“I have no answers. Death is elusive; it remains darkly veiled. Yet, I challenge death. We all do. We challenge death by continuing to live. Some of us fighting as though hell is lapping at our shores. Others vaguely swatting at death as though it’s a drunken gnat.”—F. Theresa Gillard
Status: Quo Minus
By F. Theresa Gillard
Note: Since 2010, F. Theresa Gillard has been living (in her own inimitable style) with Multiple Sclerosis. Without her support, Weekly Hubris would not continue to be; so I, her editor, take this opportunity (again) to thank her, my former student, dear friend, and fellow Up-country South Carolinian, for all that she is and does . . . and for continuing to write, even if it is now through what she herself calls an “MS-induced haze.”
BOSTON Massachusetts—(Weekly Hubris)—3/24/2014—This past weekend, whilst I was dodging Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, I happened upon a PBS documentary, Homegoings, about African-American funerals, focusing on Isaiah Owens’ funeral services business in Harlem.
It really wasn’t that much of jump, going from King’s novel to a funeral services documentary. Watching the documentary and reading the King novel got me to thinking about loved ones lost. It’s beyond overwhelming. And, I’m going to go ahead and say it (although it may get me committed), it does not get better with time. It’s pure and raw pain that lingers forever. Time is not the cure all. It simply is not.
Now, what does change is how you share or show your sorrow because, apparently, it is not accepted or normal to be outwardly grieving for years. So, you hide it. You protect it, burying it deep away from prying questions that are supposedly meant to be empathetic. Knowing that if you truly share it all 20 years later, you hurt the same (or more than ever) and you will be shunned.
It’s the finality of death that makes it a powerful force. Finality in that you can no longer reach out and touch that which has been taken. And, doesn’t it feel like death rips dreams, futures, and moments from us? Leaves us reeling and wondering why. Why?
Life is so fleeting. I’ve always known this. When my little newborn puppies and kittens silently slipped away—I knew. When my grandmother passed, and my grandfather soon after—I knew. When I attended the funeral of my high school classmate, Cheri—I knew. Funny how knowing doesn’t really soothe the sorrow. Nothing does.
I have no answers. Death is elusive; it remains darkly veiled. Yet, I challenge death. We all do. We challenge death by continuing to live. Some of us fighting as though hell is lapping at our shores. Others vaguely swatting at death as though it’s a drunken gnat.
Life sucks. At times, this is very true, but death sucks more: it sucks for those of us left here to mourn. Remember this when you’re wasting breath lamenting frivolous B.S., because we all have many cherished and lost loved ones who would gladly take your, or my, next wasted breath. I have a list of them. Do you?
Cotton balls, pink ribbons
and puppy dogs.
Cute boys, love notes
and jump ropes.
Football games, mini-skirts
and white corsages.
Mid-term blues, final exams
and grad caps.
Gold bands, wedding bells
and tethered dreams.
Baby rattles, toddler babble
and kindergarten chatter.
Random pains, lab results
Last birthday, thirty-two candles
and wishes made.
White flowers, marble plate
and baby’s tears.