The Darkness

Darkness.
Seeing no way out from a life heavy with a lack of light.
Sigh.
Begrudgingly starting every day.
Silent.
Every single day I regret being silent to those who have come to this blog to read my words and have found help or comfort through them.
Worse.
Wish I could laugh in the face of every person who has said it will get better one day because all I feel is the overwhelming sense of sinking deeper.
Lost.
Unsure of where I fit or belong.
Disconnected.
Not part of anything yet surrounded by all the things I should be.
Wordless.
No longer able to put into words how I feel.
Pathetic.
Hate myself for the inability to function.
Downhill.
Living proof that it is a myth to take it one day at a time and things will get better.
Drowning.
The thought of breathing it all in makes me choke on the misery.
Disappointed.
Not at all doing what I am supposed to be doing or living the life I should be living.
Letdown.
Unable to be there for the people who love me or be part of their lives like I once was.
Unfocused.
Getting what needs to be done every day is a daily battle barely won.
Failure.
My original goal of helping others through my words and experience with grief has failed since losing my ability to write.
Lonely.
My heart beats for you with miserably unattainable desire.
Guilty.
Constantly questioning why it was you, not me.
Jealous.
Everyone’s lives seem to be coming together in such a perfect loving way while I am trapped in this dismal cage.
Angry.
This is the life I have been given and I wish I could return to sender.
Frustrated.
The daily motions that must be gone through quickly grow tedious.
Mundane.
Nothing seems to bring joy or relief or brief moments of clarity.
Master of the mask.
Faking it has no longer become an option, just reality.
Unhappy.
Struggling to remember the last time I was happy and woke up excited for something to happen.
Incapable.
I am totally unable to forget and move on even though people tell me I should.
Lonely.
Life without you just does not make sense and all attempts to fill the void are inadequate.
Weak.
So tired of the fight and effort it requires to get through each day.
Defeated.
I feel like I need to acknowledge that my entire life of bad luck has won.
Bandaid solution.
Trying anything to cover the pain and make it go away.
Acceptance.
Realizing and accepting that regardless of trying to be a good person and giving so much to others isn’t enough to avoid fate when she comes knocking to take away everything you love.
Caught.
See absolutely no way out of all of this.

Grief.
The only existence I know.
Surrender.
Tired of fighting and ready to give in to the unrelenting darkness.

Darkness.

The Pain A Smile Can Bring

Hiding behind a mask of what they want to see.  The mask portrays a strong smiling girl,the furthest thing from me.  Behind the mask this girl is far from strong, crumbling on the inside and trapped in a world gone wrong.  Her every thought tainted by the memories that remain.  Nothing can save her now or take away the pain.  Looking in the mirror crying because she hates whats’staring back.  All she sees is imperfections and an empty heart of black.  The words echoing in her mind broken beyond repair and wishing to break down, to fall, but to catch her: no ones there.  She feels as though theres no release so the pain, it lingers and understanding lies just beyond the desperation of her reaching fingers.  The mask she wears is slipping until she can hide no more.  This unbearable hell she calls her life dealt with behind closed doors.
~~ Author Unknown

Zach,

I came across this poem a few months ago and I wish I could give credit where credit is due, but unfortunately “author unknown” doesn’t give me much to work off of.  It has stuck with me.  I have read it repetitively since I found it.  I find myself in these words, I see my reality.  I couldn’t even bring myself to fix any grammatical or punctuation errors because I found myself so drawn to the words.  Yes, I know pointing out grammar and punctuation shows the ESL teacher that I am.  But all that aside, I couldn’t have written this any better.  The truth, the pain, the torture, and the reality behind these words rings true to me every second of every day.  I’m sure it does to anyone who finds themselves drowning under imaginable grief.

I never imagined that a smile could be so difficult.  A smile is the most natural thing for anyone to do.  The first smile a new baby gives its loving parents is a natural reaction, but is treated as a momentous occasion.  What we take away from someone’s smile is pure joy, true happiness, and a real expression of emotion.  I have come to realize we take it for granted.  We take someone’s smile at face value, no pun intended, because we are so content to see their smile that we don’t realize what lurks below the surface.  People don’t stop to question if it is real.  People don’t care.  As long as we give them what makes them more comfortable then all can go on.  But what is that smile masking?

Zach, since we lost you I can barely choke out a smile.  I won’t deny that it doesn’t happen.  It does.  I catch myself cracking a smile or laugh once in a while.  But what is so harshly different over the last year is that the very second the smile appears, I instantly feel a brutally harsh stab of pain, of guilt, of sadness wash over me.  The smile only ends up bringing more pain even if for the second it is a natural reaction.  I don’t know what it is.  Guilt?  An undeserving feeling?  An inability to appreciate joy?  I have no idea.  All I know is how I feel and the pain that floods over me any time I catch myself smiling.

It is a mask.  We all wear masks, but I have realized that when grieving masks become a vital necessity.  No one truly wants to see the pain we feel inside.  People want to see me at work functioning, contributing to small talk, laughing at their jokes, sympathetic to their stresses, able to participate in conversation.  My friends want me to be part of their lives, to laugh at our old jokes, to see the humor in life.  My family wants me to function better, enjoy my time with them, appreciate our moments together.  They want to see me smile.  I am sure it is partly because they want to see me doing better, but I also know it has a lot to do with making them feel more comfortable.  I know I’ve talked about this before, but it is something of focus for me lately and I can’t seem to shake it.

