“Your body may be gone, I’m gonna carry you in.
In my head, in my heart, in my soul.
And maybe we’ll get lucky and we’ll both live again.
Well I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. Don’t think so.
Well that is that and this is this.
You tell me what you want and I’ll tell you what you get.
You get away from me. You get away from me.”
– Modest Mouse
Boston’s “Don’t Look Back,” pushed the limits of the car stereo capacity and the speakers started to crackle like the end of my mom’s freshly-lit Virginia Slim.
The wind blew threw my hair as I leaned slightly out the window of the passenger side of my mother’s Jeep Grand Cherokee. Highway 96 felt like Route 66 and our destination was nowhere.
I was just a boy. I didn’t understand or even know what was happening inside my mother’s head, but I could feel it.
I could always feel it.
The “it” I felt was the darkness, hers. Her experience of them, however, isn’t something I am willing to speculate about. Depression and anxiety and everything that comes alongside them are very personal.
I went to go see my mother after her partner Bonnie died from diabetes and heart disease. For the last 23 years of her life, Mom was partnered to a woman I considered a mentor and a parent. A woman that I loved deeply.
Mom’s frame was skeletal. She came up gave me a big hug in the driveway, and I could feel the waves of pain flying from her aura like tsunamis emanating from a nuclear core.
The last time I saw my mother alive, she was shaken, scared, angry and confused. The weight of everything was too much, and she took the path out, not the path through.
Being an unmarried lesbian couple in Georgia doesn’t offer a lot of affordances for a widow in Georgia. Especially when things are left unspoken and unsettled. The job is then left to lesser beings. People who bring their own baggage into the mix. People who’d be better off doing anything else.
I don’t write to make myself a pity magnet. That’s not interesting or helpful.
I write to collect the jigsawed pieces of a broken mirror that my insides have become and try to make sense of things. I am weaker than I think I am. I am stronger than I imagined I could be. The pain, worse than I could ever imagine. The pain is bearable. I have dried my eyes. My tears continue to pool in the darkness, waiting to find a way out. I can’t do this. I can do this. I’m not okay. I am okay. I will never fully heal.
So then, what is left to do but continue?
“Time is a flat circle. Everything we have done or will do we will do over and over and over again-—forever.”
Nietzsche’s Doctrine of Eternal Recurrence.
All of my memories are like an echo chamber, and grief is deafeningly loud and silent. And it moves in concentric circles. Not a timeline. Whatever it is – it’s tidal – it’s stacked – it’s untranslatable.
What is, however translatable, is becoming an ally. As I encounter more people who are baffled by grief, I see that we’re in this thing together. Losing someone to suicide is a special experience that I don’t wish on anyone, but I can say that, it the wake of its chaos, I have discovered new depths of tenderness and empathy. I have discovered new layers of resilience I didn’t imagine myself capable of. And for every frailty, there is a strength on the other side.
And for every feeling of isolated brokenness, there is reconciliation and community.