5.5
May 20, 2021

Riding the Wave of Grief after the Death of a Loved One.

It’s been over a month that I haven’t felt it.

The sea was calm all this time. I should’ve known it would happen soon.

I never fully remember that when the wave rolls in, it’s devastating.

Last night, seemingly out of nowhere, it returned.

It was the song that played over that sent the wave crashing into me.

I felt a rush of emotion I couldn’t control, and my heart started aching.

The lump in my throat returned and my eyes filled up with tears.

My breathing became shallow and quick as I tried to stay calm.

I attempted to think of anything else that might stop this from happening—but the only thing I could think of was you.

 

Where are you? Can you see me? Do you hear my prayers for you?

There are so many things I want to share!

There’s so much I want to tell you. I need your advice.

 

The crippling reality that you are no longer here paralyzes me with fear.

The reality that I will never hear your voice or laughter again makes me lose my breath.

I get angry and nauseated at the same time when I realize you’re not alive right now.

My body feels heavy with regret over the many things I wish I could’ve done or said differently.

I feel lightheaded—and weak—I sit on the ground.

Anxiety kicks into overdrive when I remember that death is a part of life and one by one, just like dominos, we all go down.

My head is busy with images and sounds of memories we made; they come flooding in as I sit here crying.

My eyes can’t see through the tears. I cradle my head in my hands and give in to the pain.

I let the sadness out one teardrop at a time.

 

I take small, deep breaths and slowly exhale.

And then, just like that, the sea slowly starts calming down.

The wave is receding back into the endless ocean of emotion; once again, it has come and gone, leaving a heaviness of despair in its path.

It selfishly attacks me when I least expected it, but I guess that’s how it goes.

Attempting to pull myself together and off of the floor, I remember something funny you once did.

A weak smile paints itself across my face as I dry my cheeks.

I miss you so much, my friend, and I love you even more.

——

Losing a loved one is one of the worst pains anyone can go through. It’s confusing, heartbreaking, and brings out all types of emotions one didn’t know they had.

For me, losing my best friend of almost a decade, before turning 27, to cancer shook me to my core. Her name was Ashleigh. We bonded over our mutual dislike over the same coworkers, how we both suffered from anxiety, and our love for dancing. We were 18 years old and had no cares in the world. That was until her cancer came back. She had been on remission for the last couple of years, and once it came back, it never left.

Before she died, we took a girl’s trip like the movie “Beaches,” except there was no beach. Instead, there was church, a lot of praying, and it was Missouri. Her dying request was to go to IHOP—the International House of Prayer—and I obliged because I loved her and wanted to see her happy. Whenever we weren’t attending a session, we were all over town eating the best food, shopping, laughing uncontrollably in the hotel room, crying tears of joy in the church because we love God.

On the last night of our trip, we finally had a raw and honest conversation about her illness, the afterlife, and how she wanted to be remembered. She confessed that she was terrified to die and be forgotten. I promised her I would never forget her. We argued over ideologies about what happens beyond this life while we sat on the hotel bed eating room service burgers and fries with a side of coke. As we laid down to sleep next to each other, she whispered to me in the dark her final request—that I wear purple to her funeral, a wish I absolutely fulfilled.

She went home on December 13, 2015, and I haven’t worn that purple sweater since.

Some days she is the first thing I think about, and I feel as if I am standing at the shore looking out into the enormous sea of emotion, just waiting for the wave to return to me. It doesn’t. It’s simply tiny waves crashing at my feet. But on days like these, she was not on my mind and I wasn’t standing at the shore. I feel miles away from it, in fact. I am constantly unaware of how close I actually am. On days like today, the wave is rushing in like a tsunami, destructive in its path. It’s overwhelming and alarming.

When it passes and I regain normalcy, I feel like that’s Ashleigh paying me a visit and screaming at me for having forgotten her momentarily. She did have a bit of a dramatic side to her—which I miss.

Through meditation, I am reminded to stay grounded and grateful that I am still alive, that I am able to do the things she enjoyed—dancing, reading, laughing, and above all, eating delicious food.

~

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