I have this quiet fascination with death. Perhaps fascination is not the correct word. Let's try intrigue. I have this quiet intrigue surrounding death. I am curious about the emotions that often need to be managed when the loss of life is apparent. Death is a natural occurrence, yet whenever it presents itself, there is an almost immediate shock to one's emotional system. My emotional cup always appears to be half full when death is present.
When you witness life exit a human body it changes you. No matter if you experience someone deteriorating over time or experience the immediate shock when someone passes, there tends to be this overwhelming sense of finality. My personal experiences have always catapulted me to a floodgate of memories, particularly as it pertains to family.
My family, on both my Mom and Dad's side, is very familiar with death. They both had brothers and sisters that passed prior to my existence, and my grandparents passed when I was younger. I distinctly remember being told "death is a part of life. Everyone dies."
Ecclesiastes 7:2 - "it is better to go to a house of mourning than to
go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living
should take this to heart."
This harsh reality was my personal GPS as I navigated through the waters of my own parents death. Not to say these moments of reality were void of emotion, but they absolutely were based in the fact of this uncomfortable truth. I very much kept it moving along the way becoming extremely self sufficient and self reliant, with deep roots invested in my own independence as a matter of survival.
As I've gotten older and more family members have passed, my emotional barometer has shifted. I find myself deeply longing to reconnect and recover the stolen moments. Moments that have faded into black & white memories, and often moments that never existed. Seems like the pause button was pushed along the way and I've missed out on other people's lives. Conversely, my family has missed out too. Although I tend to be somewhat vocal about documenting my personal and professional life in the age of social networking, nothing really beats that human connection.
I've been marinating on these thoughts and feelings for about a year now. More recently, my mother's oldest brother passed this week and I probably had not spoken to him since my Dad passed about eleven years ago. Ironically, he had not spoken to his youngest brother, now the only surviving member of that generation, in about the same amount of time. My cousins, same thing. On both sides of my family, there is no family reunion. There are no celebratory engagements where we all get together and connect. There's no Antoine Fisher and there's no Soul Food. Big Momma on both sides has been gone for a long time, so if it ever existed, it sure doesn't anymore. Shoot, I'm meeting relatives for the first time at damn near every funeral I attend. Is this normal? It surely is the norm for me, but I can't escape the feeling that it should NOT be.
All this disconnect has me thinking about managing my own emotions and expectations in both life and in death. I've absolutely moved through life making stealth movements. Now when I look up, particularly as I plan a life with my future husband, I'm looking around with an acute awareness. I already know I'm a strange bird. My ability (or inability depending on how you view it) to connect to people takes time. When I'm disconnected, that void is huge and often feels irreparable. It takes me a minute to say I Love You, because the weight of that responsibility feels like you can't just say it and disappear. But I do feel love. I'm not void of the emotion, but my boundaries are visibly invisible. I keep myself open enough to try and make a connection, but far enough away not to get hurt. It's a super-duper survival tactic I picked up in battle. The scars are real, but I swear I'm trying to put cocoa-butter on the wounds to make them disappear.
It's an awesome responsibility to carry the desire to heal the pain from the past. Somehow I feel like all the things that aren't spoken about, are the the same things that prevent people from moving forward in the present. It's like part of our DNA. We are used to having things exist as they are so it's almost like we're comfortable as it is. I'm comfortably uncomfortable. I suppose that's why I write. I suppose it's why I attempt to reconcile why I feel and think the way that I do. It's why I want to understand why X is X and why it went down like that. I don't proclaim to have all the answers and I think I'm finally starting to be ok with not having the answers and not having the answers that I want. There's also that whole let it go thing.
Colossians 3:13-14 -"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you
may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And
over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect
At my uncle's Muslim ceremony this week, my first Muslim home going, the notion of forgiveness was expressed as a way to allow the dead to journey back to Allah, to their paradise, free and clear of debt. I desire to do this on the journey between the sunrise and sunset. I am painfully aware that this is a journey where each and every relationship takes work. There's a quiet acceptance I desire to have where whatever is put forth in each of my relationships, is just enough. Sure, accountability always exists, but we accept and love each other for who we are, as we are. Therefore it becomes pretty unacceptable that years don't go by in between our moments of connection.
Most of my family resides in New York, but even for those that live out of state, those moments of connection are few and far between. Perhaps that is part of the acceptance, so when we do finally connect, it is much more of a unique, peaceful and loving experience. It's not my responsibility to heal the wounds of the past, but it is my responsibility to be accountable and present with those that desire to do the same. I'm taking it one step at a time, nothing forced, just letting it do what it do! I think it's a step in the right direction...so I'll just continue to do that - one step at a time, one person at a time.