Oct. 19, 2022

Myesha Stokes - Looking for answers and carrying out her brother’s legacy

Myesha and Maya are probably the ones that have the most in common because both of their younger brothers were murdered, so they were left looking for answers. The call that changed Myesha’s life forever, the one where they told her her little...

Myesha and Maya are probably the ones that have the most in common because both of their younger brothers were murdered, so they were left looking for answers. The call that changed Myesha’s life forever, the one where they told her her little brother, Tony, had passed, was the beginning of a nightmare. It wasn’t until years later that she began her grief journey, and one of the ways she has decided to honor her brother is by creating SAVED.

In this week's episode, I am sharing Myesha and Tony’s story, how she felt after she received “The Call” and what she wanted to do, her relationship with her mother, how she has decided to honor her brother like SAVED, and Love Notes to Heaven and so much more

In this episode I’m covering:

  • Intro [00:00:00]
  • Myesha and Antonio’s story [00:01:57]
  • Myesha’s feelings after “The Call” [00:13:33]
  • Family dynamics [00:17:10]
  • Looking for answers [00:22:17]
  • Myesha’s grief journey [00:27:16]
  • Carrying out Tony’s legacy [00:31:15]
  • Love Notes to Heaven [00:46:55]
  • Advice for Young Myesha and Surviving Siblings [00:50:39]

For full episode show notes and transcript, click here.

Connect with Myesha

Myesha’s Instagram | @pretty.women.watch.sports

SAVED Instagram | @saved_dmv

Facebook | Myesha

TikTok | @mymymygemini


Connect with Maya 

Instagram | @survivingsiblingspodcast | @mayaroffler 

TikTok | @survivingsiblingspodcast

Twitter | @survivingsibpod

Website | The Surviving Siblings


[00:00:00] Maya: Welcome to the Surviving Siblings Podcast. I'm your host, Maya Roffler. As a surviving sibling myself, I knew that I wanted to share my story, my brother's story. I lost my brother to a homicide in November, 2016, and after going through this experience, I knew that I wanted to share my story and his story, and it's taken me quite some time to come to the mic to tell it, but I knew it was an important one to tell.

[00:00:38] Maya: So here I am to share his story and mine with you. And it's important that I tell the story of the surviving Sibling, The Forgotten mourner the story that is not told enough. So thank you for coming with me on this journey, and now it's your turn to share your stories.

[00:01:02] Maya: Today I have an incredible guest again on today. I have Myesha on the show, Myesha and I probably have the most in common out of all the guests I'll have on this season. it's not really something you wanna celebrate that we have in common, but it's heartwarming to know that I'm not the only person that has been through this.

[00:01:24] Maya: So, Myesha, I wanna welcome you to the Surviving Siblings Podcast.

[00:01:29] Myesha: Thank you, Maya. And again, thank you so much for opening up this door. This platform is gonna be amazing.

[00:01:36] Maya: Thank you so much. Well, Myesha is here today to share her story about the loss of her brother Antonio, who she lost 20 years ago, coming up, September 28th.

[00:01:49] Maya: So when you guys hear this, we'll have passed that time. But Myesha, share the story of Antonio.

[00:01:57] Myesha: Antonio known to me as Tony or little brother. He was my everything. Only person I grew up with in my household because he's passed, I am now the only child. the day he died was September 28th, 2002. It probably would be what I describe as the worst day of my life.

[00:02:21] I got the call from my, someone in the neighborhood called my mom. I got the call from my mom. She was frantic. I was on a double date with my boyfriend at the time, and his friend, I got the call from my mom. She was frantic, she was crying. She told me to meet her in the neighborhood. My boyfriend told his friend, Turn the car around.

[00:02:42] Myesha: We have to go around the way. We were there in about 10 to 15 minutes, and by the time I got there, my brother was already in the body bag. They told my mom when they called her that they, that someone had pulled him from under the car and he was already dead. And that was the case when my mother got there, she saw him.

[00:03:02] Myesha: When I got there, he was already in the body bag.

[00:03:04] Maya: That's fast. That's quick. Yeah. I can imagine Myesha that you went through a lot of what I went through too. Just the shock and it was so fast and so quick. And this was in, you guys were living in DC at the time, so you're actually not that far from me. But you said something very specific too, as you're beginning to tell your story. The call, that's something that I shared in season one of the podcast. We never forget that call, right? With, I mean, 20 years later here, this is what you opened your story with, right?

[00:03:34] Myesha: It was the beginning of a nightmare. Honestly. It that's, that's how it felt. It felt like a really, really bad nightmare.

[00:03:45] Maya: Yeah. So what was next for you, after you, I mean, this is so fast. You get this call from your mother, of course. She's completely torn apart and you are as well. You get there and it's so final. you know, you getting there and he's in a, a body bag that's so final to see that. What, what happened next for you?

[00:04:07] Myesha: Yeah, so he was murdered in front of the building that we lived in when we were in junior high school. The exact building neighborhood grass where the cars parked right there. Wow. It was, it was a lot surreal because that was somewhere that my mom raised us because she thought it was safe enough to raise us there and then to turn around and have him murdered in that same spot. It hurt. It hurt a lot. The guy who, who murdered my brother though, he was not a member of the neighborhood. His family was, he was a family member of someone who lived in the neighborhood.

[00:05:01] Maya: I just get chills when you tell me that part of the story. So he's not someone that would always be around, but he is a family member of someone that was around. Always. You knew. You knew these people. Yeah. Ugh, I get chills. Oh my gosh. So how did you guys know that it was him? How'd you find this out?

