I thought that when I saw your funeral pyre, I’d finally believe that you’re gone. But as I watched the logs of wood turn black and white, start to crack and finally, core charred, collapse into dust – mingling with your ashes, as I watched the flames liquefying the air above, or the fresh logs being added up top, or the small concrete plot under the tin roof, it still did not feel true.
On the corner where your body lay, a number 5 was painted on the concrete base. I stared at that number five for a long time. I stared at the fire. I stared at the roof. I stared at the three empty plots beside you. I stared because I didn’t know what else to do, and anything was better than thinking about the fact that you were gone.
I can’t fathom it, and yet it’s real. I wondered if your soul infused the ash or whether it floated upwards in the smoke, I wondered if you were there, watching us, watch you.
Grief is a strange thing I find, it comes in waves. When it strikes, my insides seem to twist and contort, squeezing the tears from my eyes, clenching my jaw and forcing strange sounds out that I barely recognize as my own.
Then suddenly it stops and I feel this hollow emptiness, and numbness like nothing really exists anymore. And then I try to make sense of it, putting the pieces of the puzzle together and trying to rearrange them in my mind, for something to be different, for you to have survived.
And then you realize the futility of it all because I can’t rewind and recut this scene any other way, lines of tape strewn around my fingers, trembling for one more chance. And then once again my insides contort.
It is a cycle of tears and pain, punctuated by moments of cold rationality and emptiness. And no matter how much you cry, there is still more weeping inside you waiting to come out.
I fought the news I was hearing about you. Fought it all my heart. But no one ever wins these battles and belief or disbelief becomes irrelevant. Thoughts and feelings are so minute in comparison to the behemoth that is death.
It was a losing battle and I knew from the start, but I couldn’t not fight it. I couldn’t not pray and hope. Even today I want you to come back. Even today I want to hope that you’ll just walk in like nothing happened. Even today I want you to win the battle.
And no matter how hard I try, it appears that futile hope is the only thing that death can’t kill.