TW: Death, grief, suicide mention.
I have found out that two people passed away while watching Winnie the Pooh.
I remember exactly when during the movie the news came both times. I remember the first time, in 2014, how the movie played in the background while I stared into my ex-partner’s eyes. I will never know whose face was whiter, or who cried first. All I know is that Pooh did get his honey, but I still feel pretty bad for the bees.
In 2015 I remember I was sleeping on the floor in my apartment in Lancaster. My father texted me to tell me my grandfather was dead. It is remarkable how quickly your body can go completely numb.
I don’t watch Winnie the Pooh anymore. I know where the naloxone is in my house. I am always the DD. I send people texts before I call so they know everyone is still alive. I keep a list of suicide hotline numbers saved in my bookmarks. I move through the world expecting death. What I don’t understand is how anyone else doesn’t.
People don’t know how to talk to you while you’re grieving. It’s like you have the flu and no one wants to breathe near you. People think your sadness – your step closer to mortality – will rub off on them. I find that the more people that die around me, the closer I do feel to death. It bothers me that we spend so much energy trying to pretend like it doesn’t happen. Trying to act surprised every time someone passes. Trying to pretend like our time isn’t always coming.
I think that’s why people are so afraid of grief. We’re always trying to be happy and positive. We’re taught to try to arc our lives towards the good, the wholesome, what feels right and light. Grief is the opposite of all of that, to some. But when you live with it long enough, it just becomes part of who you are. My grief feels like a necklace that hangs under my skin, I forget about it until it snags on something, my bra or my shirt or someone else’s teeth.
I feel the pang of the loss, the pang of words unsaid, the pang of lives un-lived. You wish you’d said “I love you” one more time. You wish you could change anything, everything. But it is who I am, now… I am made up of the parts that are missing.
These days when bad things happen the first thought that runs through my head, “is everyone alive? Are all my friends alive?” If the answer is yes then I pull my head up and walk on.
My friend Matt Toby’s birthday is today. He died almost three years ago. He would have been 28.
I carry him with me in everything that I do. I’m not the same person I was when he died. I think about what he would say about where I am and what I’m doing. I’m living my life in a way that makes me happy, that makes me feel proud. I am figuring out what my truth is and I am learning how to sing it louder and harder. I try to find comfort in the way he would smile if I could tell him who I am now, who we all are now.
I want so very much to laugh with him, to sing with him, to ask him what he thinks about our world, to hear about the life he could have made in these last three years.
I miss you, Matt. Happy fucking birthday.