorts her son into school, simply throwing a blanket over Sylvia’s absence. He only wants Sylvia, causing his mother to nearly break down. The perceptive lad thinks mum is sad because she’s ‘missed yoga class’, but in the back of his mind, he may know better.
Maybe this pain is due to the fact her own flesh and blood pines for the company of someone who isn’t technically family, but her son would soon croon a different tune.
As the bell tolls for Bash’s first class, it turns out school is in session for both of his parents, as clearly, they haven’t made the grade…
That night in the cab on the way home, Bronwyn gets a Facetime from hubby. They both seem alright in light of the situation.
He tried to leave the package with the doorman, but he honestly didn’t know its origins.
Bronwyn also relays that Bash’s teacher inquired about both of their being in absentia on family picture day. Right in front of the boy.
They both seem incredulous, going as far as using the term “ridiculous” (a word used by the dude trying to explain reparations to his child), Bash couldn’t be the only one in a private school left high and dry due to their parents having high ranking jobs.
Where they are lopped off at the knees is how to spill the beans to Bash.
Though wifey second-guesses if breaking the seal and popping that bottle is a recipe for a cork to the eye, Miles is all for confronting the truth, front and center.
He even cites presumably Sebastian’s psychologist, Dr. Lipschitz (which, is a funny joke), finding a ‘teachable moment’ in the wild.
At home, they both try to ease the conversation with their son in terms of the dinosaurs he’s playing with, but mollycoddling discourse only muddies the water, so Miles outright says that his beloved nanny, Sylvia has died.
The poor precocious cherub understands the concept. He’s never been given credit, it seems, for his emotional intelligence by his parents.
He simply wishes one last time for her to say goodbye, and then continue on being dead. They gently shoot down that wish.
If such is the case then, he would at least like to see her one last time.
Again, though Miles is all for transparency, Bronwyn is hesitant. A knock is heard again at the door.
As daddy goes to answer it, Bash is inquisitive as to where Sylvia had gone off to. Though his mother cannot offer any fast-food explanation, he posits that maybe she went back to Trinidad and Tobago… and that’s something you can’t fucking order in.
Opening the door, at Miles’ feet lay the very same package with a ‘2nd ATTEMPT’ stamped, still with no courier in an eye’s length over that long hallway. Not even any footsteps.
As Bronwyn cleans out Sylvia’s closet, she bemoans not hiring somebody younger. With that, Miles doubles down on wanting to take Bash to her funeral, honoring his wishes instead of having him potentially live in fear of death.
After all, as he puts it, the living room used to be for showcasing the dead before America started turning up its noses on reality.
That night in bed, Bronwyn skirts the current situation by burying her brain in the future: a cosmopolitan nanny or a Chinese one.
She’s suddenly frightened by the child, in the doorway.
The poor kid’s scared and only heightened because Sylvia’s no longer there.
Now Bronwyn’s equally as scared. She feels she must fill that feminine void, but even her attempting a good backrub couldn’t make the tyke fall asleep, because it’s not simple motions.
She cannot replicate what Bash references as Sylvia’s ‘Sweet T and T’ song which contains the line “Trini To De Bone”.
Raffie’s “Baby Beluga” can go fuck itself. Shit ain’t got no soul, so though, I know you’re trying your best, Bron, but hon, it’s too little too late.
On their way to the funeral, the Warners are now the fish out of the water, deep in the heart of Harlem. In Bronwyn’s semi-snarky tone, they’re “practically in the islands”. Classy.
Pulling up in his rich black SUV, Miles attempts to address two guys sitting out, but Khadija (Khadija Speer), Sylvia’s daughter greets them.
Pleasantries are exchanged before one of the guys, Richard, calls Miles a ‘cockroach’.
Khadija diplomatically assures them it’s not as bad as it sounds until Bash pipes that “cockroach has no place at fowl party.”
Chickens will eat cockroaches if given the opportunity if no better option is around.
Immediately, Khadija takes a shine to Sebastian. It turns out that because Bash is family, his parents are simply guests. This means, though, despite Bronwyn’s silent pleas, they will stay for the food wake-cum-food-coma.
