As we move from Halloween into All Saint’s Day / All Soul’s Day / Dia de los Muertos I thought it an appropriate time to share this guest post by Jennifer Updike.
Modern United States culture really tries to avoid talking about death. They didn’t die, they “passed on” or “over” or “away”. We gussy up corpses and still try to make them look exactly as they did in life. And so on.
I’m not so sure that’s a great thing.
When we try to suppress (or repress) reality or our feelings, it will end up coming out.
And if we try to repress those feelings and thoughts, we may lose the gifts that our loved ones tried to give us before they died.
I think Jennifer’s essay here captures that, so without ado:
It’s been 11 years, and this date on the calendar hasn’t gotten any easier.
The weather isn’t helping. It’s pissing rain, windy, and miserable. I’m not even excited that it’s Halloween. I’ve managed to find every depressing song I own in my stuffed-full iPod. Even songs that I’ve screamed along with and moshed to are depressing today.
At least I haven’t ugly cried yet today. Maybe I cried it out earlier, but probably not.
I’m sure there’s more to come.
It’s been a hell of a year. I wish you were here, Dad, to see me laugh, to cry, to love.
Love. The biggest lesson you taught me. I fell in love with horse racing because of you. I fell in love with music because of you. Hardest of all, I learned how to love people – even when they didn’t always deserve it – because of you.
I was always a daddy’s girl. Everyone knew it. You broke my heart when you disappeared. There were days I was convinced I hated you. And yet… somewhere, deep inside, I still loved you, even at your darkest. Somethings can never be broken.
All the nights I stayed up writing you letters when you were in rehab, the times I had to visit you in jail for driving drunk again…I hated that. I tried to escape it. It didn’t work very well.
When I heard you were dead, I laughed. I didn’t know what else to do. How could you die? You were always so stubborn. How could something so simple, so everyday as death take you from me? That’s not the man I knew. You never gave up.
So much for that. The tears came eventually. I had a panic attack the day after, just because a candle holder cracked. It had held holding a candle that was burning for you.
The candle died. My love didn’t. Sometimes it’s unfortunate. I have a tendency to love too much, and it’s gotten me hurt. A lot.
But it’s also one of the greatest things I could ever experience. What would life be, without love?
Boring at best. Completely empty.
Life is a give and take game.
So I work to give love.
Even when it hurts.