“Are you afraid to fly?” the man next to me asked. I watched as the ground, the land, the red-dirt, pulled away from us, never turning my gaze away from the window, head bowed, shaking it. No. No. My tears. My pain. My heavy…was traveling to, and then back home from Oklahoma for the second time in a year, because someone was dead. I’d been sat next to a stranger instead of being able to sit with my brother because, well, last-minute tickets. Said stranger tried to give me the, “there, there, it’ll all be alright, little girl” kind of reassurance despite having no context. Only silent tears. And, what I wanted to say in my haze was, “we’re all gonna die.” But that may have come off as dramatic. Or worse.
I think that’s one of the hardest parts for me. It’s not only sustaining the weight of the death at hand, but also that of every death that came before and every death that is to come. Sheer. Overwhelm. I’m gutted at the thought of my beloveds dying before me. Every time someone I love dies my grief cry is, “I don’t know how much more of this I can take. It hurts.”
That flight was in November. Now it’s June. Father’s Day is upon us. In honor, I sent a photo to my cousin, of her little grandson helping carry her daddy’s flag-covered casket. When he’d taken a hold of the casket and started helping move it towards the hearse, he’d proclaimed “Hey, this is easy!” Having had to bear no substantial weight, it was “easy.” Far from what it felt like to any of us. Because, death is hard. And because, traveling out of state to bury your uncle, five months after your brother — who was named for your uncle — died, is hard. Robert Alexander and Robert Alexander. June fourteenth will be one year since brother Robert died. One year since I hopped on the first plane. One year since I said goodbye to the first of my siblings, of which there are nine. The more you have, the more you have to lose.
How this translates, is that, yes. We’re all gonna die. We are going to carry, and bury our people. And it sucks. And it compounds. Earl Grollman said “Grief is not a disorder, a disease, or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical, and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.” So, love hard and grieve hard, my friends. In the words of Nayyirah Waheed “Grieve so that you can feel something else.”