Some have been gone for years, others for days, months, a few minutes. It has been nearly 10 years since I last saw him. In the early days of loss, my mind was muddled by the sheer weight of all that happened, and it was interesting to find how rather quickly time pays no mind to a passing. The aftermath of it all also somehow escapes into thin air. What remains is but a series of memories imprinted in your heart’s memory, chasing you to remember not to forget the good parts. But what lingers is this lasting feeling of without. We often get so used to someone’s presence until all that is left is a memory and the wind picks up again and you watch as the branches and leaves dance with each other bringing you back to knowing.
Staying any longer would not lessen the heaviness that clouded our lives these last six months. I wanted to be away from it all and wanted my dad’s suffering to end, but not in a way that would mean he wouldn’t get to stay. Stepping outside of his room I slowly walked down the hallway with no regard to the sounds around me. All I could hear were the thoughts in my head and heart. Taking a right, past the nurses’ station I firmly pressed the elevator button and stepped into a space that could carry not only me, but also bodies that were injured, healing, or like me, none of the above. Finding myself alone how odd, I thought, to be in a hospital filled with people, yet in an empty elevator with just me and my thoughts. For once, there was too much space. The doors slid open and found myself wandering around the first floor and decided to head toward the bathroom as if to bide more time from leaving him. I didn’t want to leave. Reaching for the handle, I felt the heaviness of the door as I pulled it open and stood in the common area of the bathroom. Taking a few steps toward the sink, I looked intently upon my reflection. Placing my hands on the countertop, I stood there looking straight into my own eyes thinking this could be the last time. I didn’t want to believe what I knew deep down to be true. Watching through the mirror tears began to fill my eyes, blurring my vision. As my eyes closed, warm tears fell down my cheeks and landed somewhere below. He was only a few floors above me, resting or giving up, I’m not sure which, but I knew somehow this would be the last time I’d see him alive. I felt pulled to go back upstairs to sit with him just a little while longer. And maybe, if I could utter any words, tell him everything I could that I never got a chance to, but only with the whisper of my beating heart all these years. In those delicate moments between floors, I felt he was struggling and surrendering to exist, and I was doing the same. Taking a deep breath, I gathered myself, yet again and opened the heavy door to exit and to enter into the unavoidable unknown.
The emotions that flooded into my life during that time and space were but a whirlwind of life moving in its inevitable directions and far from what I thought I could control. Grief has a way of plunging us forward while causing much rumination about the past as if it would bring anything back from before. Words evade grief’s very thorough acts, leaving those familiar with it to understand that it can have this power that makes us unrecognizable even to ourselves. There are still yet other variations of grief I am finding and holding onto pieces of the past that drive me forward.
It’ll soon be 10 years since I last saw him, with time moving as mystically as it does, the grief doesn’t grasp me as it once did. The weight of life shifts as it should, even in our refusal to find refuge in something so familiar as our past. Knowing grief has turned out to be a gift in that it can rip you wide open just enough to see what’s real and true. That in all we do with those we love and in our days we have with one another, we are ultimately slowly saying our goodbyes.
Monica Sakura Urso is a half Sicilian and Japanese artist and writer.
Growing up she was always fascinated with people, places, memories and the bonds created with others.
Through her various works she delves deeper into understanding the world around her.
In 10 Years of Saying Goodbye, Monica touches on the nature of grief, but also something deep down we may already know.
She currently lives and works in Austin, Texas.