[00:05:23] Myesha: My mom. My mom identified him when she got there. When she got there. So when she got the call, the call told her, Someone told her that he, that they pulled him from under a car. Mm-hmm. . And when she got there, he was in that exact same spot, she beat the corner there. And that, that was how we knew it was him. Of course, she had to go through the identifying him at the morgue and that whole thing because that's, I guess, the process of it. But mm-hmm. , she knew it was him. Right. And when sh when I saw her reaction and how I saw her acting when I got there, that's how I, that was my confirmation. Seeing how she was taking it was my confirmation with it was my brother.

[00:06:13] Maya: Yeah. And so how, so who was telling you guys about the neighbor and the connection there and, and the story of how that happened? How did you guys find all of that out?

[00:06:23] Myesha: People in the neighbourhood.

[00:06:24] Maya: Did you find out that that evening, or was this an evolution that happened?

[00:06:27] Myesha: So, because I was still close with the people in the community, I kind of did an investigation myself because I wanted answers. I wasn't about to let the police take this case and make it go cold. I wanted answers. It was my brother. He was taking away from me.

[00:06:44] Myesha: I felt like I needed to know. And so I was asking questions to everybody and asking people, The people that I were asking questions, I was asking them to ask other people questions I needed to know. And so what was told to me was that the guy who by the way was old enough to be my brother's dad, he and my brother had gotten into a verbal altercation.

[00:07:11] Myesha: It was. After they got into the altercation, the neighborhood went back to being the same. My brother was a jokester. I'm quite sure. He thought nothing of the argument and what's going on about his day. And then they said the guy came back and then that's when he shot my brother nine times. I asked the question about how my brother got under the car.

[00:07:36] Myesha: The only thing that anybody could come up with was maybe he thought crawling under the car would prevent the person from shooting him. Whether he was shot all nine times before he crawled under the car. I'm not sure, but they identified nine bullet holes and he was pulled from under a car by one of his friends. And then that's how my mom got the call.

[00:08:00] Maya: And then of course that's when you got the call as we refer to it. Yes. As all of you surviving siblings know the call. We all know that, that, I mean, this story is an intense one, Myesha, I, I understand going through homicide, but this is a very intense story and I'd appreciate you sharing this with us.

[00:08:22] Myesha: The intensity of it is, is real because I, because I was very inquisitive. I found out more than I wanted to, but I, like I said, I wanted to know. I found out that he was shot nine times and I found out that he had a bullet hole in his hand because he was probably trying to refrain from, I guess it was just a defense mechanism for him to put his hands up. But yeah, being shot nine times is prob, it's pretty horrific.

[00:08:52] Maya: Horrific. Horrific being shot at all is horrific, but nine times is horrific. Oh my gosh. Like my heart just hurts with this story, but it's an important one and I'm really glad you're telling it. And here we are, 20 years your anniversary, Antonio. So, but I think I relate to you so much and I'm sure a lot of people listening to, to, because we care so much and we love so much and we want answers, and answers are so important as I talk about on season one and just naturally as humans, we want answers. And sometimes, like you said, I think what you said is really important.

[00:09:28] Maya: Sometimes we learn a little more then maybe we wanted to know. But you have to go, if you're gonna ask questions, you have to be prepared to sometimes not like the answer or the outcome. I mean, I found that for me personally, that at least I got answers and, you know, it was helpful moving forward. And, you know, everyone's a little different in that.

[00:09:50] Maya: But so for you, you rolled your sleeves up, You're in this, in, in personal self investigation of this story. You guys knew this guy. So walk me through what happens next. I mean, you, you are quite a strong person, Myesha, I'm sure you did not let this go, but walk us, what happens now?

[00:10:08] Myesha: Some, somebody knew this guy. I didn't know him. I just know he was a relative of someone who lived in the neighborhood. I, if they showed me him in the lineup, I probably wouldn't even be able to identify this guy. I'm not quite sure how well my brother knew this guy, honestly, because again, we moved from the neighborhood, but my brother still hung in the neighborhood.

[00:10:31] Myesha: All we know is that he was the relative of someone who lived in the neighborhood. And it still kinda hurts because when you live in a neighborhood and you become close with people in a neighborhood, you would think that like their family is, can kind of be like your family too. But I also wondered what would make this grown man result to killing an 18 year old because of a verbal altercation. It's, it's probably the most sickening thing aside from, I mean it that I can personally relate to. It's sickening guns in this country is a problem, but we, we'll save that for another time.

[00:11:17] Maya: We're gonna talk about a little bit at the end, so to tease you guys, because we both feel passionately about this because of our experience. But yes, I mean, that could be a whole other episode, right? Myesha but yeah, we're gonna talk on it about it a little bit at the end, but, no, definitely. So people knew, knew who he was, you knew of him. But what was your journey like after losing Antonio in this September, 2002? I mean, were, you were on this journey of investigation and were you taking your findings to the police? I mean, I know what mine looked like and everyone listening does too, but what was yours like? Because mine was kind of highs and lows, ups and downs, ebbs and flows, you know, frustrating. Kind of on my own. Then I had, you know, was partnering with the police. I trusted them. I didn't trust them. Ugh, I'm exhausted even sharing that, you know? What was it like for you? What was next?

[00:12:12] Maya: We hope you're enjoying this incredible episode of the Surviving Siblings Podcast. I'm your host, Maya ler. We'll be back in just a minute. After hearing from our incredible sponsor, are you feeling lost in your grief journey? Perhaps even stuck as a surviving sibling? I too have felt lost, stuck, confused, angry, Well, fill in the blank. I felt so many emotions along my grief journey. I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about too. Along the way, I found that what I needed was answers to all of my unanswered questions, validation, permission to feel everything that I was feeling at different times, and ultimately I needed guidance. That's why I created the Grief Guide for Surviving Siblings. This is a 23 page guide that guides you the surviving sibling along your grief journey, written and created by a surviving sibling for surviving siblings. Click the link in the show notes to get your copy or visit the surviving siblings.com where you can also find more show information, merchandise for surviving siblings like you, and more resources and support.

