The End

F. Theresa Gillard

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“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

Life sucks . . . but death sucks more.

Life sucks . . . but death sucks more.

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?

Remember this when you’re wasting breath lamenting frivolous B.S.

Remember this when you’re wasting breath lamenting frivolous B.S.

The End

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
and diagnosis.

Last birthday, thirty-two candles
and wishes made.

White flowers, marble plate
and baby’s tears.

F. Theresa Gillard

About F. Theresa Gillard

F. Theresa Gillard characterizes herself as a Black—not an African American; born/raised in South Carolina; currently residing in New England; never married; no children. Her day benefits-gets-her-bills-paid-job: a Director at a university in Boston. She proclaims herself to be a passionate never-gets-around-to-it writer who is a Rap-House Music/Cheeze-It junkie. What she writes is who she is—meaning she is a take-it-or-leave-it, yes-or-no, with-no-maybe-or-possibly person: basically, she feels it all comes down to that initial “F.” Email Theresa:
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20 Responses to The End

  1. Avatar Amit Sachdeo says:

    And that is why it is important for us to be good human beings, spread love and laughter, help those we can and most of all make each moment count. Well written Theresa!!

  2. Avatar Auderia says:

    Wow…very good!

  3. Avatar Melanie says:

    Even through an “MS haze” as you often put it, you still always know just how to say things, and do so beautifully. The world needs a lot more of F. Theresa.

  4. Elizabeth Boleman-Herring Elizabeth Boleman-Herring says:

    F.T., THIS summer, God willing, I’m going to wear some high heels and big hats. I’m NOT going to wait till my own funeral, or anyone else’s. Dear Girl, you were once my student–imagine!–but you very, very quickly morphed into one of my most precious and austere teachers. As we go on, there is more and more “haze,” and yet more and more clarity; more and more light. I’ll never figure it out, but it doesn’t matter. We must mourn, and grieve, and . . . not go quiet into that good night. We must rage, rage, rage against the dark. AND wear big hats…. Love you. e

  5. Avatar Michele says:

    Wonderfully written as always, my friend. Very fitting as a family friend has just passed away, which has us thinking about the things you are writing about. Keep writing!

  6. Avatar David says:

    Very well said, Theresa, very well said. As you know, my 26 year-old son took his life about 18 months ago. Nothing soothes the sorrow over his passing and time hasn’t made it better. Thank you for your thoughts about grief. We should embrace it for what it is. The truth hurts sometimes but it’s better than avoiding it or pretending it didn’t happen. Your final paragraph reminds me of words often said by a longtime friend who recently died, “Life’s a bitch, and then you die.” The truth hurts sometimes. God bless you Theresa.

  7. Avatar Burt Kempner says:

    No cheap Hallmark sentiments or drive-through salvation here. Every word aimed true, hitting its mark. I’m sorry we never got to meet. You’re my kind of people and then some. To paraphrase Elizabeth, do not go gentle or dishonest into that good night.

  8. Avatar Dolores says:

    It takes guts to write these feelings down and share them. The topic of death and the holes in or hearts that never heal can only be raised in intimate and understanding circles and times. We are all so vulnerable to our bodies falling apart, and it seems all to often we hear of someone who is failing. And we know how it will end.
    Thanks Theresa for making us fess up.

  9. Avatar Anita Sullivan says:

    This is so simple, and so true, and so beautifully spoken. I think about death every day, hoping I’ll be alive long enough to figure out a way to accept it gracefully, but so far I remain stymied. Your spirit is beautiful, Theresa, thank you for sharing it!

  10. Avatar Adrian says:

    I’m reminded of a stranger whom I’ve met each Christmas at Sam’s because she greets the customers as they enter. Although I still could not tell you her name, I feel as though she is no longer a stranger. During my wait for Theresa in my borrowed wheelchair (due to my foot surgery), the greeter explained to me that Christmas will never be the same for her because she lost her husband last year. She went on to say that her son doesn’t understand why she still grieves. She puts on her happy face for her children and grandkids, but the season makes her miss him more. I’ve learned that sometimes a genuine smile and a willingness to listen helps.

