about families after the death of a loved one

first, breathe.

i wish i could tell you that families come together after the death of a loved one.  that they miraculously fuse together at the bone.  but, it’s more likely that whatever weakness, whatever rift, even a tiny disturbance, is caught upon the mean glow of Death — and incited to a frenzy of actings up, rearings of ugly heads, and raging argument.  All families want to be fair, mothers to nod objectively upon the housework of the daughter, fathers to shoulder pat over the infractions of manliness by a son — siblings to slice the grief down the middle, each one carrying their equal part of suffering, guilt, and blame.  But there is nothing fair about Death, not even when she proceeds to take everything.  I wish grief was a simple act of crying, even for a long time.  But there are so many words that cut the veins of loved ones upon a dying breath.  Memories and symbols fill up a room even better than white lilies, standing spring bouquets, or even ribbons.  There is something painful in the face of all this losing, something that we are certain is a lesson meant just for us.  Yet no matter how many times that lesson is learned, we still struggle, baking sense out of nonsense, juggling hot pies, burning our hands, worried about the act of dropping.  Even within this cage — I think somehow we wake up one day after the death, and certain things become clear-er.  That we are the loved ones.  That we loved.  That we are hurt, even though we wish to deny this plain and simple fact.  We wonder about our own path.  We become certain that there is a togetherness ahead, and a minority become fervent that there is no such thing as reunion.  No after life.  No matter how empty the promises, how restless the night, we convince ourselves that we are ok.  In the end, we continue without endings because what we find is that no matter how hard we try, how heavy the burden, that death brings with it the terror of freedom.  We grip the bars, and we shake fiercely in defiance.

first, breathe.


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