My fingers tensed, letting the uncontrollable vibration set it. The quake began to erupt deep within. Tears would not flow, for my eyes stared wide in shock. My heart thump echoed loud in my eardrums as it began to punch my throat with each pulse. An intangible grip was now being placed around my neck by the weight of tragic news.
Sadly, this feeling will be experienced by many people throughout their lifetime.
Recently, someone very close to me, my best friend, experienced an immense loss. This was a loss that ricocheted throughout the community. The initial shock and heart wrenching feeling of having a piece of yourself torn out is physically painful. The discomfort of your throat closing around your windpipe, unintentionally making you feel like you have no choice but to get the life sucked out of you as well, drapes over your body like a heavy storm cloud. The aftermath plagues people daily when they think tomorrow might be different, but instead the days are endless and the light at the end of the tunnel gets farther and farther away. It's a dream, it can't be real, you think. But it is. This is life. We are social creatures, born to attach to humans around us but no one can fully grasp the emotion that comes with losing a loved one. They are a part of you just as much as you were a part of them. This, coupled by the fact that the deceased will never touch you or will never grace you with the sound of their voice again, is nauseating and empties you of all your strength.
Yet, with all the chaos happening within your own head, this is when your strength truly becomes substantial. Your inner power will become your backbone and your support system will become your push.
And sometimes support is shown in different ways. For me, it was also shown through music.
The quote from Macklemore's song "Hold Your Head Up" has stuck with me for many years. It says, "Just know that it passes, but you'll collect scars/They never go away, but they will make you who you are."
The wisdom in his lyrics provided me with a different perspective on life when tragedies struck. This song has been a remedy for me since sophomore year of high school, a year where I confronted the death of two very close family members. Before learning the impact a sudden death would have on my family and I firsthand, before learning the outcome of a loved one being defeated by cancer, I understood living things were temporary. My great grandmother who lived a wonderful life died at a very old age, my animals had passed away and I had known people that experienced death way too early. But there's no way any of that can prepare you for future losses because each death will effect you differently. It will also effect your mom differently and your friend differently and your distant relative differently. There is no way of predicting your emotions and actions after your world has been shaken, turned upside down and shattered.
But soon those shattered pieces are glued back together. Will it be glued and placed back differently? Yes, and that is OK. Soon the tears will become laughter and the frowns will become smiles as the memories will light up a new walkway.
The path at the end of the tunnel is now becoming brighter. And the only way light is allowed to shine is because of the darkness. In order to appreciate the light in everything, darkness must be seen.
Just remember, life is precious. It is a gift given to each and everyone of us. Sometimes these gifts unwrap and can be taken away just as quickly as they appeared, but most of the time, this choice is not ours to make. There is one choice we do have though, and that choice lies in our own ability to keep on living. So grab that gift and treasure it because each breath of air you take is someone else's last.
*Keep on keepin' on Ruth Strauss and may you be surrounded by the butterflies that carry the weight of your family's sorrows atop their wings as they provide a delicate reminder of how beautiful life is.