I’ve been thinking about grief today, about my mentors and friends, idols, that I lost this past year. A friend of mine lost her boyfriend a few weeks ago, the love of her life, and seeing her openly grieve has refreshed for me these feelings of loss and brought up so many memories.
Grief is a universal experience. We all grieve, mourn, feel loss. Grief is such a tricky thing. Years go by and I think I am over someone’s death, rarely think about them anymore, then BAM. It returns. I am grateful I was holding my grandpa’s hand when he died. He was my father figure in life. I miss him so much, and I’ve had 15 years.I will never get used to not being able to call him to check in, and I still have his house telephone number memorized.
I used to have a post up on here about my former boyfriend Tony and how he was murdered. It was deleted when I nuked my whole blog three years ago. Sometimes I think I might re-write it, but so far I haven’t undertaken that task. Whenever I hear bagpipes I think about him, and other odd little moments, like when I am strumming my guitar. Tony played guitar, too, but he was more of an electric guitar kinda guy.
It’s odd, the things that stick with you. I remember the phone call telling me that Tony was dead. I was so confused, I kept thinking he was talking about this other Tony we knew. It didn’t feel real at all. Then I remember being at his funeral, all by myself, crying my eyes out. I remember how his mother had brought these little Scottish flag pins for everyone to take home, and how fake the pictures of Tony that were strewn about looked. I often wonder about his mother, and hope she is well. I cannot imagine losing my daughter. Actually, my mind takes me to these morbid places often where she dies, and it is usually my fault. Thankfully my meds keep most of these thoughts at bay, but they still surface.
It’s been too long since I’ve been back to Houston. The last time I was there, I stopped by my friend Leigh’s ghost bike. She was tragically killed on her bicycle by two (!) fire trucks. Leigh and I were in theatre production together, and though we had grown apart, I miss her so. We were roommates on a trip to New York City that we all took one year with our dance teacher Ms. Roberts.
I think about my friend Phil, who took his own life over Christmas a few years ago. A few months later, his ex-girlfriend and my friend, Cara, killed herself, too. Her death affected so many people I know, and still does. Now my friend Michelle organizes art shows in Cara’s memory. But Cara is gone, and I will never see her sarcastic smile again in life.
My freshman year of high school, I had just moved back to Houston and one of the few people that I had talked to was a boy named Travis, who had blue and green hair. I liked him immediately. He had already heard of me due to my purple hair dye/Barney incident. It was only a few months into the school year when he was playing with a gun with some of our friends. It went off, and he was killed instantly. I’m not sure why I was in class that day and they weren’t, because I normally skipped school when most others did, but I am grateful that I was not there. I remember the grief counselors coming to our school for a few days to talk to everyone that knew Travis. I thought they were lame, so I didn’t go.
Everyone handles grief differently. Grief is slippery, sticky, tricky. There is no one way to grieve. When I was singing with the women’s chorus, one of my friends Alissa ended her own life. At the time I thought people were being fake over her death, and now I only see how shocked and hurt everyone was, and how guilty they felt. We all felt guilty. If we had talked to her more, included her more, would she be alive? These thoughts are not productive.
Suicide happens. People succumb to their illnesses, or grow weary of the pain. I can understand how the endless quiet is preferable to daily torment. When the pain gets to be too great, people will do anything to stop it.
My mother is very ill, and in California they recently signed into law the assisted suicide stuff. She has spoken to me frankly about killing herself if the pain gets worse, or having a doctor help her. Thankfully she is no longer in that head space, and has been doing much better the last few months.
Living is challenging. Making money to live is challenging. Living without love is challenging. So many people live lives of perpetual loneliness and pain. If we all responded to situations with kindness and heart, we could really change people’s lives. Mr. Rogers always said to look for the helpers in the face of tragedy, and I do this routinely. There are always more helpers than villains.
We are inundated with media that profits from death. Tragedies happen every day, and they seem to get the majority of the media attention. I haven’t been able to watch the news since I had my daughter. The stories are so sad and gruesome, they take me into very bad mental places and keep me depressed. But for every tragedy, there is a spiderweb effect of kindness that becomes active. People volunteer, send money, do their best to comfort or give opportunities to the survivors.
I think sometimes it takes a tragedy to find out how much people really love you. It is sad, and I think we should all know how much we are loved in the absence of tragedy. But people get busy, distracted, don’t communicate well. Years go by and friendships don’t dry up exactly, but they become forgotten and wither. Life is so short, so precious. Pick up your phone and text your friends. Email them. Maybe not call them if they’re introverted like me and can’t handle talking on the phone. But you know what I mean.
I’d give just about anything for one more day with my grandfather. I know he knew how much I loved him. I am secure in that. But I will never stop missing him. He was so big and strong, charming and charismatic, full of life and vigor.. until he wasn’t. He became frail so fast. By the time he got pneumonia and congestive heart failure, he had been dragging an oxygen tank around him for over a year. His diabetes was acting up, and all at once, he started to shrink. The same thing happened to my grandmother when she became frail. I miss her so much, too. My grandmother was such a classy lady, and so sweet. My grandfather would have done anything to protect her, and did.
I hope someday to have the kind of love my grandparents had. But I am content having my daughter and my friends. I am guilty of not contacting my friends for long periods of time as I drift in and out of depression. I hope to do better, and always have the best intentions. So know that I love you. I will fight for my life every day for my daughter. She is the reason I am still here, her, and all of you. Thank you for being in my life, and for reading.