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Another Thing About You Being Dead

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memorial bench in the woods my father played in as a little boy

It’s weird how life keeps going. Like Netflix, episodes that continue playing long after everyone is asleep. A whirring. A constant. Next. Next. Next. No one is even looking. No one is even paying attention. The sun rises and no one is awake to see it. No one is awake to comment.

It used to make me really sick. Made me want to throw plates and smash glass with my bare hands. Once, I walked down to the cul-de-sac with a yellow END sign and broke bottles that weren’t even mine. I screamed until it echoed. Anything to be loud, to be crashing. I wanted the universe to hear how badly it hurt.

But life kept going. No matter how piercing the fall. No matter how hard my heart tried to beat up the rest of me. Still heard girls next to me in class laughing and talking about parties. Still felt a sudden hatred for them. A burning somewhere deep that I couldn’t quite rid. They didn’t know. They didn’t know their joy was turning my stomach inside itself. They were just being teenagers. They were doing what I wish I could.

The world didn’t stop just because yours did.

People were still happy and making out and planning their next day outfits. They were meeting up at Yogurt Shack and someone was always mad because Brian was a dick. My dad was dead and my teacher was still asking questions about A Separate Peace. 

The full extent to my grieving was delayed. I hung out with denial as long as I could. It’s the best stage, you know. It’s the one that doesn’t hurt as much. It’s the one that lets you look at others and not hate them. It’s the one that lets you laugh along, plan your next day outfit, answer the teacher when she calls on you about Gene Forrester. It keeps the darkness at bay, for a bit. For as long as you can.

You being dead is the worst thing. And I’m sorry that’s not more poetic or inspirational or whatever bullshit people want from me. I’m sorry it’s not something your old co-workers can tape to their doors. I’m sorry it’s not even something I want to read to Mom in case it makes her sad.

I talk about you whenever I can. I didn’t for a while. But that’s the denial thing. Don’t talk about it. Don’t make it real. Don’t remind yourself. I stopped writing for a long time after you died. I didn’t want to put it to paper, to laptop, to whatever.

Now, I tell your stories on Twitter. I’m giving strangers the best of you. I’m trying to share the wealth. There’s so much of you to share.

Sometimes I have dreams that you’re on an extended skiing trip. You show up and I’m so mad at you. I’m so mad at you for being away this long. I’m so mad at you for making us all think you’re gone forever. But then, you come into the house and hug me and I forgive you. I forgive you for being in Norway or Sweden or Denmark for the past eight years.

I wake up and you’re still in the urn.

I love you. It’s not your fault, but I’m still really mad that you’re dead.

I tell myself I reached acceptance, the final stage of grief. But that’s just a lie.

There’s no accepting you being gone. Not you, Dad. TC mark

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