What I learned about life when I wanted to die is that I don’t.
I do not want to die in the most unapologetic way. I cannot ring out my sadness like an old mop, but I can be at peace in the foggy water.
In the moments between vibrant life and absolute death, I feel like a ghost. The weight of grief sits on my chest like a rock weighing me underwater. Sometimes grief makes it hard to breathe. The hardest moments are when your grief has no attachment. When there is no sad story to be caught up in, it feels like you have no need to be sad. Even still, it sits on top of your lungs, cutting off your breath.
Sometimes it’s the moments of brief passing from waterlogged lungs to open vocal chords that you realize that clearing your throat is as holy as a ship docked in harbor after a long, long storm. Even with broken boards it still returns home.
A broken person is still a person. My body may be composed of chipped bones and untold stories but it is a body just the same.
I want to live in this body. I want to live.
My grandmother is a lemonade connoisseur. In endless July months she freezes lemonade in ice cube trays and wraps them in paper towels. My sister and I lick them like popsicles.
I think being sad is a lot like being frozen.
I've lived with depression most of my life, but the diagnosis was perhaps the turning point. Putting a name on what haunts me has helped me to face it with less fear.
When I was a child I had hair long enough to touch the crevices of my hips. It was thick and curly, almost impossible to get detangled. My mother would brush it and put it in braids. How beautiful it is to have your mother brush your hair. Healing is a lot of the same feeling. Sometimes you cannot brush out the knots alone.
People don't like to talk about mental health. For some reason, mental illness is an unspoken story sitting on everyone's tongue. Medication bottles in bathroom cabinets often reveal the truth that many are hiding. I do not understand why sickness is a cause for shame. If your brain is ill, you don't live with it like a broken knee. Shattered bones are not as painful as a shattered mind.
I love black coffee. Deluding caffeine with sugar or milk lessens it's affect. When I was first prescribed medication to aid my depression, I felt black coffee was injected in the hollow of my forearm. I felt a marathon in my brain where there had once been a funeral procession. Electric joy pulsing through my nervous system. I'm not sure if this was how I was always supposed to feel.
I am a poet. Poetic release has always been cheaper than therapy. I feel, I write. I ache, I write. I ache, I ache, I ache.
My grandmother was a librarian and my mother is a school teacher. Literature is written into my bones. Several years ago I learned that my father, a business man and musician, was a writer as well. Sometimes he writes poems that are so profound that they echo the sounds of the ocean. He shares them with me, but does not let anyone else read them.
Sometimes the lines in between are prayers, asking me to stop scratching skin with nails and build houses instead. I think it is beautiful to share something with someone.
We humans are never given a survivor's manual on how to get through the dark times. I think we are meant to write it ourselves. I've spent many days chained to twin beds of sadness, I've forgotten to fall asleep. I have not forgotten to write.
I was once in a dysfunctional relationship that I did not realize was dysfunctional until it was long over with. Her body was so hollow that I tried to fill it with mine, but in turn, turned hollow myself.
Princess Aurora pricked her finger on a spindle and fell into a deep sleep. I pricked my finger on my lover and I could not wake up.
My little sister is a dancer. She is liquid poetry. Artists come to paint her but she spins too fast for paper. Paint her with watercolors and stick around to watch her dry. This is not the time to die. I have so many boats to bring home.
When I was five, the doctor told my mother I had leukemia. My grandfather, distraught, prayed to God to heal me. He promised he would go to church every day until he died. The next day, the doctor told my mother there was a mistake. I did not have leukemia. I am nineteen years old. My grandfather still goes to church.
When I was younger, I tried to find a million ways to empty my bones. I learned that sometimes the heavy feeling is better than the lightness. Sometimes the heavy feeling weighs you down and commands you to stay. Stay, stay, stay.
I am sitting in my mother's car. The road ruptures beneath us, breaking stilled silence like cold milk in July. Headlights appear behind us. A motorcycle drives by, the speed of an ambulance in a hurricane.
My mother looks at me and whispers "That's how God makes angels".
I don't think it works that way.
I think the angels are the ones who wanted to die but didn’t. The ones who wanted to live but couldn’t. Who thought of suicide but wouldn’t.
I think living is a bravery that demands the most.
What I learned about life when I wanted to die, was that I don't.