Thoughts on Death a Year Later

Right before Megs moved away, she held a writing workshop. I went, because I want to write more, and I wanted and needed to spend time with her and her guidance. 

This is one of the writing prompts:

What I can’t tell you is {...} But what I CAN tell you is {...} 

This is what came out, from heart to mind, from pen to paper...

My reflections on Kelly Call's death, a year ago today. How grief has affected my day-to-day, missing her every single one of them.

What I can’t tell you is what happens when you die. But I can tell you what it’s like to still be alive. What it feels like, to live with two weights, one on each shoulder. One is life, and the goodness that resides in the everyday beauty. The other is grief. Maybe it’s more like wearing a yoke, or a vise that randomly seezes and squeezes one’s heart. Like a back spasm (I can tell you about those, now, too). It takes your breath way. To realise that your best friend’s early body is no longer walking around, eating, cracking bad jokes, laughing and crying and yelling into the void next to you. 

I can tell you how it feels, to imagine her holding your hand and hearing her voice in your memory. How shattering it can be. At the same time, life is good- like really, fucking grand, this life. Love is strong, the house is getting better and better and the kitten has brokered a feisty peace between the older two cats. Food so good you cry still happen. Getting stuck in an orchard field, picking apples you two were always talking about picking- that happens too. Crying over your fish & chips happens, as you try to sort out how to renovate a kitchen without your best friend. The woman who became your source of wisdom, as it revolved around people and food; how food is love and the kitchen is her, and love is the kitchen.

And there are too many goddamn sinks to choose from. 

And then you connect the dots from a different angle and realize another dear friend builds houses and can help narrow your choices down. So you order the sink. You sit with the bitterness of missing, as it blends with the honey-sweetness of reconnection and deepening friendships. 

Actually, you do that a lot. A best friend dying by a proverbial lightning strike means living with the duality of deep dark pain of love, and the shinning brightness of love all in one breath. It means getting your paperwork in order. Grief creates a twilight- or a dawn, if you’re a morning person like me (and mourning, too). A dawn that lets you see the night, and a sunrise to remind you to KEEP LIVING- and to live well. 

That is the way to honor the dead. To live well and invite them into your heart. They’ll come out in your work, art, writing, bathing, cooking, goal-listing. Sometimes they’ll send a warning shot, other times those fucking beautiful souls will pop you right on the heart asking for a cup of tea as you drive home from work. They have all the time in the world {and we do not}

This is what I can tell you. There is life after death, but I can’t tell you if there is life after dying. I am still here, living on the earth without them, without her, by my side. But they are still here, and I will turn to them for guidance and ask questions with answers I can hear them say. This is goodness. This is hard, this what living fully must be. Pain and Joy all spun together in one thread. 

I can tell you- it’s ok to miss them, I’ve missed her every day this year. I’ll keep missing her, (especially when I bake something really excellent). It’s ok to set aside how much you miss their earthly souls until it stops you in your tracks with the foreverness of it all. It is all okay, you will be okay, too. Let yourself feel whatever is bubbling up to the surface. Don’t push them down, if it can be helped. Bring them back up when you feel you’re in a safe place to say hello and feel it, the hurting honor of loving someone who has died. FEEL them, they are yours, no one else’s, and no one else can tell you what to do (not me, that’s for sure) or how to work through it. There is so much beauty in owning your grief, whether it’s loud and screaming, or quiet and sighing. Let your life be beautiful, they want it to be beautiful. Let them come in, and listen to their guidance from the beyond. They still love you, just as much as you love them. 

I can tell you I need to share these thoughts, so they’re out there in the world. Grief needs to be spoken about, not hidden away like something to be ashamed of. Grief is the badge we wear that echoes the love we feel for those who are gone. Death needs to be opened back up to the world, not closed off, all alone.

We’ll all die, someday. Let us live in love while we’re breathing. 

My sweet Kelly Call, you’ve been gone for a year. I don’t know how we’ve managed, but here we are, I wish you could come have some cake and see the kitchen. You’d love it. I miss you.