[00:13:33] Myesha: Maya. I personally thought about taking matters into my own hand. I don't think I've ever publicly admitted this, but I wanted this person's family to feel my pain, and I was gonna do that by any means. It was, I was 21 at the time, so I was young. And I had just lost the person who I grew up with, My best friend, my brother.

[00:14:02] Myesha: I wanted them to feel my pain. I didn't rely on the police. If you know anything about homicides in DC or, I mean homicides per cases go cold all the time. I wasn't about to wait for that by any means. This family was going to feel like I felt, but thank God I have a sound mind and people around me, at the time, people were around me telling me, Hey you, this is not gonna be good.

[00:14:29] Myesha: Your mother is gonna lose two children. You cannot do this. And I listened, , I listened because had I not listened, I would not have been able to witness the most important thing out of my brother. And that's his daughter.

[00:14:50] Maya: Which is really important. But I understand where you're coming from and anyone listening to this, you guys, if you've gone through a homicide, like even if you've just lost your, your sibling in general from anything, you, you just want people to understand. Sometimes you're paying, you're like, you don't get it unless you've gone through it. So, but if you are in our situation with a homicide, you go through that anger. We're really talking about the anger phase here. Right. You know? And you just want revenge . That's really what you want.

[00:15:18] Myesha: That's a way to put it.

[00:15:20] Maya: Yeah. How are we gonna say this nicely? I'm gonna go after you. Oh yeah. I mean, I like, I'm, I'm totally transparent about too, like, I dreamed about it. I'm like, how am I gonna get revenge? I'm like thinking about all these revenge movies and st you know what I mean? Like, I was angry, you know, oftentimes when I'm interviewed now about this, because now I do speak openly about this and I'm so proud of you for speaking openly about this and admitting that.

[00:15:43] Maya: Myesha, I think that's a really hard thing to admit, but I, I will say that I'm like my emotion or my stage or, you know, whatever people wanna classify it as, was anger. That's what I got stuck in for a while. And it's because you wanna get back at those people. You want them to feel, you want them to, and to move past that is so difficult.

[00:16:02] Maya: So I just wanna commend you for that. And you had a big reason to do that. His daughter, and he was quite young. He was, you know, Antonio was 18 when you lost him. He has a daughter who is, now you were telling me she's a junior, right? So, wow. Yeah. Yeah. You've gotta keep his spirit alive for her. So there's that, that purpose for you. And I think that's really beautiful that you have that there. I think that's huge. Something I wanna ask you here too is you're talking about family. Is your dynamic changed? This is a question I ask everybody who has a dynamic change in their family?

[00:16:39] Maya: It didn't change so much for me because I'm the oldest, so it wasn't really a change for me. I just now didn't have any brothers living anymore. That was a huge change. It was. I miss him. You know, he was my best friend in the family, But for you, Myesha, it was big too because yeah, you no longer have your brother, but you've now become the only child. You're in a different role. Right. So talk to me a little bit and, and all of, you know, every, our surviving siblings listening, how that changed your family dynamic just in general?

[00:17:10] Myesha: Honestly, things between my mother and I changed, but it changed for the better. And I hate saying that to people because it seems like I'm saying I'm glad that my brother died. I'm not, but my mother and I were always close. But after my brother died, we became basically attached at the hip. I live in Charlotte now. I'm six hours away from home and my mother calls me every day. But before I moved to Charlotte, I was living in the same house with my mother for some of those years. Even when I wasn't living with her, I was still talking to her every day prior to this.

[00:17:53] Maya: I think that's beautiful though. I think that's a beautiful thing.

[00:17:56] Myesha: It is. Yeah, it is. Because I think the bigger lesson here is to not take these relationships for granted, because even unexpectedly you could just lose people and what do you have left if you don't have memories of them? Because some people look at memories and are like, "Oh, I wish I had the person here in the flesh" and I'm, I'm thankful for the memories. I would love to have my brother here, but I love the memories I do. But as far as my dynamic goes, it changed for the better because my mother and I got so close. And then even though we lost him, we gained his daughter, who I must say is him thoroughly as a girl.

[00:18:39] Maya: That's special though. That's really great. And I ask this question to anyone who comes on or everyone who comes on naturally answers it in one way or the other. Either I ask or if they answer it because there's typically some kind of shift and it always affects the family in one way or another, and I really don't see it. Anywhere in between.

[00:19:01] Maya: There's really no gray. It's typically white and white, right? It's either super positive or it kind of falls apart. And I'm the follow, yeah, I'm the fall apart version. So I was really curious to see what happened with you Myesha, when you were speaking so beautifully about his daughter and how she's carrying on his legacy.

[00:19:18] Maya: I mean, I truly believe in that. I'm very like spiritual and open to that kind of thing, and I definitely think that's what's going on in your situation. So what a beautiful thing. And I love that you and your mother came together and I think only us, you know, all of you guys listening, and us here together as surviving siblings could really understand what you're saying as far as you know, I'm not saying I don't want my brother here.

[00:19:40] Maya: I would take him back in two seconds, you know? But. . I'm grateful that it did bring my mother and I closer together. I'm not saying that, but like, you know, I don't want him here. But we get exactly what you're saying because that's what everybody hopes out of this. You know, that it brings your family closer together, eventually doesn't tear them apart or doesn't cause more destruction.

[00:20:03] Myesha: Yeah. I, I know people who have lost siblings, not to murder or anything, but it's drawn people apart. And I honestly look at those situations and ask, how do you deal and who do you talk to? Because as strong as we may think we are, we can't do this alone. It's something that even though I will, he was my only sibling and I no longer had a sibling to share that with, but I needed somebody. How would you not want. How did you just not want to be turmoil and bitterness and all that stuff after losing someone that's probably more heartbreaking than losing someone.

