Friday, July 24, 2009

But Now I'm Found

Have you ever heard someone say, "it's like I've lost a piece of myself" or "a part of me has died" after they've lost someone close to them? I've heard it here and there in real life and seen it plenty times in the movies but I've never been able to really relate to it.

Until July 21st 2009.

Someone very close to me passed away a few months ago and as expected it hit me and most of my family pretty hard, dealing with the loss of this special person, facing the reality of never being able to hug her again or feel the warmth from one of her smiles was and still remains a struggle. But just like at the end of any relationship, each day that goes by hurts just a little bit less, even if just by a fraction.

But coping with the loss and living through the stages of grief in my own private ways I never once felt like, "part of me is dead" or "I'm not the same person I once was when this person was still here."

Until July 21st 2009.

I remember walking into my aunt's bedroom as a little boy and being baffled by what she was watching on television. It was an opera on the local Public Broadcast Station. I stared as she sat completely entranced and attentive to what was going on in the production. So finally I mustered up the nerve to ask her, "why are you watching this?" and she replied, "it's beautiful honey." And that was all she needed to say. I don't know if it was because of how much I loved this woman or because of how highly I regarded her, but that was all it took for me to sit down beside her and make a feeble attempt at appreciating what I thought was something weird and far from beautiful.

So we sat there and she tried to explain everything and translate the strange language and eventually, I did indeed.....fall asleep. And although I was unable to ever really appreciate opera of any sort, I continued to at least try to see the same beauty in it that she saw. For the next 20+ years, I can't say that I went out of my way to find opera but in the event that I came across it accidentally, I would pause and take a moment to try and catch a glimpse of the beauty before I moved on to something more enjoyable. But sadly, my aunt and I grew apart geographically and as usual, time and distance damaged the relationship that I cherished so much which made it easier for me to forget why I even bothered looking for the hidden beauty in "The ThreePenny Opera" or "A Night at the Chinese Opera".

Until July 21st 2009.

As I drove to work that morning, (July 21st) I searched the radio airwaves for anybody playing anything other than commercials or Michael Jackson tributes. Normally I don't have this issue but on this day my iPod battery was dead because I had forgotten to charge it the night before. So as I scanned the airwaves, as the auto search stopped on one of those radio stations in the 800's and right away I recognized a familiar "weirdness". It was an opera. Almost instinctively my finger reached out to set the station and stop the auto search from moving on. And after only seconds it dawned on me that driving had become more difficult because of the tears filling up in my eyes. It was like 30 years of fond memories and love had smacked me in the face and reminded me of something that connected me to this person in a way that no one else was a part of.

I was foolish enough to think that turning my back on opera, or my quest to understand it was a way to avoid dealing with me not being with my aunt even before she passed but I was wrong. I see now that struggling through a few minutes of "The Mask of Orpheus" was how I could always feel close to her. It was my way of keeping her alive in my own way and one day if I'm lucky enough to actually see that elusive beauty then I can pass that appreciation on to my daughter, ensuring my aunt's legacy even further.

So yes, I can relate now to people, both real and cinematic when they say, "I loved her so much, that I lost part of myself when I lost her", because even though I didn't realize it, that's exactly what happened to me.

Until July 21st 2009.



Writebrain82 said...

Wow...I'm sitting here with the tears just streaming down my face, not just because I can empathize (My Tio) but because I know how close you and Aunt Alice were. I can tell you almost 3 years later that eventhough everyday it seems to get easier to actually come to grips with their death, the breathes you take in between trying to choke back the tears doesn't. When someone isn't just merely "in" your life, but they actually in some ways, "give you life" you do die; at least a piece of you does, and though others come and fill their space, NO ONE can ever take their place. This was beautiful....hard to read, but Beautiful. Welcome back...

The Counselor said...

Glad you had me check out your post the other day. I loved it---as I do all of them :)

Usually, I don't comment, but due to the nature of the post---tonight I will.

I know all too well the confusion and hurt that the loss of a loved one can leave in our hearts. Because death is something that will inevitably happen to all of those that we love---it's important that we cling on to memories. I guess that's why it's so important to spend our time on earth actively loving those in our lives---so when they're gone--we have a host of memories to pull from.

My daddy died when I was 8. Twenty five years later---it hurts the same as it did the night I was told I'd never see him again. With every milestone, I find myself wondering "would he be proud", "what would he say", "would he approve", etc. It's crazy the things you hold on to....guess that's why I'm so crazy about all the gangsta movies...My mom didn't want us to watch them, but everytime we were alone--that's exactly what we did! Strange right? So..when I'm silent during The Godfather, or smiling from ear to ear watching Carlito's way, or yelling during Scarface--It's my strange way of keeping the memory of my daddy alive. Alot different from Opera----but just as tear-jerking when you scratch below the surface.

Not everybody had an Aunt Alice and because you did---you're a better man. Feel comfort in knowing she loved you as much (or more) than you loved her. I remember sitting in the kitchen on Franklin Place while she told me all the stories about you growing up and I'll always smile when I think of how shocked she was when she told me she found out her hair stylist was a Puerto Rican...LOL.

1. Never forget she's always with you.

2. And make sure you keep her alive in your thoughts and in your stories to Zari. Help Zari to love her just as much as you did :) know I'm bad ;)

Robin said...

Read this, this morning. Couldn't bring myself to comment until now....

I think we've all got 'pulse' points... places that are our own, waiting to be touched by someone. When they are, magic happens. When they aren't, humans remain fallow.

I am so sorry, Chris. And yet I'm so glad. The fact that you mourn her so, means that her life was meaningful and goes on in you.

And knowing you, it will then go on with Zari. Life lives on as long as those who come later are told stories that hold value.

I sense some stories coming. I hope Zari adds me to her blog....

Anne said...

So sorry to hear about your auntie passing. I never know what to say at times like this, but my thoughts are with you.

paz y amor said...

Hey man, those 800's stations have the best music on the radio! But of course that's coming from the king of that radio "weirdness"
Welcome back to the blogworld man. Now if I could just welcome myself back to it, then this comment would be a bit more legit!

secret agent woman said...

I started this earlier and decided to wait until I could have the time to read it properly. I'm sorry, and I get it. When my brother died I had that feeling that life would not be the same. Seven years later it still hits me sometimes out of the blue and I feel my eyes well up with tears.

Genese said...

What a beautiful message Chris! I too have a delayed reaction to death. In Aunt Alice's case, it really didn't hit me until weeks later when I was scrolling through my cell phone's address book and saw her name and number still listed....