As I sit down at my desk to write you this note, it’s 11.21 AM here in the Pacific Northwest. The weather is mild for this time of the year, for summer and yet, the grass in the backyard is parched. From this brown and very dead meadow, hundreds and hundreds of dandelions (and creeping buttercups) are blooming as if to say, “beauty can come from anything”. Yes, they are a nuisance and a weed but ever since last year, they have become my friends. A metaphor for how fast life and seasons change. How everything – even when you cannot see it – holds beauty.
I am drinking a beer, which is the main reason why I started this letter with the time of day. In the past, alcohol or any other intoxicating substance have never helped me in the pit of despair. I’ve always felt like instead of brushing it away, I needed to either sit with it or write about it. During my moments of grief, that rationale was hollow.
That one beer when it isn’t really morning or isn’t really noon comes highly recommended by only me and probably some of the greatest thinkers of our time. I have made some of the most profound observations about life after my father died because of that beer. I let it all go just a little bit. In that moment when the buzz hits, nobody was trying to take away the loves of my life from me.
What I’m trying to tell you is: Have a beer or a counterintuitive shot of something strong when it’s the most inappropriate. Have it for your dad and mom. In their memory. I won’t judge you. Just remember to think about it a little longer if it starts to take too much control over you. Right now, your grief always comes first.
That’s a damn good excuse to do whatever the fuck you want. Somebody is pissing you off? Tell them to eat shit. If someone wants to offload their life’s worries on you a month after the person who birthed you is no longer living and breathing in your midst like they used you? Tell them to drive 1000 kms away….. and then fuck off. Anger will come naturally. Use it. I used to be so good at keeping my feelings bottled up for fear of being perceived as negative. Now? Fuck it. Swear incessantly. It’s amazing how good it will feel.
My father chose a very inconvenient time to die. It was the day before a public holiday so of course, everybody would be able to come to his funeral. My past experiences of watching him plan family members’ last rites made me think that he was emotionless or something. My father! He who never liked to waste any time putting people in the ground. Some would say that’s heartless. Going through his own funeral as a daughter, I am now of the opinion that he was right. Funerals suck and the sooner they’re done, the better. I imagine cremations suck as well.
At funerals, people are all trying to shake your hand when you’d rather just make fun of the man asking to play the violin at the remembrance mass a month later. That’s what your dad would have done too. But he would have also made a note of everyone *not* there so for the sake of being petty for all the shit line of “how, where, why” guilt-inducing questioning you’ll have to go through for the next few months. If you want to, stand outside the cemetery and take attendance. Be that bitch.
Death is so loaded. That single word is enough to send people shaking into a corner. You might lose a lot of friends and that’s okay. Societies don’t give enough space for people to be sad and maybe you can’t blame them for not showing up but blame them anyway. At least for now or until you can figure out if you’re forgiving Edlyn or vengeful Edlyn. I took a year off myself but for some people, I have chosen to take longer.
Grief is everything. Everything. As soon as you’re in it, you can never be out of it. The aches dull with time but right now, it is all consuming. Your heart is ripped, stepped on, stabbed. You have no concept of time, except you know it’s getting dark and your dad is supposed to be home by now. You are a baby again, you want your mom.
You wonder why you’re even alive. What is the point? This vulnerability is a pain in the brain in the early days. I wrote it all down because I knew I would long for those days in the future. The further away my father’s death is, the harder it becomes. And that my friend, is the biggest irony of it all. It doesn’t get better or worse: It gets different. It’s complex. It’s ever-changing and it’s the most natural, organic thing we will ever observe up close in this lifetime. It is precious. Just like a birth- beautiful, implausible like the miracle of a small tiny bird anticipating its next meal that’s never coming.
Death is common. You will hear and remember all the people that died in tragedies on the news or close to home. Life will become a timeline of befores and afters in relation to that day you lost your person. That intensity of grief is not permanent but it’s comforting to know that you’re not the only one.
Sridevi died a few months after my father. Sridevi! It’s humbling and it spares nobody. That’s not to say that your grief isn’t the most important thing in the world. It always will be the biggest part of you from now until forever. Bad relationships, shitty bosses, rude encounters on the train are close to nothing compared to this. This is your becoming. Treat it as such.
I can’t finish this without telling you what an amazing, resilient, wonderful, brave and marvelous person you are. Your body heals. Your mind does too. You of all people know this better than I ever will. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m sorry it sucks. I’m sorry life just goes on. There are seasons for everything and everyone. This is yours right now. Cling to hope in the midst of your despair. Ask questions, seek answers and don’t ever forget that the only real and true reason you lost so much is because of that one thing: Love.