Zach, I guess this became more of a pressing issue when I spent over an hour on Skype on a video chat with my niece and nephew the other day.  These are the two people in the entire world that I love more than life itself.  After losing you, they are all I have left.  I always say they gave me my heart back when I needed it most, they taught me how to love again, and they were honestly the only people I truly loved until I met you.  These two beautiful little souls are my whole world and their little lives brought me to a point where I was ready to meet you, fall in love with you, and begin a life with you.  Kiana and Zachary are still my entire world, I am still a devoted aunt, and would gladly lay my life down for them.  But since we lost you, I can’t bring myself to muster the same amount of joy I once did.  The entire conversation was filled with their excited stories about their new teachers, upcoming birthdays, and silly things they’ve done recently.  They would tell me stories and my eyes would well up with tears, I would have to choke back sobs, and force myself to pull it together.  I smiled.  I laughed with them.  I loved their stories.  But every time I smiled, the pain instantly came back.  How am I supposed to go on, supposed to cope in real life, or supposed to crack a “real” smile if I can’t even do it with them?

I fear a true smile is forever lost to me.

This isn’t to say I don’t enjoy moments with my family, friends, co-workers.  I do.  To the best of my ability…. I do.  But it never quite seems real or if it does then the very next second it just hurts.  I wonder if that will ever come back.  Will it ever not hurt to smile?  Will it ever not hurt to experience a moment of joy without you?  Will everything always be dealt with behind closed doors?

Sent to me by my amazing friend Jordana this week who came across it and was thinking of me.  Felt it fitting to include today.

The First Year

Zach,

It is 4 a.m.  It is 4 a.m on October 9th, 2012.  I cannot believe it.  One year.

One year ago right this moment my life changed forever.  One year ago right this minute my phone rang and I got the worst news of my whole damn life.  One year ago exactly now you were taken from us way too soon.  One year ago the world lost one of the best men it would ever know.  We lost a son, a brother, a soul mate, a partner, a best friend, a teacher, a coach; so many people lost something that day and so many of us are hurting.  One year ago you left us and nothing has been the same since.

The concept of time has been utterly lost to me.  I should have a firmer grasp on it considering I have been writing about each passing month and essentially keeping track of the time in some way, but here we are.  A year?  My God.  I don’t know how any of us made it through it.  How did we get here?  It feels like it has been a simple blink of an eye and yet the calendar doesn’t lie.  It’s here. 365 days have somehow flashed by all of us and we are still blindly wandering and attempting to grasp at anything to keep us afloat.  One year later and we still can’t make sense of what life without you means.

They say when grieving to not make any big decisions in the first year.  They say that the “firsts” are always the most difficult.  Honestly?  I think that is a load of BS we all tell each other in an unintentional/subconscious attempt to put a time limit on grieving.  I know it is just one of those things said when no one really knows what to say, but what do people envision?  Crossing the finish line with a black-and-white checkered flag with people yelling “You made it!” and clapping as we cross over into a no grief zone?  Yes, the first year has passed but does that mean I am supposed to wake up tomorrow a lighter person, a less tormented person, a person returned to a happy reality?  It just isn’t possible.  Yesterday, today, tomorrow, and the days after that will still be severely lacking something.  You.  Without you nothing is better and there is still emptiness, sorrow, and pain.

I honestly don’t really know where to begin.  Zach, not a single day has gone by that my every thought isn’t with you.  Not one day has gone by that I have not wanted to pick up the phone and call you, heard a car door thinking it was you, or ached for you with every fiber of my being.  Not one millisecond of one single day has gone by where I haven’t missed you right down into the core of me.  The pain I feel lives with me like an unwelcome companion and it has not lessened in any way.

I still think of it as “us”.  Me and you.  Us.  Our love still feels as strong and ever-present.  My love for you has not diminished to the slightest degree and I still think of myself as yours.  I still say “we” and “our” without noticing that I do it until I see people cringe.  That might be crazy and a ridiculous thing to do, Zach but to me it is still “us”.  I don’t know any other way to be.  From the moment we met we were instantly “us” and I don’t know who I am without you.  I guess I’m just being “us” alone.

Zach, I’m at a loss.  I am lost and I don’t know what to do to make it better.  I don’t know what to say that could possibly honor your memory in any way right now.  I wrote about your headstone back in January when we went to have it designed but I am sharing the picture today for the first time as an attempt to commemorate the amazing life that you lived even if it was tragically short.

So I will close with this poem that I came across and while you were not a father, I don’t want the memories to stop, and I don’t want to say goodbye, I still love the beauty behind these words of wishing a loved one closer and the torture one feels when you can’t bring them back.  The torture I live with everyday.

I love you, Zachri Cecil Jones; yesterday, today, and forever.

I miss you.

“You were once my one companion,
You were all that mattered.
You were once a friend and father,
Then my world was shattered.

Wishing you were somehow here again,
Wishing you were somehow near.
Sometimes it seemed if I just dreamed,
Somehow you would be here.
Wishing I could hear your voice again,
Knowing that I never would
Dreaming of you won’t help me to do
All that you dreamed I could

Passing bells and sculpted angels
Cold and monumental
Seem for you the wrong companions
You were warm and gentle

Too many years fighting back tears
Why cant the past just die
Wishing you were somehow here again
Knowing we must say goodbye
Try to forgive
Teach me to live
Give me the strength to try
No more memories
No more silent tears
No more gazing across the wasted years

Help me say goodbye
Help me say goodbye”
~~ Charles Hart, The Phantom of the Opera