Growing up, Alice Mitchell was always close with her mother, Rosemary Owolabi. But when Alice was fourteen years old, Rosemary died suddenly and unexpectedly from cardiac arrest. While the family was grieving an immeasurable loss, they were also figuring out how to embrace new life: two weeks before Rosemary died, she had given birth to her youngest son, Ibukun.
Over the next few years, Alice, who was the eldest of five siblings, took on a more parental role, especially when it came to Ibukun. Still, she always wanted to make sure he knew exactly where he came from. The family shared photos and stories, but when Ibukun was ten, he and Alice sat down for their first in-depth conversation about their mother.
Today, Ibukun is a freshman in high school. He’s into Tik Tok and podcasts about basketball, but the thing he’s most excited about is being a new uncle. Earlier this year, Alice and her husband Garry welcomed their first child into the world — Everly Rose, named after Rosemary. And just like Alice helped raise Ibukun, Ibukun is now helping raise the next generation of their family.
For more about Alice and Ibukun, check out an animated version of their story, created in partnership with the New York Life Foundation for our project Road to Resilience: Memories that Move Us Forward; which leverages the power of stories and storytelling to help children cope with the death of a parent, sibling, or loved one.
Top photo: Artwork by Lindsay Mound.
Second Photo: Rosemary Owolabi holding Ibukun soon after he was born in September of 2005. Photo courtesy of the Owolabi family.
Third Photo: Alice Mitchell and Ibukun Owolabi at their StoryCorps interview in New York, NY. Photo by Alletta Cooper for StoryCorps.
Bottom Photo: Garry Mitchell, Everly Rose Mitchell, Alice Mitchell, and Ibukun Owolabi in Cambridge, MA. Photo Courtesy of Garry Mitchell.
Released on December 15, 2020.