Note: This will be a long post nor will it be an easy one. I take the time now to gently remind you that reading this is entirely optional, but the issues that it will address is grief, death, and mourning. Every one is entitled to share their opinions though I advise that you remain as civil, polite, and respectful as possible.
Be warned: This may be a heavy read for some.
I do not speak of death very often.
It is a heavy subject. It is, however, an inevitable one. A person cannot anticipate nor stall its course. It is as evident as the changing of seasons, the passing of time itself.
In life, we are destined to encounter individuals each in the course of their own journeys. Some of those encounters will be temporary and brief. Others will have a longer lasting impact and continue to do so long after it is over.
During those moments we find connectivity. Sometimes they develop and we discover mutual interests and ambitions together. By nurturing, fostering, and protecting one another we forge friendships and camaraderie that is rarely understood by an outsider.
This community itself was built upon the basis of connectivity. It is a platform for personal growth and for us to interweave our lives to those we deem fit. We explore, guide, and comfort one another; limited only by our sense of individual compassion.
At times it is described as primal and empowering energy. Nothing is more gratifying than the feeling of warm company, among our friends and companions. To be accepted unconditionally is an emotion that countless of others have spent their entire lives searching for.
The world can often be a very large and unforgiving place. It often appears to be quite false and full of hypocrisies, ugly and intimidating. I imagine that to be real in such a place can be a very painful and lonely existence.
For those of us who have felt the feeling of abandonment, isolation, or even betrayal; the feelings of acceptance are worth their weight in gold, irreplaceable, and tends to be damn near sacred.
Time, however, has never been quite as accepting.
Time itself is the course between the destination from life to death.
When time runs out, death follows. Like the falling of autumn leaves and the coming of winter and spring, there is change. One can neither stall the course of time nor can we predict the course. It cannot be changed and it cannot be controlled by anyone. It is as intangible as the duality of a beginning and an end to all things.
We can neither stop death from taking away the people we love nor can we stop time from delaying its course.
In the wake of loss, there is pain and each person handles that pain differently. At times such pain is distant, buried away within, replaced by the constant process of our living; other times it is frequent, unavoidable, like an injury that may never heal.
I have often asked myself from time to time the cause behind such pain. An individual who has shared their mutual friendship and affection does not seek actively to harm those that they truly love. I do not believe in such cruelty.
In the scene, I relish the product of such relationships from a person I trust and respect. That they permit an instance of vulnerability is the greatest honor imaginable; in the same manner of an intimate conversation or a moment of shared wisdom.
I asked myself questions from time to time such as why is there such pain from their absence? Why would there be an immediate feeling of regret? Why would that linger? Did we not spend our time together, laughing, crying, and living in those past moments?
Was the time I spent worth it?
When I had first stepped away from the city, I felt an immediate pang of regret. I wondered about my loved ones, my friends and inspirations. I wondered if the feeling was mutual and if in time our paths would cross again.
At certain times, after my return and in the numerous places I’d visited, I thought of those that I had encountered and wondered what had become of them. In my heart, I know that quite a few exist only in my memories.
There are some roads in this life which are meant to be traveled alone. Other roads are meant to be shared, side by side, bound together for reasons that nobody can actually understand.
Likewise there are some moments that are irreplaceable, temporary, and gone. I have watched the sunsets spread across the desert and seen the silhouettes dance around bonfire flames. I remember the long conversations between kind strangers, the wisdom in the voices of people who are long past their prime.
Likewise I have felt raw passion, intimacy, and unconditional love from the people I have met. I have felt the pain, the agony, from the moment of losing them.
There are men and women that I have met whose invisible scars are buried deep from the memory of such loss. Their tears are empty and cold, like the gaze of a person who has experienced far much worse.
Once, I watched from a distance, the mourning of a loved one. The primal nature inherent in those closest to him, unrestrained, terrified me. The cries they made were incoherent, savage, like that of an injured animal. Such was their grief, that it seemed as if though their hearts were literally breaking.
Wherever such roads may lead, one cannot blame the result. Grief is the cost of love itself and it is a deeply masochistic feeling. We must not fear our grief. We must understand, embrace, and accept it.
I have always been prone to being distant and detached from the people I know. Sometimes I am act possessive, controlling, and unwilling to let go of them. The reasons for this are often selfish, I fear the pain of loss as much as anyone. I am reluctant to be burdened by the ache of absence and the course of time itself.
I will never see again the pride in my father’s eyes nor will I hear the laughter of absent friends.
I will never walk the roads with better individuals who have already come and gone in this one lifetime.
I will not see again the faces of those from before, listen to their stories, and grow from their wisdom.
But I gladly accept the price of such pain.
Nobody should forget or attempt to replace them with the people they meet. We honor the dead by the simple act of living.
For now I add the weight of their memory to the flag I bear, another patch on my sleeve; in time, I will take their place, passing on their stories, and with it my wisdom to those that I have yet to meet.
Love and grief, like life and death, are one and the same.
One day if I fall I hope to have enough strength to turn where the sky should be and with my last breath, I would whisper only the names of my loved ones, calling them over and over even as I plunge for the other shore.
For even in the darkest place, comforted by their love, my spirit will never be a lonely one. In death, my love would last forever. I face that with a kind of dignity that shall always be without fear or regret.
I would leave behind the knowledge that this life, this journey, is worthwhile. I would want them not to grieve for long and always to show others the same kindness and affection that they have shown me.
If not, I will kick your asses when I see you next.
Until that day comes, don’t ever hesitate or be afraid to live and to love, forever.
“The Flag Still Stands”