  11. Avatar Helen Noakes says:

    Beautifully put, Theresa. And the images you’ve included are evocative and stirring.
    Thank you for going to that painful place that we all try so hard to avoid. Writing is a catharsis. Reading about something so deeply felt is a clarification.

  12. Avatar CGR says:

    Well F, that is getting to the fudge of it, I would say! It seems once life allows us to reach 40 years, life speeds up. As a person of color, I know there are only two things in life I have to do. Stay black, which I love being, and die, which I am not too happy about unless I am blessed to die in Christ. Life is a blessing, I pray death will be as well.

  13. Avatar Christine says:

    My dear Theresa, we have laid to rest many family members over the years. My mom always says, “It never gets easy, you just learn to live with the loss, they are still with us every day”. Thus, life does go on for the rest of us and we do try to make the best of what we have each and every day. Life passes in the blink of an eye, keep your eyes open and enjoy every moment, in an MS haze or not you ROCK!

  14. Avatar Stephanie says:

    I just read your article! I am absolutely speechless.. So beautifully written and so very true. I feel like you captured such a raw and deep emotion with your words.. As though you reached into my heart and soul… It is EVERYTHING I feel and sometimes want to shout out to the world!
    You have an amazing and beautiful gift Theresa. Thank you for sharing!

  15. Avatar SRB says:

    Dark, yet, well written with a positive philosophical message on outlook at the conclusion.

  16. Avatar F Theresa Gillard says:

    *Amit – I need you to go out on the streets of Boston and share that sunshine that is so uniquely you :-)
    *Auderia – Thanks for stopping by. When are you coming up for a visit?
    *Melanie – Lots more of me? Um, not sure about popular census on that one.
    *EB-H – Big hats? Well I would join you, but I have a mega head. Hats & my head just don’t get along well. Raging – that I do naturally ;-)
    *Michele – How’s the weather down there in North Carolina? We’re still freezing our butts off & expecting snow tomorrow :-(
    *David – My dearest friend. I have no words. I think of you often and pray for you more often. Keep fighting the good fight. And, if you ever need a warrior to step in, give me a call.
    *Burt Kempner – I can do Hallmark, but no room for that here usually. So, we’re still both kickin’, right? We may yet meet . . .
    *Dolores – You’re welcome. I keep looking over my shoulder for that padded wagon. I got your Blog post. Will check it out tonight.
    *Anita Sullivan – Gracefully, or not – the fact that you actually spend time thinking about death means that you’ve already won most of the battle. Most can’t even fathom it, let alone think about it daily. Just my F. Theresa observance.
    *Adrian – Touching. Thanks for sharing. I wish we could share this with her. (Man! Who else were you chatting with while I was parking the car?)
    *Helen Noakes – True that (BTW – our illustrious editor chose those pics) .
    *CGR – Amen. Every time I turnaround, another year is gone. That’s why we should go to Ruth’s Chris tonight!
    *Christine – Let’s hope that we have many eyes-opened-enjoyment moments before our time is up.
    *Stephanie – I am touched that you are touched. Hang in there – even a thread will do sometimes.
    *SRB – Thanks for the critique – it’s so quintessentially you.

    F. Theresa

  17. Avatar Rich says:

    Your article is a real take on a very morbid subject. I’m picking up what your putting down!

    My Uncle Bob always says “we are here for a good time, not for a long time”.

  18. Avatar F Theresa Gillard says:

    * Rich – Thanks for sharing your Uncle Bob’s words of wisdom. Fitting.

    F. Theresa

  19. Avatar Jackie says:

    Very well written! Sorry I didn’t comment sooner!

  20. Avatar Cortney Ellis says:

    Sorry for the delay! Thank you for touching on a subject that’s often brushed under the rug. “Time heals all wounds” is such a big misconception. Grief gets easier because life goes on, vivid memories often fade with time, and society diagnoses us with a disorder that says it’s not healthy to grieve, so we hide it. Now with that being said, we all should love life, love each other, and most importantly, never take a single breath for granted. Thanks for sharing.

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