I’ve turned off all the lights and I feel affinity with the darkness. The blackness that covers the walls is much like the darkness that shrouds my heart right now. I’ve cried until I’ve wretched and until air wouldn’t pass into my lungs. But these tears aren’t enough to wash away the blackness just like they will never be enough to bring him back. The thing about grief is that it becomes an albatross around your neck dragging you down to depths of despair and anchoring you there… so that you drown.
It has been thirteen days since my mother awoke me with one of those early morning calls which never bestow good news
“I have bad news,” she said. “It’s about your Uncle.”
And I was silent because she didn’t have to say it. It was the news I’d feared for so long. After three years of battling lung cancer – he was gone. Just like that. No coming back. A piece of my heart was shattered, irrevocably broken.
It still amazes me that the days drag on lazily… the sun rises and sets, people continue along their daily lives – in fact, in some ways so do I. Except I want to scream at the world, scream at anyone who will listen… “Don’t you know that the world has just lost the most beautiful soul” … things aren’t the same, things aren’t normal… things will never be the same again.
I’m numb as I write this. Sometimes for hours at a time I think about him and I ‘forget’ that he’s gone. Apparently I’m good at denial. But I’m not good enough… never good enough. Eventually something hits me like the fact I will never hear his deep, throaty laugh again. I’ll never receive those phone calls the day after Christmas saying ‘Happy Kwanzaa’. I’ll never hear him say ‘I love you niecey’. And I’ll never be able to say ‘I love you’. He will never see me become a lawyer or publish my first book.
My mind is a muddled slideshow of choppy childhood memories of him teaching me to snorkel and surprising me with a snorkeling kit because the one time I did it I thought it was fun. Memories of running barefoot along beaches with him and him trying (and failing) to teach me to swim. My mind is a muddled slideshow of memories of him helping me pick out a bedspread for my college dorm. Memories of him telling me how proud he was of me when I finished my degree. My mind is a muddled slideshow of memories of him promising me that he would fight the cancer, and that he’d win. Memories of me believing because in my mind it was Uncle Joe and he was invincible.
My heart clutches to the last conversation we had. His voice was still filled with the same cheer that was synonymous with the man who bought me chicken nuggets in bulk just to see me smile – with the man who endured my incessant chatter and was never too busy to just sit and listen.
The last words he said to me was “I love you to niecey”in response to my “I love you.” It was the way we ended each conversation, not out of habit but because it truly only took one laugh, one joke for me to remember just how much I did love him. I’m happy that those were the last words I heard him say … and those words still echo in my mind.
I sit here in the darkness wishing that I could bring him back… wishing that I go back and make it so that this never happened. These are tall wishes. I know if he were near right now he’d encourage me to turn on the lights and turn off the sad music. He’d dry these tears that blur my vision so that it is hard to type. He’d tell me that everything happens for a reason… he’d tell me that everything would be okay.
His last words to my mother were that he loved her and he made her promise to take care of me. I guess, by extension, I should honour his wishes by taking care of myself. But that is for some other night… tonight I shall surround myself with the darkness and cry into my pillow for losing him. I’ll cry into my pillow for this world for it has lost its most beautiful soul.