[00:20:51] Maya: Yeah, I agree. I mean, you totally get it, Myesha. I'm sure all of you guys listening get it too. And for me, as I share in my story and my journey, I felt like it was multiple losses for me because I went through so much loss because of that, so I think the important message here, especially from your story, is find a way to come together and keep, keep the memories alive, but also find a way to, to bond and move forward together. I think that's so beautiful and a beautiful message. And now his daughter is, you know, continuing to carry his spirit.

[00:21:24] Maya: I think that's really beautiful. Well, we all wanna know, we're all on pins and needles, so here we are into this investigation and. What ha what happened If you're, Again, I'm gonna repeat myself, but if you're anything like me, you did not give up. I'm sure. And I'm like you, I was like, I'm not trusting. Like I was over the detectives.

[00:21:46] Maya: I was over the cops, I was over this stuff and there's some good ones out there, don't give me wrong. But here in Atlanta, it's like DC it's like there's a lot of corruption, there's a lot of, there's gotta take the good with the bad. Right? And a lot of cold cases. To your point. So what kind of, where did your journey end up or where did you go with your, with your facts?

[00:22:05] Maya: Did you ever, did you ever end up taking any of it to a, like a private investigator or cops or anything? Or were you just gonna go and actually handle it with that family? Did you ever confront the family? I wanna know all of this.

[00:22:17] Myesha: Maya, I thought about it and I got to the place where I was about to, and then I stepped away. Sometimes I don't like taking steps backwards, but in that instance, steps backwards was a good thing. Because who knows, Myesha at 21 with no cares. I hadn't gone, I hadn't done finished college and none of that stuff. I didn't have anything to lose. I had already lost the most important thing as far as the investigation goes.

[00:22:48] Myesha: The, the detectives did keep in touch with my mom for about maybe a year after that. I stopped asking, honestly, if she heard from the detectives, because every time I asked, it was, Well, they're saying such and such, and it was hot there and it only pissed me off more. It honestly, because whether this guy, God forgive me, but whether this guy was dead or alive, I wanted something to happen to him.

[00:23:18] Myesha: Just like what happened to my brother? As far as justice, I still don't know. Honestly, I've been told not to worry about it by several people, and a part of me hasn't stopped worrying about it, honestly, because it's one of those things, and it, again, it's not that I don't care, but it started consuming so much of me that I felt like I owed it to him to move on and be my best because in our conversations when he was alive, he told me how much he wanted me to be a part of his daughter's life, and I could not have done that had I let what happened to him consume me.

[00:24:03] Myesha: That's not to say I don't think about him. I, that's not to say I don't miss him. That's not to say I wished this on him or anything like that, but I owed it to him essentially because I owed it to her. because that was what we talked about. That was what he wanted. Even if he were still alive, I'm sure, I'm 200% sure that even if he was still alive, his daughter and I would be as close as we are today.

[00:24:31] Maya: That's amazing that you know that. That's awesome. I think we're left with so many, We're just left with so many questions. To your point, you know, when we lose someone suddenly, and even when we lose someone and we expect it, we're left with questions. So when we lose someone, suddenly we're left with a whole other other like bags and bags, bags. I was gonna say bag. I'm like, No, there's bags and bags of questions.

[00:24:55] Myesha: They're questions. So you're just, We're a lot more and they're way more intense.

[00:25:00] Maya: Absolutely. Well put. Yeah, and I think it's, It's very difficult. It's very difficult to decide, you know, when am I going to. You know, move forward. And this is my next question I wanna ask you because you're just hitting on so many great, great points.

[00:25:15] Maya: But I was curious. I was like, okay, this is, you know, we gotta gotta tell all me and all of you guys listening, what happened? We always wanna know the outcome, like what happened. Do keep us on the edge of our seats. But I understand where you're coming from because you know that's where I'm at too. And I am in the same boat as you.

[00:25:32] Maya: I know exactly who did it. I know exactly who killed my brother and there's nothing I can do about it. Like there's nothing I can do about it. And I had to come to a point where very similar to you, like, am I gonna do this? I owe it to him. I owe it to myself too. That's something I wanted to say to you, Myesha, you owe it to yourself, right?

[00:25:52] Maya: We owe it to ourselves, but we don't see that at first. And we definitely don't see it in the first year and not at 21. You're not gonna see that .

[00:25:59] Myesha: Not at all. And it honestly, I didn't even see it in five. It took me a while. Yeah.

[00:26:06] Maya: Yeah. Well, thank, thank you to my therapist. Shout out and, took a lot of therapy, and a lot of, lot of processing or else I would not Yeah, it takes time and I think that's something that a lot of surviving siblings need to understand too. Like they get frustrated with themselves, you know, they wanna push it forward too, too quickly. Right. We're here to tell you, Myesha, 20 years in when you hear this right. And you know, I will be almost six years by the time you guys hear this episode. And it takes time. It does. And. We're still getting emotional on this episode, so it, it's okay.

[00:26:40] something I wanna ask you though, we're talking about it right now, so very, very relevant. What are, what is your opinion or what is your take on the moving on versus moving forward? I think this is such an important thing and I think it's, so we hear this a lot as, surviving siblings, but anybody really going through grief when people are like, It's time to move on.

[00:27:01] Maya: People will say that, that was always a stinger for me and I don't really believe in that. I wanna hear your opinion in moving on versus moving forward. Cause I'm a believer in moving forward. But what's your opinion on this Myesha? 20 years? You've got some years ahead of me. I wanna hear your knowledge.

