Just expressin’. Don’t mind me.
I am amazed at how many ways grief manifests with different folks. I’ve been strangely aware of the world around me in a way that I usually have let it kinda pass me by. I’ve been ultra-sensitive to my surroundings and just…aware. I’ve noticed the subtle changes in people’s tone of voice, the varied expressions of their faces, and I’ve been able to discern in a clearer way what some of the people who surround me are about.
My Uncle Bryan (Mom’s brother) passed away on Tuesday morning. I was not super close to him but he was my uncle and I loved him. He had been dealing with tremendous health issues for as long as I could remember and even in light of that, the news still came as a shock. But it seems that death always is a shock – no matter what you know or what you see, when the moment of finality happens, there’s nothing that absorbs that shock. Nothing.
The next feeling was that of sadness. This sadness was not just because he was gone but it was also because I realized that I was not able to speak my piece to him. We had not had any disagreements nor were there any grudges held but I didn’t get to say the things you’d think you would want to say to a loved one. I instantly thought of all the times I could’ve called him to just say hi or could’ve went to visit him but I was absorbed in the life I was trying to make for myself. I wondered did he know that I did love him and whether I still laugh about those stories that he told me of my Mom’s younger days (perhaps stories that she didn’t want out of the vault…lol). I thought about how there was not one conversation that I had with him where I did not learn something new; he carried that trademark King brilliance well. Whatever was said or was left unspoken, at this point it is too late and that would be no one’s fault but my own. Death makes you eerily introspective.
Time is precious and we say it all the time; however, I wonder how many of us really live like time is precious? How many things do we leave unsaid or undone because “I’ll get around to it when I have the time” or “So and so knows that I feel __________.” How many times do we wait for others to do or say things first when we feel compelled to just speak or act? We stay mad at others way too long and expect them to read our minds and discern our thoughts. We learn to center our lives on ourselves and we might share the spotlight, but only when it is extremely convenient. So then when people leave, our grieving processes end up encompassing more ground than it should because it’s hard to find peace with another person when they’re unable to hear, say, act, or respond to you. It’s not impossible but it is hard. The intangibility which death affords us rocks us at our core.
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the past few months it’s that grief does not have to be wasted. Though it is a natural part of life and is usually thought to be bad, there is a good that can be produced from grief. Since Tuesday morning, I’ve been really just observing people and things and how I react to them. I’ve been more prone to say how I’m feeling but also be sensitive to the folks I care about who are around me. In this way, grief has served a good purpose – a purpose that I can only hope is long-lasting. I don’t want another loved one to pass and I say “I don’t know if he/she knew how I felt about him/her.” I don’t want my life to pass me by and at the end I realize that there was so much that I left unsaid or undone because of…whatever.
So I’m taking steps to make sure that this grief is not wasted, that it is good grief. I’m endeavoring to be more aware and be more openly honest about what I feel or what I see. I want to not hold grudges and be able to love folks without restraint. It won’t be automatic – no, it’ll take some work. But sometimes you need a little grief to remind you that you’re still alive in order to keep going and keep growing. Life’s too short to have it any other way. That’s been proven [again] this week.