The mark of growing older is the realization that everything you want is just an echo of something you used to have.
People come to me after their loved ones died–looking for solace, asking for comfort, wondering how to reallocate grief.
How do I tell them that there is no answer? That at twelve, the only solace was found underneath damp eyelids and soaked pillows? That the only comfort was the belief in the unconsciousness; that the only allocation of grief was from my heart to my mind until I forced my own, sick, manic responsibility for your death?
There is no refuge for your only fear; there is no answer to your own mortality. One day your heroes will die and become your memories. One day your heroes will die and lay beneath the soil you’ll watch strange men bury. One day your heroes will die–and you’ll be the only part of them left living.
It’s not about forgetting. It’s not about placing you into a heaven in the sky; like the shelves of altars at churches people no longer pray to. It’s not about committing sacrilege to find peace. The absence of your body is not the disappearance of your soul.
Your death was never a denunciation of a father; never a renunciation of me as your daughter.
My friends wanted me to explain the feeling. My counselor wanted me to talk to her through my five stages of grief. My mother wanted me to swallow my tears until they stopped.
I wanted to tell them it was all bullshit.
There’s nothing that anyone can ever tell you about the pain that’ll ever prepare you for it. Nothing that anyone can ever tell you about death if you’ve never experienced it. It’s like losing the integral organs of your body but still living. It’s like not understanding why any part of you still works. Not understanding why you’re breathing without wanting to–how you can exist without the will nor want to live.
That was my first step.
The second is realizing the parts of you lost were vestigial in physicality, but aortic in function. Every morning you will still wake up, put on your clothes, carry your book bag and go to the school where everyone existed as they did the day before. Every single night, you will sleep in the same bed, cry the same tears, repeat the same steps when you wake up, and suddenly not give a single fuck.
The third is the way you’ll beg to do anything to exist like you used to. You’ll find yourself on your knees, asking to trade your arms for hands because it makes sense in the way it can’t–because if it doesn’t maybe you’ll bleed out and the pain will be over and everything will be fine again; because the unconscious is the only second of time there is and was never a you to die. You’ll find yourself doing things you never imagined, for a feeling you could never forget.
The fourth is realizing the you that used to exist doesn’t. That the Jenny with a father will always smile more freely; laugh a little more carelessly, love a little more loosely than the Jenny without. That there is a dichotomy between who you are becoming and who you used to be. That the only A.D and B.C left in your timeline are the markers before and after the November 23rd of your death.
The fifth is figuring out that just because people die–doesn’t mean they’re ever gone. The fifth is understanding that you left but did not leave; that a hero doesn’t have to be alive to be living–doesn’t have to be breathing to be inspiring.
How do I explain that the mourning of your death was not about you at all?
How do I explain that to grieve a loss means to accept your own passing; to accept the you that no longer exists? To accept that the person you were was someone you could never be again; but the person you’ll be is the one you could never imagine–because you were capable of loving enough to be forced to comprehend losing.
How do I explain that the death of your hero
only means the birth
of the one inside of you?