I’m going to preface this by saying that this post is a pretty big downer and it’s pretty much written the way I am thinking right now. So, if you want to stay in a good mood, I might recommend saving this post for another day.
Yesterday, I found out a friend of mine passed away after a weeklong battle against a blood transfusion that didn’t go as anticipated. My friend, Jason, was 29 years old and if you had spent any time with him in the weeks preceding his surgery, you wouldn’t have known that he was dealing with a rather serious lung problem. He was absolutely hysterical, outgoing and a total geek (which wins you big points in my book). It was a friendship that had just begun and I am deeply saddened that it was cut short so soon.
It’s had me thinking a lot about how I cope with death, since I dealt with another tragic death earlier this year. Before these two exceptional young men died, I had only dealt with death as a result of old age. And even then, only a few times.
I found out from my friend, LeVar yesterday, and after getting off the phone with him, I talked to my mom for a while. When I got off the phone, I laid in bed, in a state of shock for a while.
Then I got up and started doing the dishes. About halfway through, I stopped and thought to myself, “Why the fuck am I doing dishes? A friend of mine is dead. Shouldn’t time stop for a while?” And the truth is, time doesn’t stop, and the world keeps on moving in the direction it always has.
I felt guilty for doing chores, for smiling, for breathing. In fact, part of me still feels guilty for being ale to get up and come to work today.
The death of an elderly person and the death of a peer are two very different experiences. While both are very sad, death is sort of a natural part of getting old. At some point, we do all die, and when one of our grandparents, or even parents, die, we accept I as a part of life.
But when someone my age dies, not a single cell in my body wants to accept it. For someone to die at 29 is wholly unnatural and, as cliché as it may sound, utterly unfair. And while I don’t believe in there being a higher purpose or a reason for these tragedies to happen, part of me wants something to explain why this person had to leave so soon and why I get to keep on living. There has to be a reason why someone so young doesn’t get to continue to make the most of their promising life. But, unfortunately, we don’t get those answers.
And when I can’t get answers to question, I have a tough time moving forward. It has happened in many aspects of my life. I just do not like to have unknowns in my life.
Here’s something thing that bothers me about the way I deal with grief: No one but my dog will see me cry. I know that tears are a perfectly natural response to the loss of a loved one and, sometimes, I even try to force them so that people will think I’m “normal.” But the fact is, that my sadness is so personal and my need to appear strong in the face of adversity is so overwhelming, that I can’t actually share my grief with anyone.
What bothers me more is I feel like I don’t even cry enough when I’m alone. Instead, I sit and I stare and I think. I think about every interaction. I think about every word, every movement that that person made when we were around each other. I try desperately to link myself with that person. To burn their memory into my brain permanently because our memories are the one place our friends and family live on after they pass away.
I become very introspective. What I’m writing here is only a teensy little part of what I think about went I mourn a death. I think about family, about friendship, about time running out, about life, about religion, about legacy. Then I try and make myself cry. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t.
I want to find a way to honor my friend, Jason. I want to find a way for me to send him a message letting him know how many people’s lives he touched and how lucky I was to get to know him a little before he left. And I think most of us that knew him feel the same way.
Except, he doesn’t get to see all of the beautiful things people say about him. He’s not here anymore. We get to see all the amazing messages friends share and it makes us feel less alone. It makes me feel weird to know I’m sharing my feelings to make myself feel better and maybe some other friends feel better. There’s nothing we can do to make him feel better and that’s where the real sadness lies. For me at least.
I have no idea how to “properly” end this post, so I’m just going to go with what actions death makes me take.
Death makes me realize what a gift our life is. Not only our life, but also the lives of all of the wonderful, amazing friends around us. And not only should we not take OUR lives for granted, we should also never take our friends’ lives for granted. Death makes me cherish and appreciate all of the friends that surround me each and every day. And I think honoring someone while their still alive, while they can still appreciate our love and our loyalty, that’s the best gift we can give someone before their death. To let someone go truly knowing how value they were and how much they will be missed.