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My first brush with death came when my grandfather passed away. I was 3. The viewing was at the farmhouse and I remember I had to be a “good” girl and play quietly by myself. I remember playing with coloured pieces of paper, cut out by scissors, with puppies and kitties drawn in ink. I wonder who made those drawings? I also remember my Dad picking me up to say “goodbye” to my grandfather. He was so pale in his strange “bed”, and I wondered when Papa was going to wake up.

I’ve been told, however, that my brother, being 4 years my senior, crawled under a table and refused to come out.

My grandmother refused to have music in the house or at the funeral. She thought it would make her cry, and one does not cry in public. Ever. Not even on the day you bury the love of your life.

Not having music baffled me, since it’s such an integral part of my life. That was, until my best friend’s funeral. I could hum before I could speak, but when it came time to sing, I couldn’t make any sounds. I was the last to leave her graveside, even though it was winter and bitterly cold.

This month, I wrote a letter to my unborn baby, simply because I had an overwhelming need for her to know that she was loved.

This week, I sat for awhile with a Mom who lost her son last Fall. He had had a thriving practice, an active lifestyle, a beautiful fiancee. But he died, suddenly, in the night. She hasn’t been able to return to work, and life is anything but “normal”.  She showed me his picture. She showed me the cross she wears that he once wore faithfully. Though in obvious pain, she talked and talked about her beautiful boy. Her grief was palpable and bubbling over in her rush of words.

Grief touches us all, and it’s not always the loss of a person through death. It can be the loss a relationship, a job, a dream. We all cope with loss in different ways, because we are all different. I have seen people drop to their knees and howl at the heavens, and sit painfully still, whimpering like a wounded animal. I have seen people physically collapse; marriages too. I have seen eyes welling up unexpectedly in grocery stores, and others fighting to “carry on” because “that’s what you do”.

But in the end, we all fall apart.

And I think there’s beauty in that wilderness, in the intensity of our raw emotions. Perhaps not in the ways we fall apart, in how we express our grief, but in the simple fact that we do. Princes and paupers. Sinners or saints. Slave or free. In these ways, there is common bond.

And when we fall apart, when someone reaches out to us in those most vulnerable moments, I think that’s the most beautiful of all.

 But isn’t it beautiful the way we fall apart/
It’s magical and tragic all the ways we break our hearts/
So unpredictable…we think we’re invincible/
Completely unbreakable and maybe we are/
Isn’t it beautiful the way we fall apart.
We As Human, We Fall Apart

 

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