I will never get used to death.
Even my faith does not really help in that regard. Sure I might believe in a hereafter which brings some measure of comfort that the person we love is ok somehow and somewhere, and even that we might be reunited one day, but what we go through in our here and now after loved ones die is just downright disturbing to me. I might even believe they are still around in another form, but to my limited senses that person is gone from my life in any real and perceptible way. The fact is, they cannot participate in my daily life ever again and that gaping hole they leave is startling.
What have I been doing these past 33 months since Mike died? Trying to find a way to live around the empty space he left behind. It can't be filled; only worked around.
When we got married someone gave us that book by Shel Silverstein, The Missing Piece Meets the Big O. I think of that book a lot because the missing piece is missing again.
Every time I hear of someone I know dying - or even someone close to someone I know - I feel; well, I feel what Mike would have called a "disturbance in the Force", him being the Star Wars geek that he was. Like a swirling, flashing, mirage-y area just beyond my peripheral vision, twisting and swirling, creating yet another void. A vortex where the animated person who used to be gets sucked into and disappears.
And such heartache for those left behind. Empathy is a powerful thing. I mean - death was hard enough before Mike died. I lost two very dear friends a couple of years before he went, and it was very difficult to accept. But after losing my husband it's just so much more personal and poignant. I really get how terrible it is to live through loss like that.
A couple of weeks ago a friend was killed on his motorcycle here on the island. It happened at night on a long and dangerous stretch of road, and he wasn't found until the next morning. I hadn't known Dave for long personally; he was part of a group of friends I'd met through the musician which includes quite a few widows (and widowers). But I remember him vividly. He was one of those guys who was always smiling and chatty, always seemed happy to just be here and loved to reminisce about the great bands and music he had seen and heard during his life. In his 60s, he had a long way to go, and a lot of people are shocked and deeply saddened at his loss.
The morning of the small memorial we held for him here in Kona, I woke up thinking of him and lay there for a few moments trying to absorb the reality that this guy was now dead. My eyes caught the movement of a colorful fabric lei I have hanging in my room swaying in the breeze of my fan, and I suddenly remembered it was Dave who had given it to me, on my birthday this past March. He laughed when he put it over my head because we all knew he'd gotten it at another event earlier in the day but passed it on to me anyway.
Since then I’ve heard of two other deaths of people close to friends of mine. Not to mention all the atrocities on the news. The moment I hear about them I always seem to freeze, my brain flipping wildly at the knowledge of the reverberation their deaths will make in the world to the people who loved them. I react differently to it all now that Mike is dead. Maybe the "death" wound I suffered after losing Mike is just raw and sensitive and always will be now.
I am deeply affected by it. Life is so, so delicately fragile. And I know I need to somehow be prepared for more and more death to come around. Death is a part of life we hear people say all the time. And the older we get the more there will be. As if I am supposed to sigh and just say oh, well. Or be enlightened enough spiritually to understand what it all means and be ok with it. I sometimes wonder if that’s the point of it all. To see my experience as somehow leading to a greater acceptance of our mortality - and to learn to appreciate the moments I have here too.
But the fact it, I just hate death. It sucks and it’s not ok and I will never get used to it.