Every time I hear a person had died it feels like a new song I have just heard, one I have fallen in love with, has ended unexpectedly. The song had just reached the best part that pumps your body full of adrenaline, makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and stirs something emotional and primal in you. And then it just…ends. Cut short. Done. It always feels like it shouldn’t have ended yet, no matter who it is, no matter their age.
When I found out you were gone, realized your body would no longer move and I would never have a chance to say goodbye, it wasn’t like my new favorite song ended though. It was like all of my old favorite songs evaporated. I couldn’t hear them. I couldn’t even remember them, probably because I had listened to all of them with you.
The notes hid behind a veil. There was only silence, or the noise of the world around me.
I went back in the coming days and listened to those songs, finally realizing what it meant to lose a person even if it was a person you no longer had. The songs didn’t sound as full or lively and in a wild moment of grief I wondered if you took their energy with you. I desperately wanted them to feel or sound the same because it was the only place I knew to still find you, but they were different, hollow.
Years later and I still sometimes start whispering to empty rooms, thinking you can hear me. I know you can’t. I know those notions are just a comfort we’re given to help soothe the overwhelming pain that sometimes floods our entire bodies after a death. Even this, which you will never read, is a device invented by my mind.
You aren’t you anymore. You’re wind, grass, dirt and maybe even a flower or two. I hope you’re flowers now, wherever you are.
Knowing all this, I still catch myself remembering a way that you looked or a laugh that we had. I’ll catch myself thinking about a joke or an old story, quickly remembering you are gone and won’t hear me if I speak out loud. I don’t feel foolish when I do, just sad. The pain of knowing I will only ever whisper to myself about these memories overflows and bleeds in tears, cries, words. The pain is a cold wind bearing against me, pushing me back. I don’t know what else to do but write to you. Once I even told you sorry. It was an apology you were owed but I was too cowardly to give, foolishly thinking we still had nothing but time.
The pain does not leave or diminish. Instead it only becomes easier to handle. The only comfort offered is I am not alone. We have all lost someone, will lose and miss someone. If we don’t talk about it, that’s fine, but underneath all the laughs and sweet moments many of us harbor a bittersweet pain that does not allow us to fully enjoy any moment. We miss them. A voice in the back of our minds asks at a birthday party or night out, “What would they say if they were here?” or, “How would they look tonight?” It is a small voice, taking a fraction of the night to listen to, but it is enough to poke a pinhole in all of our hearts.
Sorrow drips out, spreading like ink on tissue paper until we are home alone. Maybe we’ll avoid the memories or let them in. For me, it always feels like I am waiting for my favorite songs to resume, to hear you say hello, and to pick up where we left off like we did before.