I am surprised by how much life has changed and yet remains much the same as before. I catch myself thinking, did it really happen? It strikes me in the most mundane places; the car, the grocery store, when I get a moment at lunch. I remember it all over again. Sometimes, the memory hits me full on like a powerful jolt, and other times it sneaks in and settles itself.
Yet, I can still laugh as much as ever and I still see that joy and love exists even though the life and family I had always known has been ripped apart. I feel the joy more deeply. I feel every loss.
If you were here, would I feel the sadness I hear about in the news, all the recent tragic happenings, so deeply? I have become so aware this past year of the fragility of life and how very human we all are. I have become aware of all the tragedy that exists on a global scale and in my small and much loved circle. The truth that I have always known – that life can be incessantly unfair — has revealed itself to me in many ways. There is another truth, however; that I can lose and still keep going.
I learnt that from you and from my mother and from the village of family and friends that raised me and continue to look after me. I see these people now as raw, vulnerable individuals who are also grieving and losing all the time. They have so much to lose because they give so much of themselves. I have seen the heartbreak of falling in and out of love, of struggling in a relationship, or ending one that didn’t work. The heartbreak of feeling like you’re letting yourself down every day, of feeling lost and unsure of your place in the world. Of dealing with past tragic circumstances and moving forward, finding peace and seeking justice. Of sickness and having a body you thought you knew betray you. And I have seen the heartbreak of all the people they have lost and had to say goodbye to, including you. Your loss has made me more compassionate. It has made me stronger. It is a quiet strength.
I think about all the small ways in the days after you died that I said goodbye to you. How I lit a candle for you early one morning and how it sat on the kitchen bench, near the tea pot, that was boiled and refilled countless times throughout the day as our neighbours and friends visited and sat with us. I think about how the flame remained constant throughout the day. In the evening, when everyone had gone, I took the candle from the bench and went outside. On the front lawn, as the sun was setting, I blew it out and said what I thought was my final goodbye. In that moment, I imagined your soul was set free and that you were finally the truest version of yourself. Removed from the shackles that had rooted you to one body on one earth, your curious spirit would roam the universe on an endless journey.
In the small moments when I remember you are gone, I remember you are also free.