You know, it’s hard sometimes.
It’s hard to realize that someone you love can just leave in a flash, much like how they came into your life.
It is like a dance. Someone can whisk you away from your seat and bring you to the dance floor. There you can dance for ages, sharing and savoring every moment of emotion. But, you never know when the dance will end. Maybe you start to see the person getting tired before you hear them complain about the aches their body gives them. Maybe their apparent lows get into tolerable highs before the beat of the music changes. Eventually, the fog from the smoke machine clouds the dance floor, entrapping everyone, and when it clears, the person you were dancing with is gone. Nowhere to be physically found.
At least that’s my story with my Uncle Aaron.
He came into my life as a teenager and painfully left a few weeks after I turned 23. It was a relationship filled with many colors. Even near the end, the unknown made everything muddy and yet still vibrant. Streaks of bright neon stripping the sorrowful black and white. I guess you can say we had a beautiful abstract between us from start to finish.
Aaron was a wild card, I have to admit. That is why he was an absolute masterpiece on his own. This was a man who was everything in a world that was tricky. He was figuratively a magician. Like in tarot, anything he could think of was something that had potential. No obstacle was too big or too small. He just did it. And he succeeded.
When we lost him due to complications from disease and cancer, I remember feeling incredibly odd.
A sense of sadness for me, but relief for him.
We have gone through an entire year of a pandemic where he was on his deathbed, miraculously got better, and then at some point, things got bad again. He lost hope, he gained it, and then he lost it again. It was a mix of where you thought of God as either cruel or merciful for having done that. Especially at its timing and the experiences.
Aaron had gotten better and had these big dreams of going to the seaside of Cancun after he was to get out of his last surgery. He set out a goal, like almost every other he somehow accomplished to an extent, and so we believed him.
Why wouldn’t we?
He had a close encounter with death and cheated. Quite literally.
Who was to say he couldn’t do so again?
But, he didn’t. He couldn’t. He wouldn’t.
At some point, when the doctors told him that the surgery was a success, but the tumor came back, he somehow just knew that he could not escape what was coming for him.
I had a friend tell me in comfort that it was probably better this way – to not have seen him those last couple of months. Someone who was always so bright and proud to see them mentally and physically at their worst. That maybe they would not want our last memories to be where he was bedridden and ill. That I should prioritize my own well-being to not see him. That is what he would want for all of us.
What couldn’t escape me was my grave sense of empathy for the man. That is what prevented any of the comforts that were being poured to me before he passed.
I understood where they were coming from, but it left me confused.
My thoughts ran wild.
Would pride really overrun the human need for community? For support? Especially in your last moments? Where no one you love can physically see you, touch you or hold you?
What was he feeling? Alone? Cold? Scared, perhaps?
Despite my feelings and my desire to conquer the advice in not seeing him for my own ‘well-being’, Aaron would pass only a day or so after this conversation with my friend. The last time I spoke to him and saw him was only a few days before over FaceTime on the phone. There wasn’t anything more anyone could do other than the favors he left to us as promises to him after he passed.
The grief isn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but it could be because I was grieving long before he physically died. I’ve come to terms that he is gone and that I wouldn’t see him beyond photos, videos, or memories. Having created a music playlist in his honor has helped me quite a bit to remember the good times and laugh rather than cry.
Most of the days when other people mention him, I can keep my head up and feel at peace. In other times, the tears aren’t controllable despite the mental debate inside. You know the one. The one where you’re so incredibly hard on yourself for even crying when you want to hold it in and the other side of yourself that tells you that this is right, that you need to cry and you need to be gentle.
The odd part of grief is that you can’t ignore it. You have to remember them. You have to remember them through the beautiful moments and the sad moments that this world presents because they live through you. Arguably, they also live through everyone you meet, kind of like a mirror or a shadow. And you have to find the duality for it.
It isn’t something you just get over or go quickly past. You need to feel it, go through it, and that’s how you better cope with it.
I also realized that you can’t live afraid of losing people either, especially to the point you’re scared of getting close to someone. You can’t live in fear from the reality that someone you love can one day go away physically. You need to love. You need to live. You need to laugh. You need to cry. You need to feel and experience all that you desire, all that you need.
You need to continue dancing that disco with people – unafraid and unapologetically – no matter when or how it ends.
In simple, Stephanie Requena is a university student that contemplates about life’s many complexities far too much. Yet, she finds them completely beautiful – even if sometimes confusing. Given her recent loss, she has found herself finally pushing towards a life she always dreamed of in honor of those who no longer can. She is currently emerging as a writer and hopes to always carry on the torch of the dear departed in her new life journey. You can find her on Instagram @stoodisstevie or her current writer’s website at rebrand.ly/srmusings