When speaking with Khadija, Bash turns very vocal. He’s even happy, talking from the soul as if he were born Trini himself in another life.
Inside the funeral parlor, the three walk past the grieving, making a b-line to Sylvia’s casket.
Miles lifts up his son to view the one person that meant the world to him and the reality of that blue spinning marble.
No tears are shed on the boy’s eyes—just a calmness that washes over him like an ‘ocean breath’.
Proceeding back to their seats, they meet her comparè who offers his services, and Curtis (Chet Hanks), a gentleman with a thick accent that Sylvia nannied when he was a child.
He’s not from the islands though. He’s from Tribeca.
(Yes, that Chet Hanks.)
As the Preacher (Noel Arthur) arrives with an opening joke, the Warners realize this isn’t going to be what they are used to.
Two out of three ain’t bad, right?
It’s a ‘homegoing service’ and with each and every Amen, Bash is as vocal in the call in response as his parents had ever seen.
It’s as if he’s in a trance, tethered to Sylvia Lucille Hosannah from the beyond.
Sylvia’s noted to be survived by her children Princess Lee (Alia Raquel), Khadija Lee, and Steven Lee Jr.
It turns out she was a nanny to many in NYC as well as an accomplished ballet dancer and teacher before having kids of her own.
With each and every passing praise to Sylvia, including being the first of her family to move from Trinidad to NYC and sending money to her family, Princess Lee is growing mighty silent.
Before she is bound for the loam, her final request is a limbo dance from students and alumni complements of an after-school high school dance program she herself founded to the tune of “Trini 2 De Bone.”
At the mere mention of this, Bash is smiling and animated.
His parents see this as a step in the right direction. Maybe a ‘teachable moment’ has come to pass!
With everybody in high spirits and on their feet, Princess Lee ain’t feeling so hot… until she’s feeling HOT!
Macing the merriment and mirth, she takes hold of the mic and everybody’s attention…
She spits the truth when she said that her success came at the sacrifice of her and Steven. She lights the fuse by punching her mother’s coffin, ultimately inciting bedlam.
With fists flying into the air, her sister histrionic sister climbing into the coffin, Curtis filming it all for the austere posterity of Worldstar, the circus is brought all to a halt by the comparè.
They are scaring the white people!
Upon asking the most important one, Bash, if he’s scared, a mere nod speaks volumes.
The comparison assures him there’s nothing to worry about.
They’re all sad. That is the way they grieve.
On the drive home that night, silence ensues in the car until Miles starts singing “Trini 2 de Bone”.
Hey, rip the flesh, sinew, and muscle off. All you still have is the skeleton when left in the grave.
Tucked in for the night, Miles makes sure that sonny is alright. He assuredly is, as he bids his dad goodnight as well as Sylvia.
Bronwyn’s lassitude is showing.
She’s worried that their son witnessing the problems of one mother not being there would inject thoughts into his head that they weren’t there when he needed them the most.
Miles assures her that bash is very much fine. It’s his coping and trusting versus her not coping nor trusting.
Bronwyn confesses that when she asked him earlier what he wanted to be when all grown up, his response was to “play steelpan like Uncle Samuel”.
This confounds both of them.
Later that night, a vehement RAPPING is at the door and, unlike the prior two times, will not stop… until he’s but a foot away from the door. He opens the door to find the same parcel and once and for all opens it up. What does he find?
Why it’s Sebastian and Sylvia on parent picture day!
He rifles through a few 8x10s until he sees it. He is broadsided by the picture. The stare of Sylvia and Sebastian looking HARD at the viewer, at his dad as if to say to Miles and Bronwyn from beyond the grave, “We’re the winning team. You guys are simply in the stands.”
Miles wanted transparency for his son. Well, I guess he got it, smiling right back at him. Front and center.
Sometimes you don’t have to wear contacts just to see the context in front of you.
Or maybe it’s not your eyes that need to get checked but rather your heart.
… Out of the mouth of Babes…