It’s so funny how when we go through things in life how we can manage to find the strength to keep going. We keep going through the motions systematically. It’s like a milder version of flight and fight. Something so traumatic, so sensitive, so personal and so fatal can happen in our lives that can make us go idle. I wrote this wondering how I’ve gotten to this point. I look back at numerous occasions that took emotional tolls on my life and I look at where I am and wonder how’d I make it here.
December 28, 2011: Bobby Ray Bell
My parent’s anniversary. I was at home with my sister and her now husband. I’d just finished eating a breakfast he’d prepared for us all. We were obsessively watching Netflix and had just selected a movie. We were settled in the family room when… The phone began to ring, the house phone. My sister answered. My sister never answers the phone, especially the house phone. I over heard her say, “Happy Anniversary!”, so I knew it was my parents. Then I literally heard her scream. She dropped the phone and began crying hysterically. My now brother in law, and I made eye contact. We ran to her. “Uncle Ray! He died!” she screamed. I, nonchalantly, picked up the phone. I finished the call with my parents, and told my brother in law my sister would be fine. Fast forward to the funeral… I cried the whole way there, the entire ceremony, and at the burial site. He was my favorite uncle.
January 25, 2014: Keith Henry Simmons
I was at the apple store with my link and her sister. The day already presented itself as a difficult start. We’d had car trouble and barely made our apple appointments. I actually think we had called and they gave us later appointments in the day. Apple had just hard reset my phone and I was trying to bring up the iCloud back up. We were still waiting on my sorority sister’s phone, so I was still in the store. My phone rang with a 501 area code. I answered to hear my older cousin requesting my father’s phone number. My heart dropped. I immediately said I would text it to him while trying to stay positive. The thing is, my uncle had been in and out of the hospital sick…severely sick. I just remember it feeling late when we left. We were in the drive thru at McDonald’s when my father called. I answered while they ordered. I wasn’t hungry. I asked my father if he’d heard from my cousin. His voice was heavy and full of grief. The first tear rolled down my face. He proceeded to share that my Uncle Keith had passed away. I held it together long enough to hang up the phone. I turned my face into the seat of the car and balled hysterically, yet silently, all the way from Chenal Parkway in Little Rock to Pine Bluff, an hour long drive.
February 25, 2015: Jannie Vera Johnson
I’d cooked the day before and convinced my best friend, at that time, to come over. He wound up spending the night. I used to love talking him to sleep. I was at a controversial emotional point in my life, kind of like I am now. I remember going to sleep pretty late. Right before falling asleep, I saw school was cancelled for the next day, in response I didn’t set any alarms. I woke up the next morning to my friend scrolling through his phone as most people do when they wake up. It was about 9am and I grabbed for my phone as well. My eyes widened as I saw all the missed notifications from immediate family. One in particular that alarmed me. It was from my Uncle Henry who rarely ever texted if it wasn’t a special occasion. The text started out saying, “We are so sorry to hear…” I immediately stop reading and returned my father’s call. His voice was sweet and light this time. He suggested that I might sit down. My heart just began to beat rapidly as he spoke the bad news. He rushed me off the phone this time. My friend sat across from me on the other couch as I just glared. He already knew. He left shortly after. I searched for someone to turn to, but was unable to meet the presence of an individual I desired to be around. I cried. I cried aimlessly on and off the entire day. I tried watching tv. I declined almost every call. I ignored almost every text. I angered at the person I wanted to be there the most not doing “enough” in my time of grief.
December, January, and February. Most people view them as Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s and/or Mardi Gras. At least that’s where I was when my grandmother had her surgery that I would later find out that she would never recover from. These months, for my family, for myself, bring certain unwelcomed memories back to back. I know, for myself, I deal with death terribly. By terrible, I mean leave my phone on DND, locked in the car, sit in the dark on the couch in silence, and drop 10lbs in a week “I don’t have an appetite.”
