I never skipped a grade or played up on a sports team. I didn’t have a little sister or brother to guide through the milestones in life. I wasn’t the first to break my virginity and didn’t try marijuana until my senior year of college. Oddly and I guess most would say sadly, the only area where I have experienced being early in any area is death. By the time I was 27, I experienced the loss of my parents, my grandparents, my teenage neighbor, a friend, and aunts and uncles.
I am the Beethoven of grieving: I’ve scaled up and down through the 7 stages, each rendition a little different.
So, now, that I am at the age where sadly my friends are losing their parents, I feel as if I am an expert and that I should have the “right” words. I desperately want to have that mother’s magic, where the right touch or words can make everything better. But, instead of making me more eloquent, it seems that empathy has rendered me mute.
Because… I know.
I know that the well-meaning “I’m sorry,” uttered out my sweet loved ones mouths felt akin to someone putting a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound.
I know that when people when tell me that they understood, all I could think was that they absolutely did not. They didn’t understand how close we were. They didn’t understand how severely my life was altered. They didn’t understand how much I had loss.
I know that when people would say that “he or she is in a better place”, I would think “No, the best place is here, with me.”
I know that when people would ask, “how are you feeling?” I would, at times, want to scream,” how in the fuck do you think I am feeling?”
I know. This expertise has taught me that there are no right words, no magic. Time is the only medication. And truthfully, even it doesn’t heal, but it will make the pain less unyielding. In the meantime, when the pain is raw (and even when it isn’t), I know that I will be there saying the well-meaning, “I’m sorry”, checking to see how they are feeling and letting them know that I understand. Although I know it’s not enough, that and my love, regrettably, is all I have.
My intention is for Black people to love themselves and each other. It sounds somewhat silly, I guess; but oftentimes my people are overwhelmed with negative images, bad news, and stereotyped characters about us. I’d like to flip that script. I’d like to remind us, as often as I can, how incredible we are. Read more