death family friendship reflections
Moon, Winds, Spirit: Reflections on Living with Grief After a Loved One's Passing5/15/2015
by Kadon Douglas I awoke at 3 a.m. to a Facebook post from a close friend. It read: “I wonder how many souls the moon captures/On night...
by Kadon Douglas
I awoke at 3 a.m. to a Facebook post from a close friend. It read: “I wonder how many souls the moon captures/On nights when winds remain still/Yet spirits travel fearlessly.”
Someone she knew had passed away; his life swiftly taken in a motorcycle accident.
Soon I started to see several posts about his passing. Confusion. Disbelief. Pain. A deep, palpable sadness. I’m told that I knew him—we attended college at the same time and have many mutual friends. From photos, he looks familiar but I can’t place him. Despite our commonalities, we ran in different circles and I doubt we were ever visible to each other. At least I wasn’t. I spent most of my adolescence being invisible. This was mostly intentional, but there were many times I yearned to be seen and heard.
It’s never easy losing someone in your peer group, someone whose experiences are so intricately and purposefully intertwined with your own.
When my best friend Kami died I felt like someone had stolen a piece of me. So many of my memories included her. She was, regardless of our identical age, my “little sister.” She was the person I wanted to be—open, fun-loving, adventurous, outspoken—but was too afraid to become.
She was sick for a long time, but that never stopped her from living fully. Her big heart didn’t allow her to feel pity for herself. Instead it gushed out compassion for others, especially children. Kami loved children. She wanted her own and would have been an incredible mother.
The morning I got the call about her passing I felt heavy. I sat up in my bed, the sun unable to warm my soul. I sobbed, my face bathed in my grief. I had lost a friend, a sister, a part of me. I spent the rest of the day in my mother’s apartment, on her bed, curled up close to her. I grieved for Kami.
Grief infantilizes me. I crave the arms and laps of my parents. When my aunt died, I ran to my dad’s house. I found him on the veranda, bathed in his usual fragrance of marijuana, over-proof rum, and baked goods. Without question, he embraced me. He cradled me as I sobbed and shook. I was 18.
When my grandmother passed I had no one to run to. My dad was in Brooklyn. I feared holding my mom because I knew I lacked the strength to witness her breaking. I can never bear the sight of my mother’s tears or pain. Even eye contact is too overwhelming. Instead I held my son, cried silently in my ex’s car, and poured my heart out in short odes on Facebook. Waxing poetic about the metaphorical meanings of “passing” and “death,” and the strength and lessons my grandmother had bequeathed to me. It worked for a bit, but I felt hollow. I still feel hollow.
Recently I explained to someone, a stranger, that my grandmother’s death carved out a huge part of my soul. There is a physical emptiness. I feel like ever since I’ve been trying to fill that void—in vain, of course.
She visits me every now and then. My grandmother. Sometimes she holds me gently or stands at a distance and smiles. At times, she comes close and whispers old sayings or she simply laughs. A rather mocking laugh, sometimes jovial. She was always so mischievous and playful. Her presence calms me. Yet the hollowness remains and I weep for the loss of that part of me. She took a bit of my heart with her. And I fear loving anyone else (other than my son) that deeply again.
Despite not knowing the person my friend lost, I am comforted by his final Facebook post. It’s an image of Paulo Coelho and the quote: “One day you will wake up and there won’t be anymore time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.”
Eerie, huh? Eerie, but extremely apt. A beautiful reminder to live purposefully.
I hope these “final words” bring comfort to those who are hurting and/or are bewildered by his passing. He left a call to action: Live now. In a world so full of distractions, it’s easy to yield to excuses and procrastinate. In my adulthood I have lost so many people who played a significant role in my life: my grandmother, my first love, my best friend, two aunts, my colleague, and my great-uncle. However I find solace in the memories they’ve left me with.
The moon has captured their souls, yet in the still of the night or random moments in the day, their spirits comfort me.
Kadon Douglas, born and (thankfully) raised in Grenada, is a producer and digital media manager now residing in Toronto, Canada. She spends a disproportionate amount of time reading, plotting her takeover of the film/TV industry, idling on social media, dreaming and hanging out with her main homie, a 5 year old named Kairo. Follow her on Twitter @kadietweets and Tumblr: kadonkadiekay.tumblr.com.