This morning I woke up feeling exactly as I did last year on December 6. Cold, weak, shaking, scared, sad, sad and sad. I did not want to get out of bed, but I did. Thank you to all of you who kept me on my feet, who made me eat, who went out of your way completely to make my life a little easier last year. The last couple of weeks have been unbearable at times, between the anniversary of his passing, the day we found out he had passed, the burial. Death is like nothing else in life. It tugs at the weakest part of you and wrings it and bangs it and breaks it to pieces. On this day last year, I watched a man I had once loved put into the earth. The disbelief was the only thing that surpassed the shock. How can you possibly put him in the ground? I asked myself out loud. HOW CAN THIS NOT BE A DREAM? My people told me to be strong, so I sobbed instead of screaming the way I wanted to. I shook and rocked and balled like a baby. My face took shapes I never knew it could. “So you mean I’ll never see him again?!” “I’ll never see him again,” I wailed. Never mind that in the weeks before I had called him every bad name in the book as we planned our separation. Never mind that I had regretted every moment of our relationship in retrospect after finding out the most unpleasant truths. I spent three months in shock after learning that my husband had deceived me. Surprisingly, as strong as I thought I was, my body and mind went into shock. I couldn’t fathom eating normally, I was narrowly able to parent my child. I felt like broken pieces. So I mustered the strength to put those pieces together and they were starting to come together when I found out he had passed. The circumstances surrounding his sudden passing were as troubling as his death. So I was another bag of pieces. The pieces from the first shock were broken again into smaller pieces. I yelled at my brother, “STOP THE CAR” as I tried to assimilate what I was hearing on the phone. The world seemed to be moving too fast, I needed to be still. I called my mother, she cried. That was the first time I cried. The hardest times for my being were the times I had to utter the words to inform others. My people called from everywhere. It was just the meanest dream. Here I was preparing to move on, him preparing to move on, us actually getting along a little better. What a cruel joke, I thought. It can not be that my daughter will not have her father, it is impossible. I remembered then how much I’d loved him.
I remember looking out of the car window when they were taking his casket from the car to the grave. I was genuinely puzzled as the reality hit me like a ton of bricks. This is it. You mean you’re actually going to put him in the ground… I’m not going to see him again… How can this be, I searched myself for answers. One of my friends when she found out recalled how she had just seen him at an event we went to playing joyfully with our daughter. That was the last time many of our friends had seen us all together. One of the strangest things about death is assimilating how someone could be here one moment–I mean you can see them, touch them, kiss them, yell at them–and then in another moment, they just don’t exist any more. They’re just not here. But the world keeps moving. And you want to shout, OMG HOW CAN YOU ALL KEEP MOVING? DON’T YOU KNOW THIS PERSON IS NO LONGER HERE??? WE ALL NEED TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THIS PERSON WHO IS VERY IMPORTANT TO ME JUST *DIED*! But everyone feels that way. You remember then that you’re not the only person who’s ever lost a loved one. And you look around and try to comprehend how they kept on living. How they were able to smile again. How they went back to working, parenting, living, laughing. And you realize it can be done, must be done.
I attribute my survival to my faith. After the first shock I was the church three days a week and twice on Sunday chick. I read my bible and every spiritual guidance I could find. I grounded myself again in the understanding of God and God’s infinite love. So when the second shock happened, those broken pieces that had come back together, they fell on solid ground when they fell apart again. I wrote my book. I edited it. It was the gentlest work I could possibly have done at that time. Reading old poems about love and loss and empowerment. I cried in the library, I cried on the street. I cried any time I felt like it. My best friend had come and given me permission to do that. To take a cry break if I needed one. I remember sitting in the company of jovial people and the picture from the mortuary crossing my mind. Me trying to piece together his possible last moments. Me asking God why. She also gave me permission to be selfish, which I reluctantly took. Considering the emotional violence I endured from those who were on his side of the breakup, permission to mourn was what I needed the most. And she gave me that too. Then she told me when she left that she didn’t know if she had been of use. Lol. Of use I can never measure.
Thank God and my family that they were able to care for my daughter while I found my way to stand up again. But I had to go right back to “functioning” when it was time to take her back. I thank God for my friends in New York, who literally held me up through it all. Who constantly checked on me, who PRAYED for me, who just gave me love and company. Healing and growing is always a journey. If you’ve suffered an emotional trauma, I strongly suggest you dance, you scream, you write, you talk, you jump up and down, you break things, you tell yourself the TRUTH about what you are feeling and you will be shocked at how strong and how amazing you didn’t know you are. Peace, Light, (original) Bible grease.