Writing this now, in the year following his death, I am discovering that the ferocity of grief that comes to define your life after someone you love passes away can be terrifying. It takes so little for the angry sobbing to begin, and the incidents that cause the pent-up grief to crackle through my shields are, more than anything, mundane. Those incidents render me utterly helpless with weeping. Once it was the sight of a car that looked like the Jeep he used to drive. Another time it was when I glanced up from stir-frying bok choy and saw the photo of his that I’d stuck to my fridge door. There was a particularly harsh moment last year when I smelled Filipino food in the air and I started crying because I’d never taste his cooking again.
I walked out after the first few songs at his viewing, unwilling to look at the people, at the body that wasn’t him anymore, at the flowers that were flanking the fucking coffin. He was wearing something that I knew he would never have chosen for himself, and the anger that swept through me over the choice of clothing for a dead man’s body is like nothing that I have ever felt before or since. It felt like madness. Perhaps it was.
I did my weeping downstairs in the chapel, alone and angry. I tried to keep the pain contained, but it was, and still is, too unwieldy to hold in any container. It spilled out in my tears, and in the words flying out of my mouth as I tried to cope with the enormity of this loss. I flung my anger and my grief at nobody and at everybody, and it stained everything it touched. My brother found me a few minutes later, and he stood behind me, letting me be. Ultimately, Luis was who calmed me down.
The funeral was horrifying. There is nothing like having to bury a man while the sky is blue, a man who stepped up in every sense of the word to be your father. The sky was blue, my friend. That was a cruel joke. Couldn’t it have been raining? Couldn’t the sky be an expression of my grief? That was the cruelest thing, I think, that it was such a beautiful, ordinary day.
I will never set foot in that cemetery ever again. I can’t do it.
The week he died, I barricaded myself in my apartment, rolling around in my grief. I don’t remember what I ate. I don’t remember what I did. I remember attempting to plow through my readings. I remember seriously considering jumping onto the train tracks at Wellesley Station, and to be honest, up until quite recently it was constantly in the back of my mind. The week he died, I didn’t wash my hair for seven days; when I finally did because I had to attend classes, my hair was so thick with grease I had to shampoo twice before I got a lather.
I remember Mikaius practically living at my place – washing my dishes, doing my laundry, keeping me company. I remember Yvonne sending me an entire package of chocolate from Berlin – “to help fight the Dementors,” she wrote, in a card so full of kindness and love my heart broke even more. I remember friends sending me messages – and I remember vividly how it felt to not want to be physically touched and to not want to see anybody, but to feel secure in the knowledge that if I wanted company, I only needed to call. If you were one of the people who sent me love and light, I want you to know that I screencapped your message. They’re all in a folder buried somewhere deep in my phone, little flotation devices that I hold on to whenever I feel like drowning.
I feel so cheated, I honestly do. I feel cheated of a future we were supposed to have with him: all the missed birthdays, the graduations, long summer days roadtripping to one of the many apple orchards and pumpkin patches within an hour or two of the city. I miss him, painfully so. I still instinctively scan the parking lot for his damn Jeep whenever I’m at Mom’s.
All this to say that I wish he was still here, and there’s a lot I would give up in a heartbeat to have him back.