Sometime last week, I scrawled:
And if we were given the choice to love
Or live forever
We would dig our own graves.
These were the words that were echoing in my head the way people get songs stuck on repeat. They are written diagonally across the page, under the grocery list I sent my father when I had covid and across from the to do list I wrote the next day. Not a space for pomp and circumstance, or really a spot one might plan for philosophy.
There really aren’t words in English, or any other language that I know, to accurately express emotion. Probably because emotion is too complex a concept to be captured by nothing but shared vocabulary. I think that’s why we make art and write poetry. We are trying to communicate this thing that is personal and specific and universally experienced.
All of which is to say, that grief is still an a mindfuck. I still cry regularly, though rarely in front of people now. I still have days in which the weight of missing Jason is more than I can physically bear and I collapse on my dining room floor from the pressure of it. I keep a box of tissue in the car, just in case. I’m glad I don’t wear makeup because I’d have to have a whole damn touch up kit if I did.
Five years ago, the world found out Jason died. Five years and a day ago, Jason was killed. In a world of social media and nearly instantaneous communications, the delay was intentional. I waited to tell the world in the impersonal until after I had made the phone calls and dealt with the personal and specific. I still missed people. If I had it to do again, I would have waited until after lunch to make the information public.
I don’t have another eulogy to write to Jason. I don’t have wisdom conferred by grief.
I have myriad stories of his life and a never ending love that has no outlet. I have the knowledge of what it was like to be deeply loved and to have loved in return. I have an echo of his laughter and a career in the arts that he helped me build. I have a house and a cat that were meant to be ours, not mine.
I have friends who never met him. I have skills he never watched me learn. I have a degree he didn’t watch me finish, and am working towards another one he never helped me start. I have a life I built, without him.
Here is the dichotomy that breaks my soul: I am proud of who I am now. And who I am now would never have existed if Jason had lived. When he died, the person I was sputtered out next to him. I had to re-invent and re-create myself around the hole he left. And I have. I kept living. At some point, I went from surviving to thriving. And I’m proud of me. But at the same time, I wish I never would have become who I am now. It is a dichotomy I hold on a daily basis and one I have learned to live with.
I miss him. I will miss him forever. I will love him until my heart stops beating. And until then, I will go on living, and hopefully thriving.
And I was given the choice to love
Or live forever.
I will dig my own grave.