Getting through a tragic week without breaking down
I don’t need to say it. You don’t need me to say it. Getting through this past week has been hard. Our nation had already experienced one mass shooting that took place in Buffalo, New York on Saturday, May 14, 2022, only to have yet another stop us dead in our tracks on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. Just 10 days later. I have no clue how you have handled dealing with or processing these two events, but for me, they have been racing rapidly through my mind and the ache from each is still strong.
I floated through most of the week, trying to find my footing — trying to make sure I could perform at my highest during work hours. I maintained a calm demeanor. I handled each call I took effectively and efficiently, according to the requests that had been made. There were moments when I had to say several silent prayers to push me through, but I made it through my workweek unscathed and alive to share this newsletter.
I saw this moment without completely breaking down. How did I do that? How was I able to stay afloat above the raging waters and vicious seas? Who was my life raft? I am so thankful for a supportive and loving group of people in my life who make their presence known — who sense my sadness. Without them, I am almost certain I could not press forward on the extremely hard days life hands out occasionally.
It’s been one hell of a week, but I’m still here.
My therapist knows I am emotionally free, and she doesn’t suppress it.
Tuesday, May 24, 2022, the same day as the most recent tragic incident, I kept my therapy session. Knowing it would be at a later hour that night (7:00 p.m.) after work and settling into the evening, I had to build up the energy to log on virtually to meet with her. I am still not comfortable venturing out to her office. Call me crazy, senseless, whatever label you deem necessary to choose, but my comfort level is best at home, and at home is where most of my therapy sessions take place now.
I need to be comfortable these days — I crave it, more so than I have in the past.
We began the session with me discussing what had taken place in the last few months as I had seen her on an “as-needed basis,” but it has become clear I need to pursue my once or twice per month sessions. Speaking about my cousin’s death, then my aunt’s, followed by this nation’s tragic events, sent shivers up my spine. I waded through intense moments of crying and finally got to a point where I could talk about my growth during all of this — how I feel my cousin with me — how I know she is still here.
I talked about my cousin’s ways of loving — how she’d loved me and helped me so much during her short time on earth. I talked about the guidance I received, the advice, the strong opinions she had, and how we bounced ideas off of each other. I talked about her powerful presence, her love of children, and how anyone she came in contact with was left smiling — forever changed by her.
It is still hard to speak about my aunt. There had been so many years that had passed since I last saw her and every year between us was, “I’ve got to come and see you” or “I need to visit you where you are now,” and it never occurred. We allowed the miles between us to stay exactly that — miles between us. We did not move to close the distance, if only momentarily. And this is what I grapple with mostly — losing her without seeing her one more time.
As I cried and wiped my eyes, my therapist — although usually stoic — was shedding pieces of herself I hadn’t seen before. I apologized at one point because I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing and she said in a gentle tone to me, “Don’t you dare apologize — feel what you are feeling.” And I did. It was wholly and completely rejuvenating. Not to say that I still don’t cry in my aloneness here at home, no … I do from time to time, but to shed some of this weight in the presence of a professional listening ear was pertinent. It was what I needed, and I didn’t know it.
Another holiday is before us and I miss my people more.
With Memorial Day fast approaching, I feel the pain of these losses so much more. Each holiday that has passed since my cousin’s death (St. Patrick’s Day, Easter/My birthday, and her wedding anniversary) heightens my awareness of the finality of death, and it is a hard pill to swallow. No one could have prepared me for the extremely hard days. No one could have told me just how badly I would feel experiencing these significant days without her.
Death dates are now a part of my vocabulary. I speak in dates — when someone was living — when they died; what happened in between. Holidays are reminders of a loved one’s physical presence and form wiped away from my life. They all are merging into one — a day everyone knows about and celebrates, but I will mourn from this moment forward.
Knowing this truth, I believe it will be much more important to continue to be surrounded by family and close friends, which is why I visited my mom today. A few hours with her keeps me on my toes. The woman is a strong tower — being a holder of her past; I am aware of what my mom had to endure, and how she has conquered so much. We can be in the same room now and truly enjoy one another’s company. This only arrived with time and understanding and going through some heartache, pain, struggles, and rough periods myself.
We may have some differences, as I am sure most mother-daughter pairs do, but I am grateful for where we are now. I look forward to the upcoming holiday knowing that I will have her to call, at least, to share a significant date in time with — if only for a few moments.
I am a resilient person.
I have been through many things and I will go through many more, and if it is the Lord’s will, I will survive those things too, and come out on top. I believe this. What do you believe about yourself?
I will leave you with a quote that gave me pause — made me dwell on what I have, what I had, and what I might gain in life.
This world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel. — Horace Walpole
Welcome to The Grieving Room. I am here. You are here. We are not alone in this.
See you next Saturday.
©2022 Tremaine L. Loadholt Originally published in The Grieving Room Newsletters via LinkedIn.