Death is inevitable. Loss is experiential. Eternity is forever. But, I will never forget the goodbye of you.
It changes you, even when you see it coming. It’s our most unnatural concept: A Goodbye.
My Papa said: “Emie, you will never let go, but with time it will become easier.” I think he needed to hear those words too. We promised each other that afternoon that we would would get through this together. This being, the loss of my nana, a month ago now. It seems like a lot of time in retrospect, but I feel like I just got the call yesterday. I’m healing, this I can attest to, I’m out of bed now, but the pain of my heart is still just as pressing. Grief is a witness to our innate ability to love with a great depth. To love with the love bestowed to us, by Love Himself.
Loss, no matter with season, relationship, or death, forces a goodbye out of you and me that all too often, we’re not ready to give. Once the words leave us, we say hello to absence, and not just an absence of feeling, but of character, of self. There’s no manuscript to how we are supposed to grieve, so none of us seem to know how to act in its presence. Reacting in ways that don’t make sense. Speaking words we don’t mean. We don’t want to inflict, we just want to help others understand. I lost interest in everything but my creativity. I clung to that. I clung to speaking in the only way that made sense, captured in film, personified in poetic form.
Recently, I found loss is not just our loss. Our pain isn’t misunderstood by Him, even if your reactions aren’t understood by others. In this season, we need community now more than ever. God created us for the purpose of being with one another, for being known. Remember goodbyes were never meant to be understood by us in any depth. Goodbyes introduce distortion in relationship, that’s why the pain is immense. Know that alone is not something that you are. He is broken with you, let your community be too, because this is where healing begins, when we choose to not walk alone.
I desperately wanted to remind you of this today. I wanted to remind myself.
You With Death:
Less words are said, More food is eaten.
Sleep is absent. You think more about your Savior.
You become closer to your family.
You’re angry at God.-You feel an absence of self.
You don’t drink enough water. You drink too much tea.
You bike until you can’t.
You cry behind a closed door.
You only laugh when you think of normalcy.
You wear all black for days, to make a point. (It’s a silent weeping.)
You spend too much time thinking about time and how you could be filling it.
You surround yourself with the presence of community.
You push them away.
You sleep, you begin to heal.
You feel an absence again.
You go to work, you quit a job.
You buy meals for the week.
You plan your trips home months in advance.
You get a tattoo.
You buy books of poetry, you read books about poetry, you write a poetry book.
You hug your friends far too often.
You make room for art, for church, for long phone calls with family.
You see movies alone.
You stop calling Papa every day, just every other.
You pray again.
This is loss. This is what it looks like to heal. Grieving honestly. Seeking Community. Choosing to care for yourself. So to all of this, I truly say It is well,
words and photo by Emily Steffen