Grieving is an art, a demented performance piece demanding parts of yourself for that special touch of realism. I thought by now I might have developed some expertise as I’m reaching the point where I’ve outlived a great deal of those who wished me ill, and am unfortunately starting to accumulate losses of those who now take a piece of me with each death.
For some of the losses, there were others I loved as much. There were others who loved me. There were others who understood me. Many are still with me, still let me grieve in my own steady way of approaching all things emotional. They lack for nothing in their desire to help me through this time that turned out to be more painful than I ever imagined it would be. But there’s a large piece missing that Tina filled.
I knew Tina’s death would hit me hard. I anticipated the grief. I prepared for it the best I could. But what I didn’t prepare for was the realization that Tina was the only person I never had to explain anything to, because she was there for all of it since we were fourteen years old. In fifty-six years, no more than a month went by without some kind of contact between us. She knew everything about me. Absolutely everything. I never had to explain because she knew it all.
Now I find myself having to explain all those things that never needed an explanation, and by doing so it has forced me to look at them all over again with different eyes.
I saw how the smallest of things can impact a life, things that seemed so insignificant at the time were actually the seeds of life changing events. I grew into those smallest of seeds. I took them into myself and became me, decades later, but still me.
I saw how things that consumed me for days, weeks, years, actually meant little in the larger pattern of my life. I don’t want to say it was all a waste. I learned things, important things that made me who I am today.
I learned to love, to dance, to sing under a full moon with those who knew why I needed to do so. I learned what it meant to love so passionately the body’s skin and bones were barriers to overcome.
I learned to talk to others without fear, without the crippling shyness of my youth. I’m still not very good at it, but I’m getting better.
I learned to cry in front of others without shame. I learned to let others see, hear, and know what I really felt.
I learned if I eliminated toxic people from my life it left more room for the good ones.
I learned to see my ability to love, my compassion, my desire for a kinder world as strengths to speak of with pride instead of seeing them as weaknesses that required an apology.
I learned to care more to make up for those who care less.
I learned to say this is me, and not apologize.
All of this I learned. And now I learn one more lesson I thought I already knew. I am learning to grieve, because until Tina died I didn’t really understand what it meant. Now I do and my next lesson will take a great deal of time. I will have to learn how to live with it. But I will get there.
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