[00:27:16] Myesha: I'm, I'm at 20 years. Mm-hmm. , let me tell you, I heard that, or maybe the first five before people started getting tongue lashes at me. Like, You're not gonna tell me to move on. Who are you to tell me to move on? This is, this is my bro. I'm not moving on. You move on. For me, I, I wholeheartedly agree with you. It's all about moving forward because you can move on, but when you move on, you can take steps forward or backwards when you move forward, it's only one direction forward. And when I say move forward, I'm not saying that you can't think about the past because essentially moving it, thinking about the past is kind of moving back, but it's not.

[00:28:02] Myesha: When you think about the good memories and even if you wanna sometimes think about the bad ones, for me that was how I was able to move forward because those memories allowed me to say to myself, Hey, I remember I used to do this. Oh, well maybe if I have a son, I can do this with my son forward. Because I don't have children right now.

[00:28:27] Myesha: If I move back, I won't ever have children, but if I'm moving forward, there's a possibility of me having a baby, right? And one of the things that I try not to get so wrapped up in when I talk about this kind of thing is the negative connotations behind me moving forward. I don't expect everybody to understand. I understand. And that's what matters. nothing anybody else says or does matters. My journey. My story, my brother, my progress. You don't have to like it. You can be, I can move on from you, . You get it? I can move on. For people who don't choose to understand, the people who I want to move forward with. Are the ones who accept the fact that sometimes I will get emotional and sometimes I'll cry, and sometimes I'll just want to look at his picture and they support me still, even though it's been 20 years.

[00:29:24] Maya: I love it. I totally understand what you're saying. I love this. I've never had anybody expl. That's okay. I've never had anybody explain it that way. It's, it's a different way. This is why I love asking this question because I love how you just said moving forward and then moving on. Like you can always go back if you move.

[00:29:46] Maya: I love how you said that. That's so cool. Like, and I think it's, you know, in grief I think it's important and I think in anything in life but in, in grief for me I needed like visuals and I needed people to like explain things for me and like really just wrap my head around it because I tend to be a little over analytical so I analyze

[00:30:06] Maya: Yes, especially and I'm like, oh, Myesha can probably relate cuz she was an investigator like me, you know, putting on an investigator hat. But you know, so when people tell me things like that, I really get it. So hopefully you guys get that out of these questions as well because I think when we hear all these different perspectives from people like yourself, Myesha, I think it's really cool. And, and just eye opening because what you're saying is just so powerful moving forward with people and those people are moving forward with you. But moving on, like you can move back. I think it, it just, it clicks with me. It makes a lot of sense to me. I understand what you're saying completely. So what are some things that you can, I, well we're gonna get into this in a second, but what are some things that you do to kind of honor, obviously you have a relationship with, your niece, but what are some things that you do now, you know, you're 20 years into this, to continually honor your brother.

[00:31:04] Maya: Obviously it's the relationship with your niece, but are there other things that you've done to kind of carry out Tony, Antonio, Tony's, legacy? What, what are some things that you've done? I think that's really helpful when we share that.

[00:31:15] Myesha: So for quite some time, going back to undergrad years, I had this idea to start an organization.

[00:31:25] Myesha: I got, I got my first degree in 2005, so around the time I was working on the first degree, I had this idea I'm gonna have an organization. And the idea came to me when I was in a computer science class and I had to come up with a website and I had to design it and all this stuff. And I came up with the name for the organization back in 2005.

[00:31:48] Myesha: I didn't get serious, so to speak. And I founded the organization, Siblings Against Violent Encounters With Death. I founded the organization in 2017, so we just celebrated five years, July 6th. Congratulations. Thank you. The organization, I started the organization because I wanted, People like us to know, one, that you're not alone.

[00:32:15] Myesha: And two, you can't say you're healing if you're not healing. So the main, the main goal of the organization is to connect siblings with healing services. And our mission, we're, we're connecting people with therapists to, to promote healthy healing. Because you can heal and it can be toxic, but you wanna heal and you wanna truly be healed.

[00:32:44] Myesha: Right? So the, the, that's the basis of the organization. The organization also has campaigns. My niece, my brother's daughter is, a part of one of the campaigns. The legacy campaign where she would like to talk to people who have lost their dads and try to do like commemorative things with them. But ultimately the ultimate goal is just to connect with people to know that, hey, you can say you're healing, but are, what are you really doing to heal yourself?

[00:33:18] Myesha: And one of the main things I try to tell people, even if you healing for what, from whatever, you can't take care of anybody else. If you don't take care of you. I, I try not to use the whole half cup, cup half full cup, half empty, can't pull from empty thing. But honestly, think about like, Maya, had you not gone to therapy, do you really think you could have done this podcast to try to help others?

[00:33:46] Maya: Oh, definitely not. I was a mess. kidding me. I was about, it took a lot. It took a lot of work. It was a lot of therapy, A lot of work. A lot of, I mean, and, and to your point, Myesha, it wasn't just therapy, right? It was getting just a healthier lifestyle in general. Right. I read a lot of books about it. I had to do the things that made sense for me, support groups.

[00:34:07] Maya: I started joining support groups, different things. So it was like a collective and it took five years, as I say, in my opening, it took me five years to come to the mic like it did. It took me five years. And even that was tough. Right. So I love what you're talking about, like, so just to kind of go back just a little bit cuz we're about, I, we're gonna go in deep.

[00:34:26] Maya: I can tell with this and I love it. Can you explain a little bit to everyone who's listening, our amazing surviving siblings and more kind of the difference between us thinking we're healing and maybe toxic healing and what that is versus really positive healing. Cuz I know it, but I don't know if I could really define it as well as you can cuz this is your mission. I love this. If you could kind of dive into that a little bit deeper, Myesha.

[00:34:49] Myesha: So for me, I realized that before I got into therapy, I realized what healing for me was me not thinking about it, not talking about it going on. I would do certain things to commemorate, but I was still empty after I did those things.

