Today during my commute time I was listening to an audiobook. I’m not going to tell you which one because I don’t want to give away any plot lines or anything, but as I was listening today a young man died. He was put to death for a murder he didn’t commit. His family was there to witness his execution, and then his body was taken to the mortuary at his home town. He was part of the African American community there, and the author noted that while the white people in town always wanted to get their funerals done and over with quickly, the African American community lingered over them, taking their time in a long goodbye.
His mom met the hearse at the mortuary, and after he was carried in and laid out, the mortuary director turned him over to her. It was sad, heartbreaking in every way. And she prepared him herself for burial. She took a pair of scissors and cut the jail clothes off him, strip by strip, putting them in a pile. Then she took a basin of warm sudsy water and washed him, and dressed him. As on the day of his birth, so on the day of his death.
I am listening to this as I am driving to my office. Bare blocks away I have tears streaming down my face. No sobs, you know, just this overflowing water that keeps coming out of my eyes.
I was thinking about it still this evening, the sorrow of this young man’s death, of his mother’s loss. There are no thoughts behind my feelings. Sometimes I don’t really understand myself. On the one hand I quite honestly sometimes feel that I am practical and even hardened. There is so much in life that is painful that I just HATE. I hate it and I turn away from it. I get angry instead of getting sad.
Maybe just because the sad is too deep. Tears are still filling my eyes hours later over the death of that young man, and the funny thing is that at one point I thought that is something I couldn’t survive. And the next minute I remembered … oh, I have. I have lost a child. And I know those overflowing tears are not just for that fictional son who died.
One day, when I’m all alone, I think I’m going to have to dive down into those waters that I avoid so vehemently. I’m going to have to jump in and allow myself to be surrounded and covered in that grief, and to scream and cry and carry on.
And then what? I don’t know. That’s the thing about grief and sorrow. They don’t go away. If I scream and cry for five minutes will it help? What if I stop then? Or would I feel better if I went on for a half an hour? So much futility. There is just nothing, nothing, nothing you can do that helps. And I guess that’s why I sidestep it, avoid it, why I get angry sometimes, instead of getting sad. It’s just so much helplessness.