I received a letter this week from a dear friend of mine.. In the course of his letter, he was replying to my last correspondence with him in which we spoke of life and death and the subject of my own mom came up…In his reply, he understands how I feel but also believes that I need to let my moms spirit go and move on…. I agree with him but, the 64 million dollar question is how? He asked me to explain to him what it is I feel inside… Tonight I began drafting a response to him. It took me some time and I am still not quite finished with it as of yet but it got me to thinking about life,death,loss,and pain…
I don’t know how true this is for others but for myself, this is my story. My experience with death started at the age of 9 with the loss of my dad. Do you have children? Can you for a moment imagine how horrible it would be for them to lose you at 9? At an age when they can understand whats happening yet, not old enough to be able to understand how to handle it? Pretty horrible and frightening thought isn’t it? Well, sadly, thats what happened to me. Please excuse my bluntness but, my first experience of looking at a dead body was my own father. I can tell you, this loss scared me deeply. Even at 39 years of age I can still remember what it felt like to kiss him good night each night when the viewings were over. You probably think that was pretty morbid and why did anyone let me do that..Well, think of your own child.
At that age, all they know is, yes Daddy is dead and not coming back but the body in that box is still daddy. They aren’t prepared for the cold feeling of the body and at that moment in time it doesn’t even bother them. All they know is they have to leave now until tomorrow and daddy isn’t coming with them and, like any other time you left a parent you kissed them good bye or good night. So, like any child at that age, I kissed my daddy good night each night. As an adult ,I wish I had never done that because when I think about it I can still feel the coldness of his body but it’s something I deal with because it can’t be changed. This started my life long experience with the pain of the soul and deep deep sadness.
Please know, I do NOT write these thoughts for sympathy or martyrdom, they are simply.. my thoughts, feelings and experiences..I have in my short life lost many to death. I can say that most people I know have never lost as many as I have in their entire lives..It seems since before I was even old enough to understand, death surrounded me. At that age of 7 my fathers brother died, 2 years later his mother died 2 years later my own dad died and 2 years after that my mothers father died. So between the ages of 7 and 13 years of age I lost an uncle, a grandmother, a grandfather and my own father. Not to mention a childhood friend who died from heart failure when we were only 8 years old. After this, I lost more friends to tragic accidents and some to drug overdoses in my teen years but in all of these losses,each caused their own pain, only 3 of them to this point, and I hope for good are the ones that drove the nails through the soul. My dad, my mom and my Richie.
I actually never really learned how to cope with grief, deep sadness, fear and insecurity beginning with my dad’s passing. These were all the things I was feeling as a little girl but didn’t understand what they were or how to handle them so as an adult I grew up with them until, somewhere a long the line they became part of me..In my teen years, there were as I said, losses of friends and I managed to ignore the passing of my dad for as long as I could and when I thought I was finally moving past it and able to feel some kind of security in the world again I lost Richie.. I realize most of you don’t know who he was or anything about him but let me sum it up for you. Richie was my first deep love. He and I dated when we were teenagers and were pretty serious. Infact, we thought we were having a child together at one point and when the test was negative, Richie, was actually very disappointed. We had also lived together for a while. So it wasn’t just “some teen romance thing”.. We honestly did love each other..but, we were still young and as usually happens we did break up. But even though we were no longer involved in that way, he and I stayed close. We always loved each other. As we got older, into our 20’s we talked of getting back together for a while but at the time he was in the army and was stationed in upstate New York and I couldn’t uproot my life to be up there with him because I had to much going on with family and professionally. It was the perfect case of bad timing but as for the love between he and I ? It grew as we did and was always there regardless of who else was in our lives at the time. This was not easy for significant others to handle but it was made perfectly clear that if and when the day came that Richie & I could finally get ourselves geographically settled.. I was gone.. I understand that was harsh but it’s just how it was. There was never any lying about it.. Beyond this, Richie was a ‘staple’ in my life. Somehow I always thought, as long as he was around things would work out.. I knew I could always go to him whenever I needed to. Well when he passed away in 1995 it pretty much blew my life to smithereens. I had never felt soul burning pain until that day. I literally ran to the local church up by my moms house which was where I was the day Richie’s mom called to tell me what happened, and collapsed on the altar infront of the biggest crucifix I had ever seen to date in so much pain I thought it would kill me and if I were to be completely honest with you, at that moment I was asking God why I couldn’t go with Richie, why couldn’t I be with him and why did this have to happen. I wanted to be with Richie even if it meant my death. So you can only imagine the amount of pain I was in at the time..It wasn’t an expected passing at all and the shock of losing him just blew my soul to pieces. It took me MANY years to be able to somewhat comes to terms with this (I still haven’t completely but do we ever?)
I thought I had finally moved on from this and then came the last crushing blow and I pray the last one I have to deal with, I lost my mom. That kind of did me in. Do you know what it feels like to have a tired soul? My moms passing ripped through my soul like hot coals and once again that soul burning pain was back in my life..actually, I don’t think it has ever left me. At times it’s lighter but it’s always there…..
I have had friends tell me I seem like a sad person.. While I reply that I am fine and most days I am, they are right. I have a sad soul. I have had a sad soul all my life. It cries out for those I love who have gone on to soon, it cries out for the pain to stop and if a picture could be captured of my soul, I am sure it would be wrenched with battle scars. I also have a soul that has enough love for everyone and everything in the world. A soul that loves way beyond any boundaries and one that loves God as much as a soul can love but, it also shares room with my pain. Pain that as of now and maybe forever, I do not know how to heal or let go. I would imagine, that life without this kind of pain could be wonderful but for myself, until someone can teach me how to not have it with me and even more importantly, teach me how not to feel it, I guess it will be part of me just as anything else is….