Death was something I was always aware of. He was no stranger to me or my family.
My mother lost her father at a young age. Even though this happened well before my time, that’s the first recollection I have of death.
When I was a small child (maybe five or six) I had a family friend who lost her mother to cancer. I could grasp that something wasn’t right while we were at the funeral. She, in turn, was just running around the funeral home, playing. I remember looking at her and thinking,
“Why does she seem ok?”
This woman, lying in a coffin, wasn’t my mother. I had no attachment to her. Even then, I understood that something wasn’t right.
Years later, as a sophomore in high school, I was having a late night working on homework. As any adolescent, I got distracted and I got bored. Since I was already using the internet to work on the laptop, I decided to google search my own name.
Sometimes I wish I hadn’t.
My grandpa’s obituary was a top result.
To add context, this was my favorite grandpa, on my biological father’s side. My grandpa that I hadn’t seen in years, due to me cutting ties with my biological “father”.
I understand I didn’t stay in contact with the paternal side of my family, but they at least could have notified me of my grandpa’s passing.
When I came across this information, it was maybe 12 or one at night. I was the only one awake. I didn’t want to wake up my parents. I didn’t want a scene to be made.
I cried to myself. I cried by myself. I cried and I cried.
Then I got back to work. I had to. I was supposed to be working on homework before I got my heart broken.
For some reason, I didn’t really feel like I could go and tell my mom about this. I felt like I needed to hide my feelings (suppressing my feelings wasn’t something new).
Death, then came again, to take away my great grandma.
I couldn’t even grieve her properly because she had left to Mexico to die in her home.
I had been asleep when my mom came to let me know my grandma passed, and that she was leaving to Mexico for the funeral.
I had school, so I suppose it was natural that I stayed.
I got up and I went to take a shower.
In the shower, I cried and I sobbed. I got out, got dressed, put on my game face, and continued with my day.
Now I had two grandparents I would never properly be able to grieve.
I would always carry this heartache with me.
Years later, when things felt fine and dandy, death would come strolling through once more.
I was under the impression that everything in my life was falling in line. I had just graduated college, got my first adult job, and I had found my person.
Suddenly, like a rug, everything was pulled from under my feet.
He was gone. Taken from this life.
M’s death was not only sudden, it was unexpected and tragic. It wasn’t supposed to happen. He was young, he was smart, and he had his whole life ahead of him. Then it was cut off and stolen.
Death had made it’s acquaintance with me once again. Except this time, he had stabbed in my heart.
I had never really known what it meant to grieve or how to grieve. People crying in front of me always made me uncomfortable. Now I was under the microscope with the expectations of weeping and sobbing in front of everyone. My mind had gone blank and my heart had stopped. I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know how to reason or cope.
It wasn’t until the burial that it slapped me in the face that I would never see M again. As the dirt was being poured, I found myself sobbing and yelling. My emotions had taken over and rationality had walked out of the building. In the days that followed, I found myself drinking myself to sleep, finishing maybe one or two bottles of wine. Sometimes I would just come home and sleep, cutting myself off from the world.
I honestly didn’t know how to process my feelings or my grief.
To this day, it’s fair to say that I am still learning.
And death? He’s stayed near, even if through second degree connections.