In my sorrow I see the worth

It’s 3:38 a.m. I SHOULD be sleeping, I have bronchitis and I need my rest. The sun will rise and with it, my precious turtle, and there will be the daily matter of her schooling and just the general life happenings that occur on a daily basis at the Turtle Tipi.

But I’m not sleeping.

I was sleeping, but as so often happens of late, I woke up. I don’t remember what for. And then, I began thinking and feeling and my eyes started leaking, thus, here I am.  Leaking, is how I cry these days. I’ve literally made myself stop crying because the pain has been too great to bear, so then my eyes start leaking and I realize my body/heart/soul is trying to cry.  I’ve been hit with so many tragic events, that If I were to look into my own heart, there would be walled off sections, wherein each person I’ve lost is ensconced. This bronchitis I’m suffering from, it’s directly related to my conscious choice to not grieve. We hold sorrow in our lungs, and my lungs are full up of sorrow. It’s time to let it go. I’m not usually a holder-on-er* of things, but I’ve spun off the road of life and landed in a ditch and have been silently contemplating my next step. (READ: for MONTHS)   So, it’s time to talk.

The latest death was a dear friend, TW, who changed my life and my work forever. Had it not been for him, I’d be a zoologist right now. he’s the one who told an eager, chomping at the bit 24-year-old that “Yes, I believe you can make your living as a writer.” I took his words, ran with them, and never looked back. I immortalized him in the Canadian magazine that I used to write for. Thankfully, it was a few years ago and he was able to see it.  It lessens his passing in the smidgest* of ways. His wife had contacted me to inform me of his passing, she said, “We wanted you to know because your friendship meant so much to him.” That meant a lot because I thought so highly of him.  ( “We” refers to she and her daughter, who I had vicariously watched grow up) *Yes,holder-on-er and  smidgest are made-up Mary words. Get used to it.**

Two (or three, time fuzzes over, a bit like mold) weeks ago, my 13-year-old niece R passed away unexpectedly. That was, and remains, HARD for me. I literally had to turn myself OFF because it was (and is) too much. I lose ALL my ability to be ethereal and metaphysical. She was a large presence in her world and she was so important to us, that we are all smarting a bit from her passing. I don’t like using the term, “It’s not fair.” but in this case, it absolutely is NOT FAIR, and makes me want to run a mile of curse words from my mouth, simply to make the immense pain in my heart that is stuck like an object I’m choking on, disperse. I openly prevent myself from crying over her loss. That feels like a double edge sword. It’s not to dishonor her or take anything from who she was and what she meant, it is simply that I fear if I let myself cry, I’m going to completely LOSE it and never recover. I can’t even imagine what her mother is going through. Her mother is one amazing person herself. Talk about nerves of steel.  During the wake and funeral, I threw myself into helping because it was something, it was active, it was a distraction from the reality that sat at the front of that funeral home, After the burial, I busied myself with the feed and when that began to wrap up, I safely left her in the hands of immediate relatives and went home and slept. A conscious act of numbing out and disengaging. I’ve continued to check on my cousin and see my nieces and nephews, but we all are silently aware of the hole that R left in our hearts. What makes me feel even worse is, I can’t even talk about it. Which seems so stupid, I’m the writer, my words provide my living and yet here when words are needed I have none. What makes it worse is, I’m an unintentional asshole because I can’t even talk to her mother about it. I can ask, “How are you?” “Do you need anything?” But beyond that, I must remain quiet, or I know I will start crying and that is not okay. The mistake (I think) people make when someone has died is they pour their grief onto the person who directly lost the loved one (the mother in this case) and so the person/people grieving then have to be responsible for taking care of someone else’s feelings/grief, etc. I could not do that to her, who has had to walk through hell and back before this most recent loss.

So, I knowingly choose dysfunction, and I keep my damn mouth shut. Which is a detriment to me of course, hence, here I sit at 4:30 in the morning, typing furiously so the tears don’t come.  R IS so missed. She had such a huge life force. She was funny, kind, loving, smart and beautiful. Those are such weak metaphors for who she was, and what she meant, but that is all I can even do right now. Sometimes the words of my heart don’t translate through my mouth or hands very well.

