The death of a loved one. When's the first time you had to deal with that? Someone really close. It's a big question. It's one we don't ask. And often we don't talk about the process of mourning and grieving. We suffer in silence. We think we're going crazy. We are sure no one understands; no one hurts as much as we hurt.
We see them everywhere. We hear them; smell them. We speak to them. Sometimes.
I dealt with 2 deaths at really hard times growing up. My Dad and my 'Cousin', Michael.
They were equally hard in different ways. And I couldn't talk about them. At all. Nobody was on the same page. Everyone wanted to help. To be there. So they said the only things they could, which all came from tv and films. It'll be okay. I understand. You can talk to me .
Nope. None of those things were true.
When my dad died, my world stopped. All of it. I was lost. I had this full life remaining, a loving mother, two sisters, but it didn't matter. In that moment everything changed. I knew exactly what the rest of my life would look like without him. The things I'd never know. The secrets, the stories, the reasons, the advice....he took them all with him. And I was angry, and hurt, and sad. And I really just wanted my dad back. And I saw him everywhere. And I heard his voice. And I could smell him on things. Phantom smells. And I probably needed to talk about it. But we don't talk about these things. Not really. So I coped. And I created these amazing coping mechanisms. I dealt with it my way. Which I'm sure wasn't the healthiest all the time.
I still cry. I cried writing that last paragraph. I still miss him. These things never change.
And I had no one, until my friend's dad died unexpectedly. And I remember him looking at me, through the pain, through the grief and the shock, and getting it. Getting that when he had 'been there' for me before, it was empty. And I was there for him. I didn't say a word to him. We sat in the same room. Lost. But content to be in the company of someone else who knew what lost looked like. Who knew that it was no longer about a way back. You don't come back from this.
When Michael died, it was different. He was murdered. This one still fucks me up. He wasn't my cousin in the bloodline sense, but he was my family. He was the only person growing up who looked like me. That was a big deal. We weren't similar, but somehow we were connected through the fact that we were perceived in the same way. He played video games. I played sports. He was an introvert. I was an extrovert. He was a spoiled only child. I was the youngest of three, and only boy. He was mixed. I was mixed. Somehow, we were the same.
I was in the car, driving when I got the call. I was with Shane. I'll never be able to explain what happened to my body that night. If you could vomit your soul out of your body, that may come close. Cells died all at once, like a star imploding, and scattered themselves throughout my life, never to be reassembled. I didn't like it. And I never recovered. The injustice of it, the confusion, the mystery behind how and why...those plague me. I don't even know if I know how to say that I miss Michael. We grew apart by the time this happened. We had divergent paths. I remember seeing him shy of a year before his death, and thinking that he was on a bad path, and wanting to ask him to come live with me. I had no means to sustain this. I was in university, poor, and not getting any richer. But somehow, I knew that I wanted to get him away from something. We were the same, and I wanted to protect my cousin. From things I didn't even understand. But I wasn't bold enough. I wasn't brave. And maybe I was selfish? I didn't say anything. And when it happened, though it had nothing to do with me, I felt like it was my fault. And I cried harder than perhaps anyone expected, because no one actually knew that I felt like I saw it coming; that I could have helped. I should have said something. And I've carried that every day since. Not getting heavier, not getting lighter. Just being what it is. An impacted moment. A beautiful scar.
My close friend just made a film. It's called Come Back. Last year she lost one of her best friends. I was working with her at the time. We talked a lot about this process. She's been dealing with the passing of her friend, an artist, in the best way she knows how: artistically.
She's worked to put her experience into a film that reaches out to him, to me, to anyone who's dealt with grief and death, and it's a beautiful, brave piece of art. The film is in the last phase of production, which is post. And she's raising money to get it finished. I'm leaving the Indiegogo Campaign here. I don't care what you give, but I will say that maybe giving something, and seeing this film will help you, or me, or her, or someone. And that's what art is about for me. Sharing a transformative experience. I don't know what she went through when Kent died. I don't know what you went through. I know what I went through. What I go through. And what I need.
I'd rather live in the open, and share (even silently) my grief, than have it eat at me. I look forward to sitting in a dark theater, being moved by this film, crying, and getting lost in thought. There's a seat next to me if you want to join me. We don't even have to speak.