Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What Three Deaths Have Taught Me

Earlier this week I found out someone from my past had died at the young age of 31. While I was never romantically involved with him (though I did have a crush on him for a while in my early-mid teens) nor were we ever really friend, I still have great memories of the couple of times I interacted with him. I don't like talking about that part of my life because of all the drama associated with it (read: ex-boyfriend from heck was involved; they knew each other) so I'll leave it at that: a genuinely nice guy from my past whom I have fond memories of. Though the last time I spoke to him was when I was maybe 17 years old, his death hit me harder than I would've ever imagined... and it gave me a jolt back to life, in a way.

Prior to my father's death in 2009, the only death that affected me in a profound way was my paternal grandmother's death in March 2005. My grandmother's death was the first I dealt with loss of a close person. I didn't know how to mourn. I was 19, about to turn 20. I hadn't seen her since my early teens but I still loved her nonetheless. When I found out that she had been asking for me on her deathbed (for both my father and I... and only my father and I), it hit me harder. She wanted me by her side in her final moments and I couldn't be there because she was in Mexico and I was in the middle of Spring semester at Santa Monica College here in Southern California. Dad left as soon as he found out she had little time left and he didn't even get to say "goodbye" in time because she passed away quite quickly. From her death, I was taught the importance of friends  and family during hard times.

The next death that hit me hard was my father's. Those of you who have read this blog long enough may remember the blog posts I've written about it, including one I wrote two weeks after he passed. Some of you might've even read the article that I wrote for Envoy Magazine which I wrote a few months after I had gotten over some of the numbness that followed his death. No death has hit me as hard since his. I'll be honest, having to deal with my father dying has also meant that I've had to learn to deal with anger. A few weeks before he passed and to this day, I have moments in which I can't control my temper. I will physically walk away and let myself cool down because I know how sharp my tongue can be when I'm angry. Those moments may not last long (I can calm down nearly as quickly as I get fired up) nor as they frequent as they used to be, but it's something I'm still working on. I honestly didn't know I was capable of getting that angry until I had to deal with his death. As the time passes (the 7th anniversary of his death is coming up in July), I find it easier to deal with my temper when it flares up. I think I'm averaging about 3-5 minutes in which it's best to leave me alone until I cool off. Again, doesn't happen very often but it's something that I made a goal to work on this year. I even bought the book Overcoming Sinful Anger by Fr. T Morrow to help me out. From my father's death, I learned so many things including the power of forgiveness and of moderating my temper (he had a strong choleric temper and I seem to have inherited a bit of it when I see someone I love being hurt).

The death of this young man from my past reminded me of how fragile life is and how important it is to take care of yourself. I won't go into details about who he was or even his death for obvious reasons (read: privacy issues and not wanting to think about painful memories) but let's just say that his death was sad and possibly preventable. It was a sad ending for someone I thought highly of. It wasn't only me; I don't seem to recall hearing a bad thing about him from any mutual friends. I lost touch with all those people from my past shortly before my reversion (I learned to remove toxic friendships early on) so I don't know much about what was going on with him other than what has been made known to everyone. He had been ill for a while -- something another friend has been dealing with for years as well -- but wasn't doing what was necessary to keep himself healthy. If I needed anything to help me kick into high gear on my own self-care, it was this. I've already been making good progress but I can definitely do more. After hearing about his death, I definitely felt the push to do those things instead of putting it off due to lack of energy and whatever else SAD has been weighing me down with lately. Again, I'm really surprised at how much his death has affected me, especially since I hadn't seen him since I was like 16 and I hadn't talked to him since I was 17, but I think it was hearing about it and remembering how much healthier I was during that time of my life (despite the ex-boyfriend drama), that kicked me back into this "alright, let's do this!" mentality. Also, friendly reminder to myself to not forget to have a Mass said for him since, if memory serves me right, he was also Catholic.

I've experienced the loss of aunts, uncles, and even the death of my niece's daughter (my second eldest brother's first grandchild) but these have been the three deaths that have taught me more. All three have happened at significant times in my life which I think may be why they've all affected me profoundly.

Anyway, I have a couple of things to do today (and my laptop battery is almost at 42% with no plans to charge it until after 8 p.m. in 7.5 hours) so I should go do them. If you could please say a prayer for the soul of this young man (his name was Michael) and his family, please do so.

I hope y'all are having a good week thus far.

As always, thanks for reading and God bless!

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