Becuase the bottom line is this, it fucking sucks, it’s not fucking fair, and there will be no fucking answers forthcoming. Yah, we can all be ethereal about it and say, “She’s in a better place now, etc.” but that’s utter bullshit in the faces of those grieving her, those who all very much loved her and very much were not ready for our time with her to be over. NOT FAIR!! What hurts for me with her, are the anniversary type things.. Halloween is coming up, that’s a big thing around here, her birthday, ugh, it’s all the little things, the way loved ones are weaved into the fabric of your life and cannot be unwoven, even in death. The threads are still there, no matter how much time goes by. One thread laid down next to another, next to another, that all make up the tapestry of humanity.  I know over time the pain will lessen, but right now, TODAY, and days previous, it HURTS horrifically.

Two week before R’s passing, my long time friend from college EM was murdered. What do I hate more than death? The unjustified killing of someone I love and an unresolved murder. It won’t be investigated. Oh, I’m sorry, it will be, “investigated”, but the evidence will be “inconclusive.” And knowing how tribal investigation works makes it all the harder for me. I know why he was killed. It was not over money.or possessions. That makes it even harder for me. He was my friend, I loved him for his life presence. He was kind and warm and so funny. I will miss him dearly. I will miss the presence he brought to this life.

But in death, there is nothing. Nothing I can grab and shake the hell out of, nothing I can point to, nothing I can throw against a wall so it shatters into a million pieces.   Death is something I have struggled with for so long. It’s a leaving, a losing, an end that can never be reversed. In these last two years, I have become much more fragile than in years previous, so my abandonment kicks in hard. I love my family and friends, and I wish them to remain with me thank you very much. Call me selfish. Call me crazy. Call me human.

You see, sometimes I think I love too much, too deeply, too often. Not, at all in a naive way, just in the way I am, the only way I know how to be in this world, 100% and with my heart as wide open as it can possibly be, so as to scoop up all those who need love. And EVERYONE needs love. Period. I swear if people hugged more, the world would be a different place. That sounded really cheesy, but in a raw way, that is exactly how I feel. I didn’t set out to be this way, I wish (sometimes) I didn’t love so deep, so wide, so much; because the losses are so painful for me.

My husband says one of the things he loves about me is that I’m like an !. And, I do too. I love so deeply, and I see the humanity in everyone, which is a mixed blessing. But the way I see it is, the alternative is to not love, to not reach out to others. If I didn’t do that, then think about all the amazing people I would miss out on knowing. Humanity is like water, you can’t take your bit of water and meet up with another one’s water and not have it flow into each other.

I spent my childhood thinking I wasn’t wanted, being told I was a horrible person, being told I didn’t matter to anyone, and it made me feel small and unimportant. I felt like I could have hurled myself off the nearest cliff  and no one would have cared. It was a horrible, lonely, awful feeling. I vowed that if I made it out of that war zone alive, I’d make sure I never made anyone else feel that way. I’d make sure that people knew they mattered, to the world and to me.

As an adult, I look around at all the people I know and love and see that I do matter, as do they. Water flows in all directions, not just one way. Everyone is sacred, everyone matters. (I hope, obviously, you know what I mean) And while it hurts immensely to lose someone (or someones) I understand the alternative makes it worth it.

I just hope that EM, R, and TW knew that they made a difference, that they mattered to people and that they were so very much loved, not just by me, but by many others.

When you finish  reading this, hug your children, tell them you love them, that you are so grateful for their presence. Tell your friends/family you love them and are grateful for them, thank your wife or your husband (or significant other). Life is so precious, so fleeting, love as hard as you can, for as long as you can. Know that you matter and help those around you be aware that they matter.

Don’t get tripped up by the trivial bullshit in life, look into the sky and be happy that breath is coming out of your body.

In peace and turtles, MBB

Lakota Winyan.
Cunksi’s Ina.