Grief. It comes in waves. Sometimes it’s a tidal wave and unexpected. It knocks you down and drowns you in its sorrow and you find yourself struggling to break the surface. Other times it’s a rising tide. You see it coming and the numbness slowly creeps into your bones. Either way, grief is inevitable when you’ve lost a loved one. It becomes less frequent as time moves on, but it isn’t any less potent.
Those of us who survive it. Who somehow remain afloat in our grief. Come to understand that it never fully fades. Rather it transforms. It becomes the driving force behind our feelings, actions, and decisions. Because, you see, we carry the loss within us. And whether we know it or not it profoundly changes us.
It has been one year and twenty-one days since I lost my dear friend. An individual who never judged me or my decisions, but loved me simply because I was me. And I know that sounds cliché, but it is a genuine truth. He never tried to change who I was. He accepted my flaws and oftentimes pushed me to be better. He was my counselor in times when I could not find my own way. He was my confidant in times when the truth I needed to tell was too hard to say out loud. He was my shoulder to cry on at times when I felt like life had turned on me. He changed my outlook on the world in small incremental ways and for that I will be forever thankful. He was everything, until he wasn’t.
I now find myself fighting to hold on to the other relationships in my life. Clinging to any time that I am given with my loved ones because I have felt loss. Not the type you see coming. Not the type that is expected. But a loss that blind sides you and steals the breath from your being. A loss that you were never prepared for and yet because of it you find yourself having to rebuild the part of you that is now empty. It forces you to cherish every moment you have on this earth and every moment you had previously forsaken with those around you. Because our time is limited. I would like to believe that I will die old and grey, but the truth is no one knows when their time is. It’s not a decision we make. It’s one made for us. And so I make time. I move my schedule around constantly to give myself time with those I love. Because if at the end I can look back on my life and reminisce on all the memories of the times I spent with my loved ones. I’ll know I lived a good life.
Because life is not about the money you make, the material assets you gain, or even the dreams you achieve. It’s the moments that you allow others to live life with you. The seconds, hours, days, and weeks that you allow people to love you and you give your love in return. Life is the experiences and lessons you learn from individuals who cross your path. It is fundamentally about living in the moment with those around you. You don’t get time back once it has passed. You can’t physically relive memories. And you can’t bring loved ones back once they’re lost.
I miss him every day. There hasn’t been a day in this past year that I have not thought of him, his family, and his friends. But I live, in each solitary moment, because that is what he would expect of me. And to not do so would be to dishonor his memory. I understand my grief will never fully go away, but as I transform so does it. And each new day it pushes me to be a better version of myself then I was before.
So to those of us who have been left behind I say to you this. Stop to take time to reach out to those people in your life that you neglect. Make a phone call. Set up a lunch date. Stop by their homes. But stop to take time. You can’t predict if that time will still be there tomorrow. And I promise you this. You will regret those moments when you chose to push the time you have with them to the side for other endeavors that will never be half as fulfilling as being there with them. What makes us human are those moments when we love others more then ourselves. When the wellbeing of a loved one is top priority over any success or accomplishments you could ever have. And what makes us real is embracing those moments of loss. Taking in the pain and grief and reinventing it. Transforming the loss, into living.
In loving memory of Joseph Amadeo Razo