In 2016/2017, I haven’t had people physically die that are close to me, but instead metaphorically. In fact, my best friend that was there when I received the news about my grandmother was one of the first, I noticed. I think our friendship began suffering in December but expired late February. Literally almost a year exactly after my grandmother expired he blocked me on every social media platform as well as his phone. I imagine I’m blocked from his email, but I hate emailing so I wouldn’t even care to know. A week, seven days, short of my grandmother’s date and two days after we had the biggest fight we’ve ever had in our friendship for the first time in my life I’d been blocked as I lost one of the greatest friends I’ve ever known.
Despite the heartbreak the loss of that friendship brought, I had to respect the direct approach taken. The second friend I lost was a downhill battle that started in November 28, 2015 and lost all its zeal January 6, 2016. The only block that was present this time was an emotional block. I couldn’t believe it. I’d grew up with this person and didn’t want to accept the eminent end of our blossoming friendship. I remember running in my house straight to my room that night after having a “heated” discussion with him. My mom came by my room to ask if I was ok, something that generally never happens, and I responded crying, “I think boys are stupid! Very stupid!” That “expiration date” is relived every time I get to run into him or we have awkward exchanges of communications. I hate that part.
This year’s selection of relationships to expire… I’m not even going to grant the universe that satisfaction. What I will say is, I hated to see all of the people physical leave my life but each individual taught me indispensable lessons that have helped mature traits I never thought could get stronger. If anything I just feel sensitive ALL OF THE TIME. I love harder than I ever have before, in my life. I’m more forgiving and slower to react to upset/heartbreaks/let downs. I value positive energy and meaningful relationships like never before. I appreciate true human interaction in real life time and cherish every moment I can have of it. I take the opportunity to say how I feel instead of waiting for the perfect time.
I’ve been having a hard time in 2017. A hard time in real life time and in my emotional life. My memories of the past have been doing a tremendous job of colliding with the real life struggles I’ve been experiencing. I actually feel as though as soon as February hit I started in a downward spiral. Last year, I had more positive fillers to occupy my mind. I went to mardi gras, school didn’t seem IMPOSSIBLE, and I was still dealing with the lover’s quarrel (positive enough to add to the list, right?). This year, no. I’ve felt adversity since the beginning of the year. I’ve cried more this year than I ever have in a complete 12 months. I’m overwhelmingly challenged by my final semester in school. And, I recently started binge watching Grey’s Anatomy after being home with the flu for a week. If you ever watched the series, you know it only adds to emotional instability.
Today, the 24th of February, I remembered a lot of things. I remembered everything’s not about me (or you). Actually most time, it’s not about you and you act modest when things are all about you. Stop choking in the limelight, good or bad. Love is worth taking the risk. Unless, it’s more appeasing to be A hypochondriac. Love shouldn’t be something you’re afraid of and to express to those you care about. You might be the first close to unconditional love experience they’ve ever felt. The risk is worth taking, not necessarily for the other human but for self. It’s not healthy to encapsulate love. I remembered that sometimes you have to be there a little more for the people you care about because their too emotionally unavailable to be there for you, let alone themselves. That platonic healthy friendships are just as important to nurture as a “relationship” because that is how they grow. That’s it’s ok to be honest, transparent, and human. God created us in his image but we are by far not as perfect as Him.
It’s ok to let people physically go. Whether it be they walk out your life or take their last breath. With all being said and done, you have to use all the best memories to defend your heart and mind from all the pain their absence may bring. Pray that the time you shared with them in fellowship wasn’t in vain, was impactful for the development of both peoples. That you’re energy in conjunction with your light are shining brighter than ever.
The truth. People leave our lives all the time. People who may have looked up to us. That we possibly may have let down. People who may have been in love with us, but we never even noticed how much they cared. People who are takers and after we gave all we had, they left. The point I’m trying to make is, I don’t really know. I will say life’s too short not to be aware. Aware that you’re someone’s role model, someone’s dream significant other, or too great to be taking advantage of… Life’s not done tearing you a part, yet, but look for what great hope and faith can bring to help you through the struggle. I’m wildly compassionate and a lot of times for the wrong people. That may have played a role in how I missed out on more real life time with all those listed above. I’ve learned that now. After waking up one day wondering, how’d I make it here? After enduring so many deaths, so many heartbreaks, so many obstacles I’m learning.