On Loss and Love

Nothing you love is lost. Not really. Things, people–they always go away sooner or later. You can’t hold them anymore than you can hold moonlight. But if they’ve touched you, if they’re inside you, then they’re still yours. The only things you ever really have are the ones you hold inside your heart.
– Bruce Coville

It was a Sunday. 8:08 a.m. on October 13, 2013, to be exact. The ringing of my cell phone brought me back from dreams to reality. A crying voice on the other line – my boyfriend’s mother. Something was wrong. Something was very wrong. I knew her to be a strong and courageous woman – and such a person wouldn’t call her son’s girlfriend on a Sunday morning unless something was horribly wrong. She couldn’t reach him, she told me. She was sorry for calling me so early, but her son – asleep next to me – wasn’t picking up his phone. And in that moment, the strong and courageous woman I had met multiple times before seemed so lost on the other line – so much so that I wanted to morph into my iPhone, come out the other side, and hug her. No words, no sounds, just a hug. Just some semblance of comfort – but I’m sure she was getting that from those closer to her.

I passed the phone to my boyfriend. He sat straight up, and the only word he could utter was what? There were so many what’s going on in my own head. What happened? What went wrong? What’s going on? What needs to be done? What can I do?

I needed to do something. I needed to be told to do something. Anything. It was my job to take that pained look away. And just like that, the phone call was over. Silence hung in the air. Tears hung in his eyes. And I was at a loss for words.

What happened? – that was my statement of brilliance. But it was all I could muster at the time.

My cousin was killed by a train last night. – his response. Solemn. Quiet. Disbelief.

I pulled him towards me and just held him. The morning sun was creeping through the windows, but there was no warmth to be felt. Not this morning. That Sunday morning was tragic, surreal, unimaginable.

To think that this world had lost a 25-year-old man, an adventurer coming into his own, the person that was a big brother to my boyfriend – how could he be…gone?

People say that life is unfair, life is cruel. But really, life is not to blame. Death is the unfair one. It’s the cruel one. And this death was particularly unkind. And in every way, unwarranted. Every single law of nature was broken when he died. No parent should have to bury their child, no grandparent should have to bury their grandchild, and no one should leave this Earth before their time.

But Death breaks those laws. Because it is cruel and unfair and unyielding in its wake. To the living, death is permanent. It is a state of being for which we have no answers. We have our faith systems, our beliefs, but no concrete answers. All we are left with is the love and memories we have of that person. The love, the memories, they might be intangible, but they are also timeless.

I spent yesterday in a haze with my boyfriend. There were times where he would cry, I would cry. And it almost felt wrong, that I was crying. I should easily be the strong one – I didn’t necessarily know his cousin all that well, did I?

But maybe, in some respects, I can say I did. I not only cried because Death had brought so much pain onto the one person I loved most, but because I knew that this world had lost someone great. I know my boyfriend, and I know his family, and they are the kindest, most generous people. And I know his cousin was one in the same. I remember meeting him on Thanksgiving last year. He was goofy, he was kind, and knew how to make everyone laugh. I know that might sound cliché, but it’s true. From what I saw, he was just filled with an abundance of happiness, and it seemed like all he wanted to do was share that happiness with those that meant the most to him.

The family that knows nothing but love – well, I couldn’t believe something so horrible would happen to them. While my boyfriend’s beliefs aren’t as strong, I have a firm belief in God. But all I could think of yesterday was screaming at Him – asking Him why He was making this family hurt so much? Why would He take their loved one away? This family, this beautiful, wonderful, welcoming family, they deserve better.

For most of yesterday, my boyfriend and I sat in silence. I held his hand, let him rest his head against my chest, and soothed him in the best way I knew how – through my actions. I tried to make him smile, make him laugh, made sure he ate enough for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I had to be his support, his foundation – just like he’d done for me countless times before.

So many questions, and so much left unanswered. It was so…open-ended. From experiencing death in my own family before, I know how surreal it feels when you’ve first heard that your loved one is gone from this world. We all go through those five stages of grief – the denial, the anger, the bargaining, depression, and hopefully, we make it to acceptance. Not necessarily an understanding, but maybe we learn to accept that our loved one is in a better place. That they want us to keep on living, if not for ourselves, then definitely for them. Maybe we learn to hope again. To let the death fill us – pierce our heart and souls. We are allowed to experience and to feel things fully, we are allowed to mourn and to cry. For it’s in our moments of weakness where we truly learn how strong we are. And in letting our loss fill us, we not only grieve, but we also learn to remember and cherish. We grieve that those loved ones are no longer with us, but we remember how well they lived, how their presence bettered this world and our own lives, and we cherish the incredible and unforgettable memories. Now and always.

And those that have passed on – well, I believe they’re never really gone. We carry them with us – in our minds, our souls, our hearts. They walk through life with us. And we may not be able to see them now, but I know all of us will see our loved ones again. Death is not the end. It’s merely a temporary reality that we all have experience. We endure, and our friend Time does help along the way. But no, it is not the end. So for all of the loved ones that we have lost, we will meet again. In time and in love.

Comments

  1. Carrie Fritz says:

    Beautiful.

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