Do we measure the time that they have gone, the way once we measured their birthdays? Do we calculate the times when it gets too hard to breathe or quantify the hollowness between each heartbeat?
We don’t talk about death. It isn’t the morbidity of death itself, but the rawest and purest of emotions that cuts deep within. When someone we know dies, we grief. We cope. We pay our condolences to the living and our last respects to the departed.
But what happens to the people who are left behind? How do we come to terms the emptiness that lingers within the air?
On the same day I celebrated the joyous union of two people, I lost someone I know. I will always remember him as a simple man who was never short of smiles. The little head that popped across the fence and simple pleasantries we exchanged. But for his heartbroken family, they lost more than a neighbour; they lost a lifetime partner, a sibling, a father, a grandfather, a friend.
So tell me, what happens to the people who are left to pick up the pieces? For the inconsolable widow who sobbed uncontrollably as she retold the happenings leading to his final moments. For the strongest of men that let their tears fall so naturally. For the people who knew him well.
Death brings life into perspective, much like the appreciation of light in presence of darkness. It is in death, we remember the living. Look around us, who matters most? What if the last time you talk a person will be the last? What will your last memories be?
Grief is unexpected; it catches you by surprise, like a gush of wind or a wave that crash onto the shore. At the end of the day, death is inevitably part of life; so, allow yourself to grief.
With each breath you take, allow yourself to heal.
I lost you on the way from Zadar, three years ago. After I received the unexpected notification, I remembered looking out of the van down the scenic road, and nothing much after. It was as though as I ate an ice cream too fast, except that the brain-freeze lasted longer than a few seconds. The world then felt as though it simultaneously sped up and slowed down, like a broken record player.
That day, I walked into a tiny church, while the rest of my friends were enjoying the scenic view of Croatia. I sat at the pew alone as I mourned for you. I lit a candle and prayed for your safe journey. And once again, I struggled to cope with the brutality of loss. You were a difficult person to know, with your barrier up and ego high, but you were family. Despite that, given the circumstances of how you left, it pained me to know that you may be alone in your final moments.
I hardly looked at the photographs taken during the trip since, knowing that behind posed smile that looked natural were seemingly forced. As days turned into weeks and months into years, I learn to cope with grief, one of the many inevitable life lessons that shape and define us.
But once in a while, I look up at the sky sometimes, and hope that wherever you are, you finally found peace.