Keep Art Alive :: Art by Stella Im Hultberg
“And that cold day when you lost control,
shame you left my life so soon,
you should have told me,
but you left me far behind.”
Growing up, we are taught about death and grieving in regards to acceptable and expected death and grieving. A pet dies and we are told that life is temporary, and that an animals life span is shorter than our own, and more often than not they are replaced by a new pet, as if death is just a bridge to something new, teaching us that life is replaceable. We are taught about death when someone old dies, or someone who has been ill, or, in some cases, when an accident has happened. These are acceptable deaths, tragic yes, but again they are explained to us as a part of life. We are allowed to grieve a little bit longer, but there are rules and parameters, and we are told again and again that “life goes on“. These deaths are not as replaceable, but we are still told to go on without the person who has been lost. We learn about sympathy, about sorry, about funerals and appropriate things to say, and we learn that the dead are never spoken unkindly of, no matter who they were in life. Accidents warrant a longer grieving process, those left behind are gifted more time to go on, but still, we are told they will go on. These are the rules of death and grief, and we are all expected to fall in line with it all.
No one teaches you how to deal with suicide. No one tells you what the expectations are when the person who dies was the same person who caused you pain while they were living. There are no guides or blueprints written when you spent years watching someone self-destruct, slowly at first, but then everything accelerated and one day, a late afternoon on a Sunday, the phone rings and you hear the news on the other end, that they are gone.
No one explains that the first feeling you might experience is one of relief, that when the battles and late night threats and violence and tears and worry and shame are finally over that you might, for a moment, you might breathe deep for the first time in longer than you can remember. No one prepares you for the guilt that will follow, how you will blame yourself for every moment that you enabled or did not scream and yell for the person to stop, that you did not drag them, kicking and screaming, to get help, and that after so many bruises and battles you finally said enough, and made them go.. No one tells you either that too soon after the cold chill of numbness will rush in and take over and stay for far too long. They don’t explain that it may be years later, in a completely unexpected moment, when a song begins to play that a layer of frozen over feeling will thaw and the tears will come, hard and fast and messy. No one will be there for you then, not a soul, because it is well past the grief expiration date, and everyone knows that your life has gone on long ago.
So, you get up and turn the hot water on, feeling the steam build up and fill the bathroom. You get in the shower and let everything wash over you and off of you and you scream silently into nothing. It is there that you let the tears continue, as the gamut of emotions flood and threaten to take you under. But, you keep standing, you scrub at your skin furiously as if it is something that can ever come clean. Afterwards you stare at your reflection and you breathe, shallow and jagged at first, but soon enough you can take in the air almost all the way in. You go on because that is the one part you know, the one lesson you remember, and you try to forget, again, yes, you try not to crumble and fall. You are the one that survived, and you were the one left behind.
Far Behind :: Candlebox