i recently listened to an old episode of a podcast that i have become slightly obsessed with called terrible, thanks for asking. and before you get all in your feelings and roll your eyes at me and call me the pessimist that i already know i can be; let me tell you something that i heard from this podcast that hasn’t left my brain. the only people who understand grief are those who are grieving. and grief isn’t something that ends. it’s just lighter sometimes and insanely overwhelming other times. so for me, who like many others, had their life turned completely upside down on a tuesday morning in april four and half years ago when my best friend and mother of two fifteen year old twins, was instantly killed on impact by a two thousand and eleven audi traveling northbound in la plata, maryland; you come to understand a few things. particularly about who is around you and what’s around you and everything that happens next. ya know- the moments following that horrific news are completely gone from my brain. all i remember is vomiting on my classroom floor and someone hugging my shoulder as i shared that news with other members of my school community. i remember laying on the floor of my classroom and sobbing and a kid walked in and got down on her knees beside me and stroked my hair. that’s all i remember. the next ten days, i laid in my bed. i cried. i didn’t sleep. i snapped at my then boyfriend, now husband. i dialed her voicemail thousands of times. i reread hundreds of text message feeds. i shopped online and cleaned out her classroom. i yelled a lot. i cried a lot. i sang in the hallways with children i never taught. i had over four hundred letters from students piled on my desk. i made macaroni and cheese from scratch for the first time ever to feed the five hundred people who attended her funeral service.
but here’s the thing, this blog post is not about grief. it’s actually about finding people when the world has swallowed everything you’ve ever known. in the old episode of the podcast i recently listened to, i had this incredible realization that we are in fact never alone. there is always someone out there going through something just like we are. someone with a broken heart. or a new job to celebrate. or thousands of dollars in student debt. or a chipped tooth. or a migraine. or a job they hate. or a job they love. or a toxic friend or a person they can’t walk away from. or a new love or an old love or no love. we really are accompanied by so many people, who are walking right beside us. going through some of the ugliest of times. walking through the thickest of downpours. skipping through rays of sunshine. we aren’t alone. even when life gives us all the reason to believe that we are. and while death is what made me feel so lonely for so long because i felt so alone in it; because i was grasping for air on the edges of the waves of grief; because i was desperate for search and rescue to come take me. in all of that, i found myself alone on purpose. not because of my situation. my yelling and my regression and my anger and my bitterness and my tears and my grief, they pushed everyone out. so i could announce ‘lonely! right over here!” and let me tell you, i play the leading role in my own drama and it’s one of the longer running ones but i have to say it- we aren’t alone. in fact, when trying to find a title for this that wasn’t ‘not alone’, there are only four antonyms for alone and about a hundred synonyms. loneliness is an epidemic and i am telling you that we aren’t alone. not in the slightest.
we are accompanied by many. so so so many. so many people who are dealt with the same shit or the same sparkles. we make ourselves lonely by failing to say, ‘hey, this happened to me and it sucks and here’s what i need’. put your needs on a damn sandwich board, okay? because we create loneliness out of fear of bringing others down the dark holes with us.
but in reality, the only way out of the dark hole is by asking for some light.
so find your accompaniment. i am always available and willing. and i bet you are too.