You see them, falling to the ground, kneeling in the gravel. And there’s noise all around, but the ringing is somehow breathtakingly silent. The people around you that are the strongest become the weakest. You don’t realize it fully in that moment, but, they can’t take care of you anymore, it’s your turn now to take care of them. You never imagined it to come so soon. And like this.
Grief, something you have never known before somehow becomes something you will know like the back of your hand for the rest of your life. It becomes a look on your family members face that you can recognize instantly. A drooping mouth, or far-away gaze lets you know that they’re thinking about him.
Depression, it’s a hollowness you know all too well, because you too have experienced it. You’ve seen those features in your own mirror, in the bathroom, in the car, in the middle of a night out when something reminds you of him, and you thought you were okay, but you’re not okay. But you have to be, right? For them. For the ones that you have to take care of now. That you have to be strong for. For the little girl who was three at the time, but just celebrated her first double digit birthday. For the grandparents that have and will be your favorite people on the planet, forever. And for your mom, who you know is playing the same strong game, but, has lost every ounce of faith, and can’t quit asking God why.
Seven years, that’s how long it’s been since the ringing. The call. The moment we all changed. “It gets easier with time,” that’s the way the saying goes. But, I don’t know. It seems to intensify for me. We move on, sure, because we have to. But as the years pass, as I age, my responsibility to take care of everyone, it grows. The understanding of hurt, it’s become clearer, and therefore, I go through the process of it, again and again, with some hope that this time I’ll find the answer for us all. But, there is no answer, and that’s what keeps us here, stuck. There has to be a lesson, or a purpose, something.
I’m laying here in bed at 5am, thinking not only about this day 7 years ago, losing my uncle, but also about my friends suffering loss in present time. The sting of grief is fresh for them. The ringing just started. Suddenly I’m their counselor, their stability, their late night message for help. I have to be strong for them too.
Grief, it’s a vicious cycle. It’s a daily reminder that we just have to be here for each other. Even when times are tough. Even when we don’t think we can. It asks us the question, were we there for them enough? Those that we’ve lost. Suddenly the memories start flying, conversations arise, stories are told, and we remember how great they were. Those are the things we have to remember, so we can survive.
Again, we have to be there for each other, no matter what. We have to say I love you, I miss you, I need you, I hear you, I see you, any time we think or feel it.
The day he left, I vividly remember him walking out the door, I remember the urge I had to hug him and tell him I loved him. We aren’t really the hugging, affectionate type of family, so, that would just be weird. I actually remember thinking that, that it would be weird, to hug my uncle goodbye. I wish I would have. That I would have known it’d be my last chance. Maybe it would have saved him. But, I also know that he knew I loved him, our bond was strong, and that’s the part I have to hang on to. That’s the part I have to remind my struggling friends and family of. When the regrets or things we didn’t do, words we didn’t say become too strong, we have to shut them down and cover them with all the things we did say and do, the laughs and good times. That’s what keeps us going.
Grief and depression, they can sneak in and steal us if we are not careful. But, we have to be strong, not just for all of those that we want and need to take care of, but for ourselves.
We can’t cover hurt with hurt and expect a better outcome. Find someone to talk to. Find someone to be there for you. Talk to someone, be there for someone. For the love and life of this world, let’s take care of each other. Let’s stop being afraid to love each other. Love hard and without apology, out loud.
Let’s be better than okay.