Down to Earth

The 20s is all about recognizing your own mortality. Every single time I write one of these posts, I start it out the same way. It's just a short fragment sentence. Death. I'm going to write it again and I want you to say it out loud when you read it this time. Death. Now one more time and breath it out as you say it. Death. Before writing this post I went back and read a couple of my previous posts tackling this topic and I have to say they instantly make me cry every single time. The emotion behind them, the raw unfiltered words and I can vividly remember writing each one. Take a look back before looking ahead at a rough one(We All Fall Down - Center of the Universe). No matter how far we go, we always get pulled back down to Earth.

I'm going to write this post in a stream of consciousness just typing with my eyes closed, my fingers crawling all over my keyboard making light tapping noises, and my headphones in. This post is going to be one of those that make be a little too real to actually read all the way through. This post, like all of mine, is a physical manifestation of me, my thoughts, feelings, emotions, opinions, and memories. This post is me putting myself out there in some of my most honestly vulnerable moments. What comes to mind for me is this one day in fifth grade when some of my classmates were crying in the middle of class. I remember coming back from recess kind of sweaty, and smelling a little funky without a care in the world. I'd played freeze tag on the playground and was covered in mulch but beaming nonetheless. I remember not understanding what was going on and why people were so distraught. I could see not everyone was upset and there were people who were like me who had no idea what had occurred. Our teacher told us that their friend or at least someone they knew, who had cancer had passed away. I still didn't get it. I didn't know the person so why was I supposed to care. I didn't feel anything. Truthfully, I didn't know why I had to stop smiling because other people weren't. I will never forget one of the girls who was impacted just looking at me, like really looking at me. It gave me chills. It shook me to my core. It has stayed with me all these years. I hadn't learned what empathy was yet. I didn't comprehend what gravity of what it meant to say that someone had died. There was something that just knocked me back down to Earth.

Since then I have come a long way in my emotional maturity but one thing that still escapes me is how I process death. What am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to react? What is my proper response, and why am I giving it? I go into shock immediately. Nothing makes sense, everything else seems so insignificant. I pretend as if the person's passing has been a lie, some kind of cruel joke where I'm waiting for Ashton Kutcher's punk ass to jump out and yell "you've been Punk'd." And then the answer, the truth, the reality that I have been avoiding keeps coming up. Someone has died. Someone is no longer with us. Someone has transcended this life into the next. Then I fear tears welling up behind my eyes. The pressure builds, and an unswallowable lump develops in my throat. I start to shake and all of a sudden I'm crying. I'm crumbling into myself. I'm distraught. I sob in anguish, in pain, and in sorrow. For a time I am nothing more than a tearful implosion of emptiness. I am uncontrollable. I am overcome with heartache. I sit in silence. I want nothing to hear or no one to see - utter pure unadulterated silence. My jagged breaths shutter in my chest as I struggle to put myself back together. Salty tears line my cheeks and a flaky crust of snot mars the perimeter of my nostrils. I am distraught. I am a mess. I am okay. I rationalize that there is a purpose for all that occurs and find some peace in that. I am drawn back to down to Earth in the humbling experience of it all.

What still escapes me is why I cry, and why I am so deeply impacted. I think on some level I take not only what that person has meant to me, even if it is hasn't been too significant, and amplify it with how I would feel to lose any of the people I loved most. The dynamic between parents and their children or siblings is too much for me bear. I take my feelings of how I would be devastated, destroyed, demolished, and wholeheartedly be obliterated from this Earth without my immediate family members. It's a thought that disturbs me to the very bottom of my soul like none other. And to know that someone I know has lost their parent or sibling emphasizes my greatest fear that inevitably has to come to pass. What do you do? I don't think there's a right answer on how you deal with death, but I do think everyone does it differently, and that includes not at all. Some people move through it quickly, others make jokes, while others cry or prefer to sit in silence. Whatever way you choose is perfect. You take however time you need, to heal or at least start that process, and take it as you can. It's absolutely the most difficult thing that comes with humanity - mortality.

This post has been sitting in my drafts for months because I never had the courage to finish it. It's too hard. It hurts to much. It makes me sad, but I need closure. I need some kind of definitive end to harboring this pain, this terror, this this this - this helplessness. Maybe it never goes away but I have to try. My Uncle Joe was called home (as we Ghanaians say as a euphemism for passing on) and as soon as my mother told me I remember sitting down in a puddle in the middle of the sidewalk. I was on my way to the post office and couldn't go on any longer. I felt as if someone had sucker punched me in the stomach. All the air inside of me, the joviality, and even my understanding of higher powers/religion/beliefs were stripped. I couldn't believe he was gone. Not even for my own sake but his daughters, I just cannot take them no longer having their father with them in the flesh. And the finality of it. The irreversible definitive nature of death is beyond understanding. It's so melancholy, and mysterious. My mom lost her brother as well and in thinking about it's impact on her. If I didn't have any of my siblings I would have to go with them, even in death. Life is not worth living without them. That's how you bring me back down to Earth.
Death doesn't make sense. My limited human understanding does not have the capacity to fathom it. It supersedes all rational thought. It does not fit into how I know the world to be. I know people say that death is supposed to have a reason, a purpose, and some meaning but to me all I know is that a person I knew I can never know again, I will see them again, hear their voice, feel their embrace. Someone I knew has been taken away. I have been robbed. Someone who fit into my life puzzle is missing. They have disappeared. Someone who filled me with warmth has departed. I am left cold. My dad told me today that my uncle Kwame passed away yesterday. He said that soul would rest in peace. It made me think of the sentiment that our bodies remain but our souls leave, and that is both comforting and mortifying at the same time. I don't know what to say, for once in my life. I am speechless. I am without words. There's nothing to say, I've just been sent down to Earth.

My blog post question for the day is ... what's your initial reaction to hear bad news? Me, I'm always just shocked. It takes me more than a few minutes to process and accept that something is actually true. Then after that, it all hits me.

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