[00:35:09] Myesha: And it's the feeling like if you don't know what feeling empty means, that's a reason to seek therapy in itself, right? because it's, it's a gut wrenching feeling, but. I, I would say that, I mean, when you, when you, you know, when you're not feeling like yourself, right? You know that if you go to vent to someone and after you finish talking to that person, they make you feel bad, and then now you feel worse.

[00:35:39] Myesha: You know, that's not healthy for you. You wanna talk to someone who, and I'm not saying that people have to validate how you feel because nobody wants a yes man. Even, even when it's tough, right? But when you go to talk to someone, therapist, friend, person on the street, you want to feel like that person genuinely cares about your wellbeing.

[00:36:07] Myesha: And I always say, as much as you get your physical health checked out, check your mental health too. Because once your mental health is gone, what, what really do you have left?

[00:36:19] Maya: Agreed. Yeah, I think that's, I, yeah, Thanks for sharing that. I think that's really important. For me, it was like a whole year plus, which, you know, again, I share, but why did that mean to, I know I was unhealthy.

[00:36:34] Myesha: I personally did not get into therapy for my,

[00:36:39] Maya: I was just gonna ask her. I was like, Tell us your part. How long did it take you? What's your journey?

[00:36:43] Myesha: Didn't, I didn't get into therapy for myself until I was in school for my master's degree in counseling and I took a loss in bereavement course.

[00:36:55] Maya: Oh my God. So what was the timeframe between losing Tony and, and then?

[00:37:00] Myesha: The organization was founded in 2017? I think I took that class in 2013.

[00:37:07] Maya: Oh my goodness. Okay. So this is a big lesson for anyone listening. It's never too, or I, This is what I say, and this is cheesy. I know, but it's never too early. It's never too late.

[00:37:17] Myesha: Never. Never, never. And the listeners should know that because one of the things that I try to tell everybody, even if you're not seeking therapy for loss or anything, there's no time stamp on healing. People heal when they feel like they're ready. Rushing someone to heal will probably hinder them more than it will hurt them.

[00:37:38] Maya: Love that. Mm-hmm. Yeah, because it's something you see a lot in families too, and something I experienced. You kind of want everybody to grieve the same, right? You, because you only understand your grief. So it's like everybody else. And you know, again, being me, being the vulnerable person that I am, my family, every, every single person has grieved differently. And I think there's quite a few of them that, in my opinion, have not processed it right or gone through it fully. And I had to really pull myself back and go, not my journey, like you said earlier in the podcast, loved that Myesha not my journey. That's their journey. And you know, I, I get judged for being so open and honest about things sometimes, but the reality is this is my journey and it is what it is. So this is incredible. So it was in 2013, so 11 years after.

[00:38:32] Myesha: Yeah, sometime between 2012 and 2013. Yep. Maya. I cried every night of that class. Every night. The first couple of nights I thought I'd get through it. The next, what? Four weeks? It was a crash course, like full five weeks. I had tissues and it was when I talked to my professor about it and I talked to him about the fact that I really had never spoken to anybody.

[00:38:59] Myesha: We had to share in the class something that we were going through, and he made us choose the most painful experience. Well, he didn't make us, but he asked us, Tap into the most painful thing you've ever experienced and share it. And I had to do that in front of the class. We were all learning adults.

[00:39:18] Myesha: Everybody had a different story and everybody cried every night. It was, it was that. That class was a blessing. Ev. I cried every night in that class. Especially when it was time for my time to share. And then when I talked to my professor about it, he was like, Yeah, so do you really think you could have done that if you didn't share this?

[00:39:36] Myesha: Like, how can you, That's where I got it from. How can you heal and how can you think about helping others if you can't heal and help yourself? I'm not, I'm no good to anybody if I'm not, well, that's, it's, it's life. Grief, loss, job, home. I'm not, well, nobody else is gonna benefit from anything I do.

[00:39:58] Maya: Yeah, I agree. I think this is really inspirational what you're sharing because I think sometimes we're, like I was talking about earlier in the episode, like I think we're just, you can hear me breathing out like, because I see it all the time in these support groups, and you probably see it with your group saved, like people that get involved, there's so much pressure to like go through the five stages or seven, whatever you believe in.

[00:40:19] Maya: You know, they added the two other stages on like, Oh, I gotta go through bargaining, I gotta go through anger, I gotta go through. Like grief is not linear. There's no timeline, there's no, you know, you know when you're ready to do things. So I really just love that you're sharing this Monisha, because here you are 10 to 11 years after the murder of your brother, and you are reopening this up.

[00:40:41] Maya: But I think there's another lesson here too. You have your own timeline. You have your own grief journey, your own story, and you gotta respect other people's. But I think there's something else here too. You can't run from it because it's gonna come find you.

[00:40:55] Myesha: Absolutely. And you know what? I wouldn't, Hmm. You know what, I, I would, I will be honest and say I probably was running Now that you think So now that, now that I'm sitting here trying to put that into perspective, I probably was. And it, it finally got ahold of me in the most unorthodox way. I was not expecting it and it did, I'm, I'm glad it caught me. I'll say that.

[00:41:18] Maya: So did you go into therapy right after that? You took that class, you were like, okay, it's time for therapy?

[00:41:23] Myesha: After that semester. Yes, I did.

[00:41:24] Maya: So what was your, what was your therapy experience like? If you could just share really quickly, cuz this is something I see a lot in groups where people get defeated when they meet like their therapist for the first time and they're like, Oh, it's not working. Like, tell us a little bit about that and some advice you'd give people who are seeking therapy.

