How do you console a teenager when they lose a teammate who has become a friend? Who is young and has a little girl who will never know her? And how do you explain the media? And how do you tell them that people don't accept open mourning and have a set amount of time for it?????
That is what has been weighing heavy on my mind. It is hard enough consoling anyone for the loss of someone. "I'm sorry", is what is so often said, but is said so much that you begin to think, I don't want to hear I'm sorry again.
I have lost some people close to me in my life. The first when I was around 16. He was a priest at my church and a family friend who I knew a long time. It was a hard loss to face, but the consolation was that somehow we thought he knew he was going to die and he accepted it. He had once said it would be an honor to die on the same day as Jesus, which is when he died. It was Good Friday. We thought he knew because Fr. Dom had placed Easter Baskets out for everyone that night, as if to say, "I am fine with this, and you will be too." It was the first real loss because I saw Fr. Dom all the time when working at the rectory answering phones and after Mass on Sunday. He always had a bunch of animals outside the rectory and would go to the farms in Jersey and get left over corn and tomatoes and give them out to the parishioners who were falling on hard times. He had glasses that had had a crack in them for years, but he felt no need to replace them because he could still see through them fine. He represented a true priest always giving and doing for others and he could always brighten a room with his smile and laughter. It was a hard time, but the pain has lessened with the years and it is often that I remember him and continue to admire him for his goodness.
The other losses were my grandmothers. They both became ill at the same time. One in Miami and one in Jersey. My grandmother on my father's side was in Miami. She was the person who always believed in me and encouraged me and she was often in my mind as I was near the end of receiving my AA, and my BA and now my Master's, which she did not live to see, but I wore her pins and her watch that she received when she earned her Master's Degree and I cried those days because she did not live to see them. She also passed her love of painting onto me, which I still have today.
My grandmother on my mother's side was in Jersey. She was a strong woman, who taught me the importance of family and loving with all your heart. She instilled in me a joy of meeting people and enjoying friends. Memories of talks with her and her radio that she would sing to in her kitchen. Memories of going to Diners (her favorite for eating) and walking to Wood Avenue come to me often.
It was difficult to see these two strong women as they became weak and could no longer bare the pain. Feelings that every person experiences when they are torn between selfishly wanting their loved ones to stay here with them while at the same time asking for mercy and freedom from the pain. When they do pass on we expect it to be ok. We are ready. We have mourned them already when they became ill, but we find there is nothing that prepares you, nothing that can make it ok right away, because we feel the loss and the emptiness and the sorrow that takes us longer than we care to admit to get used to. We never get over it...time just helps us get used to them not being there.
A friend of mine's father passed away. I had come to know him better because I worked for his son. He was an Italian man and came over here through Ellis Island when he was a young man. He built a company and a family that was very close. He was always helping others. Once paying for a prescription for a stranger in line in front of him when they said they did not have enough money for medicine that was really needed. He often talked about his life and his family. The last day I talked to him, we were talking about my grandmothers and other people and he said, "That's right. No matter how beautiful we are, how much money we have, or how famous we are, we all have one thing in common. We all die." I was heartsick when I found out that he passed away that night. It is hard to lose someone who you felt so much for, but never shared it.
Then my uncle passed unexpectedly when his heart failed. He had been a person loved by many. He had a way that was strong and assured, but he also had a weak spot for homeless people and his family. He enjoyed life and everything about him showed that he was just happy to be alive.
People passing of natural causes, the cycle of life, is easier to accept. We all must die. Then last September, hard to believe it will be a year now, my cousin committed suicide. This is one I will not talk about because it is still raw, but he was a kind and caring human being. This is a hard passing to accept for anyone. It always leaves questions unanswered. A person who touched you with actions not words. A quiet and subtle kindness that could reach deep, but was never shared.
Now I have to console my daughter for the tragedy of losing a friend and teammate violently. She was a victim. My daughter called me from school and told me. She said she was shaking uncontrollably at first and couldn't cry. I couldn't explain this away. Words are easier to find when a person dies of natural causes and sadly because they are older, but at the hand of someone else and so young, how do you explain it or find words??? I did tell her that it is a wake up call that we must all enjoy life to its fullest because we never know even if we are young and healthy what tomorrow hold or if there will be a tomorrow....and we don't know what to say to heal...and we don't know how to say it will be ok....and we don't know how to explain it because we will never understand why. I told her that it is hard, but she was only feeling a small piece of what was felt at Columbine and Virginia Tech. Senseless and tragedies and loss because one person decided it was time??? And through words we cannot explain, but we do know that it will be ok and that healing will come with time, but it will take a lot longer and be harder because it is senseless. I want to wrap my little girl (well, she is taller than me now) in my arms, pick her up and cradle her and just rock her like when she was a baby and make everything alright, but I can't. So I cry for her sadness and her tears that I can't take away from her and make my own.
I lost my PopPop on October 5, 2012. He was "my MAN" and I cannot console myself from the loss. I am finding it hard to get past. I have been through loss in a big way with my grandmothers and others, but I am having a hard time. I loved this man so much that it aches and I try to make it okay by saying it was the best thing for him. It was the best thing for him. He could not see or interact, but I want it back to him just being him....I love you PopPop
We all find that there will be sometime in life that we will grieve for someone lost. I, myself, find that there are times that we try not to feel it and try to move on and all of a sudden we break down and feel weak. Why do we feel weak???
I bought a book at the airport a couple of months ago…again like the movie "Pay It Forward" thinking it would be a feel good book. It was called "The Year of Magical Thinking". I was rushing to get a plane and just bought it and paid for it and started reading it on the plane and found that it was a book that chronicled the year after a woman lost her husband. My first instinct was that I wanted to put it down because the subject matter was depressing, but I couldn't put it down because it felt so real. How could it???? (That may have set off my obsession in July with living life for the instant and the day and the good people instead of things because it was the end of June when I started reading it and continued and finished in Mid-July). This book really did bring to the forefront the feelings that we feel when someone close to us dies and the reactions to how we express those feelings, both from ourselves and others. If only we had shut down and not listened to the words, or not answered the phone, then maybe we could have avoided it or stopped it???? We may have known someone all of our life, they may have been in our everyday, a phone call, or in the same house, or across the street, or a teammate who we played with, and traveled with, and got to know through short conversations, but we only have a couple of weeks or months or a year to mourn???????????? Who really knows what is normal? Who says that is selfish? Who determines when we are due to move on????? People can say they would react a certain way and expect that of themselves, but when it happens to them how do they really react????? I don't know, but I do know that loss is hard and it shakes our very beings…even the thought or hint at loss takes us back…sometimes further than we ever expect. To move on we must first get to the point we had reached before the loss, but what if they were an important part of that point, what if they were the ones to bring us to that point, then what????? To others we may be indulging in our tears, but for us we can't see past the tears. We try……….but sometimes we feel that losing the tears will take that part of us away forever….take the memories….lessen the affect of them in our lives….we want everyone to stop because they were important…however insignificant they may have seemed to others, they were important to every ounce of us…..stop and feel our pain…stop and mourn…someone has passed on….….moving on to us, at first, feels like it will somehow betray the feelings that we know eventually will take us forward. So grieve and feel it and take those memories when you are ready, not someone else's sense of when you should be ready, and move forward. It will come, for you in your time and it will be when you are ready and when the memories will push you and move you and keep the person in your heart forever.
Cry, laugh, feel, they were here and now they're gone.....and you will be able to remember and feel them forever!!!!