This post is going to be a bit of a departure from my regular posts. So if you are just here for the clothes and the makeup and the fun, proceed with caution. Today, we’re talking about death.
This past week, I lost a dear friend and a great aunt. I attended two funeral services in 24 hours. I’m not going to lie; it broke me. I spent the last four days feeling like my heart had been stomped on. I’ve cried all the tears in my head, and raged against a cruel God that has caused me to suffer so much. I grieved in a way I haven’t grieved in a long time.
Fortunately, I am blessed with many loving people in my life. I was texting with my BFF about stuff, and very honestly told her that I wasn’t sure why I was hurting this much. She reminded me that DEATH ADDS UP. And that I have known more loss and more death than anyone she has known.
That got me to thinking; how many people have I loved and lost? I am so lucky to have a giant family and a large circle of friends, but that comes with a price. It means more people die. I lost two close friends in high school, countless great aunts and uncles (I’d say at least ten at this point), my dearest friend and stand-in big brother, my father, my step-dad, my step-grandmother, two out of my three Uncle Johns, and my grandfather on my dad’s side. And that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head.
When I look at that list, I want to give me a hug. DEATH ADDS UP. Every single loss is another little scar; another wound that may heal, but will always be tender. My soul is full of tender spots, each one reminding me of someone that touched my life, and is no longer with me. And that kind of pain never really goes away. It may not bother you every minute of every day, but you never know when it’s going to pop up to remind you of what you lost.
Losing my friend Steven has reminded me of the fragility of life. He was only 28 years old, and should have been here for so much longer. But now he’s gone, and my heart is a little more empty. He is a reminder that we don’t know when our time will be up. We don’t know how long we have with the people we care about. So we have to tell them we love them and cherish them every chance we get. You never know when you won’t have any more chances.
Losing my Tia Sophie broke my heart. She lived a long and full life, and she passed peacefully and surrounded by her loved ones. But it reminds me of the mortality of my grandparents. I grew up living with them when I was younger, and literally cannot imagine my life without them. My brain cannot comprehend the thought of losing either of them. After my grandpa’s heart attack and surgery at the end of last year, I was faced with the fact that they are definitely old, and that big health things are now truly life-threatening. Seeing my grandma lose her sister (she only has two sisters left) breaks my heart for her, and makes me worry about her even more.
I miss my friends and loved ones every single day. Getting married without my friend Morgan there to be with me and do big-brother duty was heart-wrenching. Planning my wedding knowing I wouldn’t have a dad to walk me down the aisle brought me to tears many times. Every time I write a blog post, my heart aches a little for the step-grandmother/retired English teacher that taught me the importance of grammar, and reverence for the written word. Thunderstorms remind me of my high school friend Darren and his desire to chase crazy storms in his tiny little VW Cabriolet. Cute boys and Doc Martens will always remind me of Stephanie, with her mad style and long list of crushes. Luby’s, Bingo, and the color purple will always remind me of my Tia Esther. She and my grandma would go out shopping (with my sister and I in tow) and we’d go to Luby’s for lunch where they would fight over the bill. She and my grandma were Bingo fanatics, and we still go to the same place in her honor. She knew I loved the color purple, and would always get me little purple gifts and call me her purple cheerleader. My mom’s cousins played Because You Loved Me by Celine Dion at the rosary for my Tio Manuel, and I always get a little teary when I hear that song. Even something as little as eating cashews reminds me of my Grandpa B that I didn’t have nearly enough time with.
My life is full of small reminders of the many people I have lost. Sometimes, like right now, it feels like too much to handle. It feels like there is no more space in my heart for more scars and more loss. But I will keep on loving people. I will keep my family and friends close, and I will keep opening my heart to new people. It’s the only thing that keeps the pain and the sadness at bay. The reminder that there is still love in my life give me so much joy. And yes, I realize it means that one day I will have to say goodbye to those people. But I don’t mind.