[00:41:40] Myesha: One of the things that I absolutely adore, about the therapist that I had was that my session was my session. Initially, the, the therapist that I wind up sticking with was not the first. I turned some away. Some seemed not connected enough, some seemed too connected. I had to find the right one. And when I found the right one was when she allowed my session to be my session. And anybody who's gone through therapy knows what I'm talking about. It wasn't about anybody else that I mentioned that I put down on the intake form.

[00:42:21] Myesha: She didn't ask questions about friends, family, It, it was all about me. And because she made me the priority, I stuck with it. And my gosh, she was amazing. She give me quote unquote work. If I wasn't feeling it, I, I'm not feeling this. Can you try to give me something else? Or can we talk about this at the next session? Because at the time, I, I didn't want therapy to leave the office. It was my safe space. I wanted what happened in therapy to stay in her office. And so some of the times I refused, like, Can, can I just have 10 minutes of the next session to fill this out? Because I didn't, I didn't wanna take therapy anywhere else. That was the one thing that I felt like I had to myself, and I wanted to keep it that way.

[00:43:09] Maya: I think this is your, again, another great story and there's so much advice in there because I, like I was sharing, I see so many people, I'm sure you've seen this too, that gets so defeated. I went once, it didn't, like I didn't connect, it didn't work out, or it's not gonna, it's not for me. It's kind of like dating, unfortunately. and then also fortunate , right?

[00:43:33] Maya: This is what I tell people, right? This is why I also ask when people wanna openly share on this podcast about their therapy journey, which again, thank you for your vulnerability on here, Myesha. It's been really refreshing and I, I think it is like dating, right? It's like, you know, you wanna go in and like, you wanna have that like, love at first sight, but it doesn't really happen, right?

[00:43:53] Maya: So you gotta give it a couple tries. You gotta give it a couple sessions. Sometimes you do know though, it's like a first date. Sometimes, you know, you go in, it does not feel right. Trust that I, I always say trust that, But when you get, it's worth it cuz when you get the right person, like, oh your therapist sounds incredible.

[00:44:08] Maya: And I've been with mine for a really, really long time and I've actually seen more than one cuz I had to see for complicated grief and things like that. And but that took a couple tries too. So it's, it's tough. But I know like, and you're also like, oh here's the thing too, right? I don't wanna tell my story all over again. I don't wanna do this all over again. And that's so hard.

[00:44:28] Myesha: That was me, but it's worth it. That was me because I got it started, I was at, because it was still fresh and I was talking about it for the first time. Talking about it repeatedly started to get frustrating, but then I realized that I probably had these built up frustrations cuz like you said, I was running, but honestly, if I hadn't, if I wasn't uncomfortable, then I probably wouldn't have gotten to a point where I could be comfortable, if that makes any sense. And I, I found my person, and like you said, it was like, it was like dating, but you know when you have the right one and when you have the right one, you just open. And I did.

[00:45:08] Maya: I, I, I love that too, that you said you were just really uncomfortable until you were comfortable. And I think that's honestly why I was able to tell my story and probably why you're able to sit here and tell your story here today as well. And you've got, you know, saved. So that, that timeline makes perfect sense. Thank you for giving that advice. I think it's so key and it's something that we're seeing a lot of too, right? During the pandemic, so hard to get into therapists and things like that. So our advice from Maya Myesha m and m, stick with it. That's, that's like our Yes. . Yeah. And support groups are huge too. So that's gonna lead me back to SAVED here. So that timeline makes perfect sense that in 2017 you kind of went all in because you were in a different place.

[00:45:51] Myesha: Yeah, it, it allowed me, like, had I not gone through everything that I'd gone through before I started this organization, it probably not, probably it would not have done what I wanted it to do because again, I can't, I can't try to pressure people to go to therapy if I gotta practice what I preach.

[00:46:10] Myesha: When you're in the community and you're doing things to try to better people, and I'm a teacher full time. So I'm fully aware that you have to practice what you preach because one, you never know who's watching and more importantly you don't. You don't ever know who's gonna benefit from your testimony.

[00:46:27] Maya: Yeah, I've learned that . I learned that big time personally. So yes, you tell him Myesha, absolutely. You are so right. You definitely have to like walk the walk and you never know who's gonna benefit and you never know who's like watching and that's in a positive way. This is all positive stuff, so that's great. So tell us a little bit, I wanna ask you one final question, but before that, tell us a little bit about what's next for Saved and how people can get involved in Saved?

[00:46:55] Myesha: So if I'm being completely transparent during the pandemic, I got discouraged. One of the reasons that I got discouraged was because I wasn't reaching as many people as I thought I should. And so I told myself for the five year plan when I came on five years, the next, the fact the plan for the next five years was to rebuild and rebrand. And so that's where I am. I'm currently trying to get a website. I have not, I never stopped doing one of the main things commemorating my brother, that the organization branded was what I call Love Notes to Heaven.

[00:47:34] Myesha: And what that is, is I just, I take a balloon, I write on it, and I release it. It's my note to my brother in heaven. That's how I came up with the name. And it's one of those things, I either do it on his death date, which is September 28th. Or I do it on national Murder victims' Remembrance Day, which is three days before the day he was murdered on September 25th.

[00:48:03] Myesha: Sometimes I do it both days. I did it both days last year. It, it helps. It's, it's the way I release. And I, I, when I do that event, like last year, I did the event alone because I had just moved to Charlotte and I'm the only one here. Actually, I didn't do it alone. I had a friend who was here and he was with me.

[00:48:23] and I try to do it every year because it's my way of staying connected. It has honestly been the way that I've stayed connected to the organization because the event is tied to the organization. And again, my five year, my next five year plan is to rebrand. And, and I'm only looking, I'm only looking to move forward.

