Bree (2 Years Later)
I have cried a lot these past two months. Every day, every time, no matter where I have been, I have battled bitter tears. I have been in and out of sleep, almost every night, staying awake in the wee hours of the morning, asking myself, “What is the point?”
What is the point of this living, when everything is threatening to kill me? What is the point of this life I am building, when my own edges are crumbling into me? What is the point of this happiness I seek, this happiness my heart yearns for, when I am too afraid that, soon, something, or someone shall take it away?
I have spent hours curled on my bathroom floor, crying, because I have been unable to be myself these past two months. I have been breathing, but wondering when, or how this heart will stop beating. I have been running around my existence, skipping my emotions, hiding my face, and hoping this gush of sadness, anger, despair, hopelessness, goes away soon.
But I have been failing at each attempt, because these things that are burning me from the insides cannot be hidden by fake smiles. They cannot be buried even by tongue-gripping anxiety. Why? Because each day when I wake up, these things that are burning within me have always doubled, threatening to break me out of my own skin.
I have been failing at each attempt, because emotions come so easily to me, but take their sweet time to leave. So that I have been sitting with myself in silence, trying to find reason behind all these things that are burning within me. I have been trying to bury my head in books, hoping to come across a line that transforms into a rhythm of my heart and soul.
I have been failing at each attempt to break free from these things burning inside me, because I am too tired, too afraid to sit with them, and find the faults in their existence. I am too scared that doing this will scar me even further, driving me closer to the edges of insanity.
So, instead, I have been writing about these things, and hoping the burden becomes lesser with each stroke of the pen. I have been speaking about these things, albeit in hushed tones, to only a few people who are friends of my heart. I have been dwelling within my head for so long, hoping that when the day breaks, these ghosts keeping me awake will have disappeared.
But they have stayed with me, these things burning within me, so that as days went by, I began accepting that there is no getting out of this without, first, accepting that these things will always be part of me. That sometimes, they will always keep me awake at night. That they will make me constantly look over my shoulder when in public. That they will, sometimes, make me question everything and everyone around me.
That these things burning within me will always take the centre stage in the writing of my story; only that I should not let them take the happiness away from my eyes. I should not let them make me stutter when I speak. I should not let them bring shame to my art, and heart. I should not let them limit my interactions with everything and everyone around me. I should not let them bring me to tears every time I talk, or write about them.
So when my calendar sent a reminder of your birthday, I promised myself that I would not cry. That I would not go through our photos and wail, uncontrollably. I promised myself that this time round, almost two years since you breathed your last, I would not let grief overwhelm me afresh, like on the day I got the news of your demise.
But it took only one look at your photo for my heart to shatter afresh. For my soul to recoil into itself. For the knots in my stomach to start tightening. For the sadness in my chest to turn into fresh grief, manifesting itself in a fresh set of heart palpitations.
So that I was dragging myself on the floor of my living room, biting into my lower lip to conceal my pain, and wishing, one more time, that you were still here to hold my hand. To speak softly to me, and about me. To cover me in warmth and love. To affirm your commitment to me, even during those times when I felt I was a complete failure.
A few months ago, one of my colleagues mentioned that I write about the deaths of my friends in a way that is not ‘spiritually correct’. That I am writing about death as if I am calling it upon myself. That I should stop dwelling on these losses, and find something else to write about. That this dwelling on grief will do nothing but lead me to the same place; death.
I cried afresh, for you, on that day.
It is the thing with grief. No one on the outside will ever understand, wholly, how much damage the death of a loved one does to you. They will never understand how much it takes for you to continue living, when you lost vital parts of you to death. They will never understand that the burden of grief never lessens, no matter how long it takes, so that they think it easy to wake up one day and let go of the grief.
So that when I looked at pictures of us on your birthday, with the grief keeping me pinned on my living room floor, I found the heart to forgive this colleague for downplaying my grief. For belittling my emotions. For thinking you were just any other person who died. For thinking I should just forget you. For implying that I was carrying this burden of grief in the most embarrassing way.
Today, I still write about you with tears in my eyes. With pain in my voice. With sadness in my heart and soul. With heaviness in my limbs, because even my way of life has never been the same.
Happy birthday, my life.