death and i aren’t friends

I don’t deal with this shit well.

I remember when my great grandmother died, I hid in the corner of our living room, behind the couch, and cried. I did not want to talk to anyone. I stared at our beautiful turquoise carpet and watched as little girl tears hit the fabric. The thing is, though, I didn’t know my great grandmother that well. I hardly knew her at all, really. I was…7? 8? Somewhere in there.
My grandfather died a year later, I think. I was much closer with him. I didn’t know what happened, but on a super cold January night, I had to pack a bag and leave my bed. My mom and dad dropped me off at my grandparents’ house (on my mother’s side) and I slept on their bedroom floor because I didn’t want to be alone. I watched their comforter rise and fall as they slept, their two dogs curled up in cages.
My dad held me in his arms and sobbed the next day, telling me that Grandpa had gone to heaven. I felt so awkward, because I didn’t cry. I felt uncomfortable, I wanted to be left alone, to hide in the living room again where no one would find me.

I haven’t really lost that many people I cared about. I’ve lost both my mom’s brothers, and a few close family friends, but besides that, those two deaths when I was a child were my only experience. I’ve since talked about these experiences with my fiance, how they shaped me and dented me. He was there for my family and me when my mom’s oldest brother died in 2009. He was there when my grandmother fought for her life last year, and he listened to every single word I had to say along the way. Because sometimes I talk way too much.

I have been to three funerals in my life, and none of them were for my relatives. They were for a friend’s mother, my fiance’s brother, and a family friend’s sister. Each one made me feel like the time my dad held me and cried: just uncomfortable. What was I supposed to say? Or do? How many times can you tell someone “I’m sorry” before it sounds like a broken music box? You put on the black dress, you stand in the corner, and you know that these people will never remember you were there. They will never remember because they’re so devastated with losing someone they loved that they can’t remember what their house looks like.

But, in spite of all this, I cry more for other people’s pain. I just do. I don’t know what it is. When I was in preschool, if a kid fell off the jungle gym or cut his hand, I would stop what I was doing, sit beside them, and cry too. Who does that? This instinct has never left me. If my loved ones cry, I cry.
It was so out of character for me not to cry at my grandfather’s death. I think I was more freaked out at my dad’s reaction. He’d just lost his dad. I know what that feels like now, in a way.

But back to death.

Death and I aren’t friends. We don’t get along. Some people handle death with strength or God or some other fabulous coping mechanism, but not me. I bubble with snot and sweat and lose my emotions until I’m gagging for air. And, more often than not, I cry for those who hurt more than I cry for myself. But, I never ever know what to say.

This has been a terrible week for quite a few people I know, and I cried for them this weekend. I cried because I didn’t know how to reach out. I sit in bed, waiting for the clock to turn midnight, because I can’t do anything else.

Sometimes I talk too much, and sometimes I hide behind my couch. Sometimes I sleep on the floor, and sometimes I sit next to the little boy who fell off the jungle gym.
But last night and today, I stayed in my head and worked it out. I wrote it down, and I held my breath.

And I tried my very hardest not to run away.

One comment

  1. QTRlifer · September 8, 2013

    I similarly feel as if I (fortunately) haven’t dealt with much death in my life. I bawled when my great-grandmother died at age 104, even though she obviously lived a long life. All that said, I know that my mom says she remembered friends and people who reached out when her father died (years before I was born), so I hope you try to be there with your friends and help however you can. I don’t know what “help” means to everyone, and I don’t know if everyone remembers the people who were there, but even if it may help a little, I think that’s worth it?

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