I will never forget hearing the phone ring. It was early. I was sleeping in the living room because all of the bedrooms were taken.
I knew. I smiled. Not out of happiness, but in defense. Smiling is the socially inappropriate thing I do when I feel the first wave of grief.
I knew, I knew. I curled into a ball and turned my back to her, pretending to be asleep. Bracing. Preparing for her reaction. I heard her slippers shuffle hesitantly on the carpet as she walked to the phone.
It spread from her like an earthquake. She was the epicenter.
Her voice quivering. “When? What? What?”
I couldn’t look, not yet. I heard them all, my mother, my grandmother and my aunt. Their wailing shook my core. I peeked around the corner, they were huddled on my grandmother’s bed, rocking back and forth.
It was then, I realized they had no control.
I knew, I knew he was dead.
Their father, the love of her life was gone and I had the privilege of watching them mourn. I stayed hidden for a while. Not because I was afraid, I wanted to be invisible to watch what happened without being mixed in it.
I was nine at the time, if you’re wondering.
They were all numb, numb and inconsolable.
An hour later, I stood in the kitchen, just a few feet from where she sat. She looked up at me, like a puppet being manipulated. Her voice was flat,
“Your grandpa is dead.”
I stood there in plain sight, unseen by grief’s blinding might. She went back to doing what her routine demanded.
She ate her oatmeal as she did every day, but today she looked empty, yet aching. It was clear, no morphine could save her.
Amidst my own sadness, I remember thinking, “I hope I know a love like that.”—A love that destroys me when it’s gone.
Grief doesn’t discriminate, no matter what your education, background or belief is. When the person we love the very most in this world leaves, the grief left with us can be so fierce we feel insane.
True love lives. It’s not illusive, like we think.
It comes to those who follow their gut, those who share their erupting feelings. Sometimes it happens early or later in life. One just has to believe. Do not give up.
How do I know? I’ve witnessed what happens when someone I love loses their soul’s best friend over and over again, although I have yet to experience it myself.
I know what I want and it is this—I want a love like that, even though I will be struck by death’s aftermath.
A Love Like That
Death of any kind
Grief tailing behind
On his knees
Undulating up and down
Up and down
Homeless and suffering
People become our place
And when they go?
We feel abandoned
I’m a fool for thinking I had, I owned
Everything I thought I knew is no more
I disbelieve now,
You stole it away
The ruler of fate.
Spiral out of control
Understanding we had none at all.
This realization begins
Like a hungry little child, we beg
Why, why, why?
This is the plea, the question.
What is this body?
And where did the one go?
The one to which, I surrendered my soul.
A living, breathing, beating human being
With a fragile, fragile mortality.
An existential quandary
To touch the real
A need to feel
To attach to another
That’s where we are safest, under their cover.
Love, love, oh so sweet
Then it leaves,
There are no walls anymore
We are left a pile of bones
We can’t ignore,
What we are here for—
To know love and pain
And the love that lifts us up
Back to life
And we love time and time and time again
Only to learn the same —
Grief awaits us in every breath
We are meant to endure loss
With no explanation
No one can save us from this hell
There is no fix
No religious creed or intelligence
There are only two things that help us mend
That’s love and time,
The greatest healers.
Grief does us, not the other way ‘round
We have no authority over nature
Forced to bow down
To the power that overtakes
When our haven escapes
There is a glory here we can not see
We are grieving, shared divinity
Which exists when two humans
Connect to the root of the root
Their hearts intertwine
The world goes mute.
To grieve is to proclaim a love so deep
That few have the privilege of knowing
Because most are asleep
I yearn for the day I’m on the floor
All because my true love is no longer
Those who have experienced this loss
In my eyes,
Are the blessed.
Though at first, it’s excruciating
Day and night, time and space
They fade away
Leaving a wake
For the one still here
It becomes a life, unrecognized.
It’s like being dead but with pain
Anguish, love’s lasting symptom untamed.
But listen, shhhh…
The Angels surround
“It wasn’t for nothing–
Don’t you see?
I am you, you are me”
We can’t hear them, not right now
With the sound of blistering
Unprepared for this terrain,
I hear it said, love is a risk
There’s no risk at all
This is how life is meant to be.
It’s an absolute, a fact
Your love or your life
Death will attack,
Left with a void
The suffocating panic,
What to do next?
All we can do is take a step
When living stops making sense
We deny love too
But the love never left
And its power over you
The Angels say,
This is a welcomed theft
Then, love floods back in
To help protect
As we do our job
And drop to our knees
Turns to peace
The more we grieve
The more we love–
The love we lost
And the love,
Although life will never be the same
This grief will become a memory
You will reflect, one day
I was the lucky one,
To know a love like that,
Your brave healed heart will say.