The Money Diaries is a series of stories featuring young people from Oakland and their relationships with money. Jabari Omari is a high school senior. For Omari, leaving high school comes with an emotional burden few young people have to face. His mother died after a stroke several years ago. In her will, she left him insurance money – but he can’t access it until he’s 21. So until then, he’s applying for college scholarships, and trying to figure out how to become an adult on his own.
JABARI OMARI: Hey, it’s Jabari Omari, and it is Thursday at five o’six. Just up, getting ready for school. I am about to leave um, like close to six. I’m just here scrambling, updating my iPod, find a song that I want to listen to.
I live in San Leandro with my brother. He is 25, and he does act like a parent figure to me, he stepped in when he needed to and I appreciate that.
I live in San Leandro but I go to school in Oakland.
I have to commute to school for about two point five hours on bus just to get there on time.
So, close to the last two months of my freshman year, my mother passed away. I was devastated, I was hurt, I wasn’t really able to believe what was going on at the time. I had dreams leading up to that, I had nightmares of her being harmed, and I felt that that was a way that God was letting me know I need to be getting closer to my mother. I found out the hard way what those dreams meant: my mother’s no longer here with me. That this is your time to grow up and learn how to be independent and not be attached. Because I was a momma’s boy. I was in so much pain.
You feel, you feel alone. Even though people have your back, they care for you, they look out for you. Just to wake up and never see her again, or only see her in dreams or in a picture. It hurts. It hurts so much.
In her will, that my mother left, she said that the insurance money would go to me.
For me to get this money, it’s… most people think of it as 'Oh you’re getting money, go ahead and spend it, but also save it.' But I don’t think of it as a really good thing to be happy about, because it came at a cost.
For me to get this insurance money, it cost me my mother. And most people say, you know, don’t feel that way, but I would not be getting this money if she was still alive. I would still have her presence, her smile, and her love. I don’t have the same look on how everything is anymore.
I’ve been to trying to financially support myself, so I can do great things. I’m recently going to graduate soon, and I have to ask my brother, can he pay for my cap and gown, my tassel, senior pictures, senior class ring, senior trip and all these expenses. I feel like I’m freeloading when I should be playing my part.
Even though I’ve only been 18 for a while, I know it comes with challenges. Personally I would like to choose to stand on my own two feet and be a man about my business and live life the way my mother would have wanted me to live it. Not cradled up and bitter and sad all the time, but grown up, mature, working, living on my own, and making my other siblings and family proud.
Click the audio player above to listen to the story.
This story was produced by Lisa Morehouse and Game Theory Academy, a financial education program for young adults.