I’m living the cliché of cliches.
I’m headed down to my grandfather’s today to celebrate – can I say celebrate? – the anniversary of my grandmother’s death, and it’s pouring rain. Sarah Kay wrote that “Rain will wash everything away if you let it,” but it’s also the largest offender of thematic overuse and that’s what I’m concentrating on as we weave through grey cities and cars that seem to be equally monochromatic. My bright teal dress is the only color, and I can feel eyes gravitate towards our strange procession. It’s clearly implied that I don’t belong here. We’re outsiders in a small town, and I don’t have my grandmother’s protective hand to promise I’m exactly where I should be. I know we’ll be lost within minutes.
This time last year I was waking up from Relay for Life after walking a marathon distance. I was looking around, sore but grateful, and smiling out my window before limping down the stairs. My house was silent and tense and everyone was a slightly different color than usual but I ignored it. My mom was in the kitchen asking me if she could get me anything and how I slept. She was too cheery. I knew something had happened but I turned from it and promised myself I was misinterpreting. I thought of the luminaria I had placed on the track for my fighter – the same luminaria that stood as a memorial this year. I sat down on the couch and tried to casually piece together a different answer. I asked what was going on. She told me the truth. I wasn’t ready for it. You can never be ready for it. Don’t believe anyway that tells you saying goodbye makes it easy. There’s always more you wish you’d said.
I’ve been told I’m a professional at grief. I never get angry and I rarely cry until I’m alone and there’s no one left to comfort. Let me just tell you, that title sucks. You’re not born knowing you have that skill and I’m not even sure you’re born possessing it. It comes from losing best friends and grandparents and parental figures and being very accustomed to feeling lost. My father is a big fan of teaching us skills by forcing us to do them. I learned to grieve like I learned to ski; I was pushed down the mountain and had to fight to stay standing. It’s a lonely, scary task, but you have no choice but to keep going. You’re not even sure you know how to stop.
I lost my voice for a long time this year, and I hate to come back with sad news and sob stories, but I think I have something to say now. This week in the Supreme Court we learned that love wins, but we also learned that sometimes it needs to be fought for. Embraces at tomb stones and hands held at bedsides are fights that I swear are being won. I’ve watched so many bodies crumble this year. I’ve seen so many souls tire and hearts shatter, but I promise you love is still winning as long as people keep showing up to fight. But please, please when it’s hard and wet and scary don’t forget to show up.
I watched birds with my grandfather earlier today. He traced their path to and from the birdhouse with his eyes and words and said to me “Yanno they help eachother. They’re always feeding eachother. It’s nice to see that even birds have love of some sort.” They keep showing up.
“Airports see more sincere kisses than wedding halls.
The walls of hospitals have heard more prayers than the walls of churches.”
*quick write, may be edited later*