[00:48:50] Maya: That's your phrase. And that's, that's what we do. We move forward. Moving on. It's not our phrase moving forward is what we That's right. Well, I will be releasing balloons with you this year, whether it'ss, you know, virtually or however we're gonna do it. But knowing that that's what you do on that date, because we have this in common, we're gonna do it together, Myesha, all of you guys who are going through the, what we're going through, we invite you to do the same. I love that idea. I love that. Okay, so we're gonna do that. I knew it was the 25th. You know, as, as you go through this, you learn all these, you know, they're not exactly holidays you wanna celebrate, but there are days where you can, you know, bring awareness to what happened to your loved one.

[00:49:32] Maya: And, you know, like we said, we could do a other podcast episode about this, but bring awareness to gun violence specifically. couple months back, it was National Gun Violence Awareness Day. And you know, I always wear my orange. I'm sure you do too. Myesha?

[00:49:44] Myesha: I do, yes.

[00:49:46] Maya: So these are all these, you know, things I, you don't really call 'em holidays, but you know, days where of awareness. Right. And they're super important. So we will be doing our balloon messages together and I will definitely keep looking out for save and keep supporting you guys. And I'm so excited to see what you do for the future. And before we close Myesha, I wanna ask you what I ask everyone who comes on here, what, I mean, you shared so much today, and again, thank you for sharing with all of us. But what is something that maybe you haven't shared that you wish you would have known, for some of our newer surviving siblings that unfortunately have gone through a recent loss, that you would've wish you would've known maybe right after you lost Tony, before you know, some, some knowledge or piece of knowledge that you would've given, young Myesha at 21 that wanted to go get her revenge, what would, What piece of advice would you give the listeners?

[00:50:39] Myesha: One of the things that I wish I'd known then, that I know now is that I have a voice and that voice of mine is through nonprofit organizations. I wish that there was someone, and if there probably was, but I just didn't do the research and then I did the research and then there isn't.

[00:51:00] Myesha: But I honestly just wish that I had the nerve and courage and resources to do this a long time ago. I probably could have helped many more people, probably more than I anticipated, but I honestly just, I wish that. It was one of those things like I, I wish I knew how to use my voice. I know I had the questions and the things with the people in the neighborhood and things like that, but I now know that this happens in all neighborhoods.

[00:51:34] Myesha: So just talking to people in my neighborhood probably was very small minded of me, but it was all I knew. I know better now, there's a whole wide world of people who have experienced losing their siblings to homicide, and if it's one thing, like I said, if it's one thing I wish I'd known then is that I have, I have a voice when it comes to being passionate about this kind of thing.

[00:51:58] Myesha: I hate that we have gone through this and I personally identify us as the forgotten grievers. Because of course my mom had support everybody checking on my mom. She had lost her son, her only son. And I unselfishly supported the fact that she was getting all of this support. But I often wondered where was mine? And when I started the organization, that was when, when I knew that there had to, there had to be some support for us. Cause I didn't have any other siblings to share this experience with. And so I didn't expect anybody else to understand because they hadn't gone through it. But now, like I said, I know that there are people out there who have gone through what I'm going through, what we are going through. And I'm proud. I'm, I'm extremely proud of the fact that I am encouraging people to heal. That you are encouraging people to speak it. It's an amazing thing. It's, it's, it's an amazing thing. Sorry.

[00:53:05] Maya: You don't ever have to apologize on the podcast . Not to me. And I agree with you. I think that's just so incredible and well said. And I think it's important for us to realize that we're not alone and you know, I agree. We are the forgotten mourners guys for sure. And I wish I knew that too. I wish I knew that. I wasn't alone because I felt alone for a very long time. And then when I started in my fifth year to join these communities and really, . and then obviously when I put the podcast out, I knew, okay, I'm really not alone anymore.

[00:53:38] Maya: And it's a, it's a mixed feeling, right? It's good to know that you're not alone, but you're like, Oh my God, I can't believe there's so many people, right? It's so horrible. So many other people going through this, right? but I'm proud of you too, Myesha, and I wanna thank you so much for, again, just being so vulnerable because I know how difficult it is to share all of these stories, but, homicide and suicide are really, really difficult to share.

[00:54:00] Maya: And so I wanna thank you for that. And I really think that Tony's here with you today telling this story with you. And I agree. I think we are the forgotten mourns, and I think you're gonna do a lot in supporting siblings, and that's my goal, right? Is to be here to support you and everybody listening. So, thank you so much for being here today. I really appreciate it.

[00:54:22] Myesha: And again, thank, thank you for this platform. I, I can say it a thousand times more and it won't be enough. , thank you so much for this platform because some people probably don't know that they have this outlet and to all of the forgotten grievers out there, just, just know that one of the things, if I can leave you with anything, is that you'll heal, but just do it on your own time.

[00:54:53] Maya: I love that. I totally agree. And one last thing, Myesha, if they wanna connect with you, where are you comfortable, with people connecting with you on social media? Where is best?

[00:55:02] Myesha: We, we have a, Instagram. It's saved saved_dmv.

[00:55:08] Maya: Perfect. And I'm following her as well, so you can find it through my profile and we'll tag it in the show notes. Thank you again for being here, Myesha. This was awesome.

[00:55:16] Myesha: Thank you, Maya. So,

[00:55:18] Maya: Thank you so much for listening to the Surviving Siblings Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode as much as I did creating it for you, then share it on your chosen social media platform. And don't forget to tag us at Surviving Siblings Podcast so that more surviving siblings can find us.

[00:55:37] Maya: Remember to rate, review and subscribe to the podcast. And don't forget to follow us on all social media platforms. We're on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok at Surviving Siblings Podcast. All links can be found in the show notes, so be sure to check those out too. Thank you again for the support. Until the next episode, keep on surviving my surviving siblings.


Myesha StokesProfile Photo

Myesha Stokes