After Kanye West visited Trump Tower to “discuss life” with the President-elect, I became convinced we live in the twilight zone. For all intents and purposes though, we are citizens of the real world (i.e. Planet Earth). Glad to be here, but blessed to also claim citizenship in a different world. A world that exists in a faraway place, population size: two.
The creation of Our Planet was unplanned. 100% organic. “I” became “we.” “Me” became “us.” And we lived through it all. We laughed hard. We were honest. We cried. We encouraged one another. We learned from each other. We taught each other. We shared everything. We cared. We came to each other’s rescue. We danced. We prayed. We exchanged real love. Friends could visit Our Planet, but never stay permanently because it was ours. Our world was filled with the kind of love that urged us share the good news. Love that had us doing all the things we swore we would never do. Love that provided energy and purpose. Love that made us feel immortal.
A month ago, Our Planet imploded. Population size dropped to one. It was sudden. Very quickly I realized that what worked in our world may not work in the real world. Suffering a great loss is humbling. Not only is it a reminder that we are all mere mortals, but it negates future plans. Joanne the Scammer’s classic line, “That’s over. It’s cancelled,” has new meaning. What’s even worse is that sudden death devalues present plans or actions, meaning all the things I recently completed or planned to do in the near future no longer mattered.
After work I’ll stop by the beauty supply store, buy some wine, and then we will meet around 7:00.
We have to go to a birthday party tomorrow night, let me remind him.
Next week, we’ll be home for Thanksgiving, so we can buy my new couch there and take it back to D.C.
I can’t even tell you what I bought from the beauty supply store on that cold Friday evening. Clearly, we didn’t go to the party on Saturday. By the time I got home for Thanksgiving, I forgot about the couch.
Losing my love exposed my greatest strength: getting things done. He celebrated life and his life was formally celebrated – I made sure of it. His death also displayed my weakness: the inability to see the bright side. It’s hard, but there is a silver lining. We embodied true love. Some people live for a long time and never experience it. I am grateful for our divine, authentic connection. However, the physical absence of my friend is unacceptable. It’s dreadfully quiet. Nothing excites me. I make an effort to avoid the conditional or past tenses. He would love that, no, no…he loves that. I am delusional. Still waiting on that phone call. Listening for the knock on the door. Hoping for lightning to strike to signify that he’s here. Distractions are somewhat helpful. Idle time is troubling. Wine isn’t water (note to self). Grief is physically painful. It keeps me up at night. Getting out of bed in the morning is a struggle. My stomach is killing me. All foods taste the same. I am despondent. I am livid. Man, I should have been there. If I was there, maybe…
Amidst anguish and anger, I’ve become obsessed with analyzing the strength of love versus the fragility of life. Love conquers all, except death. R&B singer Debra Laws said, “Love is life and life is loving.” If that’s the case how do you live when someone you love loses their life? How can you allow yourself to fall so deeply in love knowing that life in the physical sense isn’t promised? What’s the point in being loved from afar? If you can’t see someone, touch them, look them in the eye, how can you express your love to them?
No one told me that with tragedy comes a steady stream of unsolicited advice. It’s as if everyone knows my head is full of questions and they feel the need to give answers.
“He will always be with you.” Yes, the body goes, but the spirit never dies… I know that much.
“Your life can’t stop.” The 1,504 emails in my inbox, 55 unread text messages in my personal phone, dirty clothes in my closet that could probably get up and walk by themselves, and three-week old pasta in my refrigerator prove that you’re wrong.
“He would want you to be happy.” Thanks for stating the obvious.
“It is what it is.” Let me guess, you majored in philosophy.
“One day you will think about him and smile.” I am always capable of thinking about him and smiling – even the day after I got the awful news, I thought about him and smiled. That’s how much I love him.
“Girl, he loved you.” It’s loves and more than you know.
“Nothing is promised.” Noted.
“You have the rest of your life ahead of you.” Do I? Because you just said nothing is promised.
Please understand, I sincerely appreciate the words of affirmation, and of course in real life I simply say thank you. The unspoken retorts in italics are fleeting, grief-stricken thoughts that I’d say freely on Our Planet, because it’s a judgment-free zone.
The great sea of voluntary advisors had an oddball, an individual who replaced a comeback with a question and asked, “What would he say to you?” Initially, I gave an arbitrary response, “I don’t know, he would say he loves me.” A few days later, I thought about some of the things he would say, one of them was “Be specific.” So, I got more specific. What would he say to me about searching for explanations as to why the strength of love doesn’t make life less fragile? “The answer is right in front of you Rion.” He always says that. If I close my eyes, I can see his face as he says it. And it dawned on me, I can’t rely on the interpretations of others.
My process is my process. That’s the answer.
At this point in my process, I am narrowly floating. Physical and mental energy ebbs and flows. Friends say, “I am impressed with your strength.” In general, being strong is instinctive – except when the attendant at the corner store says, “Where is that cheerful man of yours? You be sure to tell him hello for me.” Will do.
Tears are unpredictable.