An intense mix of various emotions has been consuming me both yesterday and this morning as I write this. Losing my Mamaw, one of the most important people in my life ever, was devastating. I am finding some comfort in the support of my family and my partner, and as the veil got thinner and thinner I have started to feel her occasionally. I wanted to tell the story of my papaw’s passing and how it related to hers. Obviously trigger warnings for death, hospitals, illness. Also warning for brief mention of an abusive partner.
In the fall of 2008 I was notified by my mom that he had a stroke and was currently in the hospital. I remember it was during mid term as I had to ask professors if I could take them late. When I got the hospital I tried never to leave my Mamaw’s side, just like when her sister passed a way. It was important to me to be her “little rock” just like she told everyone I was at 17 when I held her hand during the entire funeral planning process for her sister. They had told her my mom, and my uncle that while they could save his life but he would basically be in a vegetative state, and it was no secret how he felt about that. The decision was made to respect his wishes and allow him to die.
I was in the room when he died, the memory will be forever imprinted on my brain. I was standing at the bedside holding had when his breathing just…stopped. No strange noises no big event. He was asleep, snoring like he always did then it just stopped. There was the briefest pause of silence before all the tears and a new surge of emotions came.
Just like with her losing him back then was more than devastating. My already terrible mental health spiraled after that. I stopped going to class, I only ate when the pains in my stomach got to intense, and most days I was either sleeping or or lost in my own head in a weird numb state. Thank goodness I was able to drag myself to hang outs with friends sometimes, they were the few times I didn’t feel completely dead inside.
It was about 2 years until I finally got closure. In 2010 I joined a wiccan coven after some long internal looks at my beliefs. I won’t go into super detail about all that here but may do so in a future post. I specifically am just mentioning the Samhain ritual that year. My first one, the one I will never forget. At one point we had a moment of silence to invite or try to speak with someone we had lost recently.
I felt him.
For the first time in 2 years I felt his comforting presence, I saw his smile in my head, I could hear his voice. Our family fell apart after his death, he told me that in time we would all come back together that it would be ok. My life was crazy, I was still in an abusive relationship, I was barely making enough money to survive, I had started having migraines literally every other day, and my mental health while better was still not great. In that moment I felt comfort, peace, and safety I don’t even know if I had ever felt prior in my entire life. I felt weak, he told me I was strong. I felt hopeless and he assured me I would make it. It would get better.
That ritual was the point, the exact moment that I got closure.
Losing her this year, I don’t even know if I can write adequate words. It’s still so fresh that to be honest I’ve got a stream of tears rolling gown my face as I write. It was sudden, a diagnoses and 2-3 months to live. I am so fucking grateful I got to go to Colorado and visit her for a week. During that week I saw cousins and family members I had not seen for 8-10 years. I as worried that it would be tense or awkward, as I said we all fell apart after my Papaw’s death. It wasn’t, there was a lot of catching up to do but it felt natural. We talked and joked and felt like a complete family again. After I left Colorado, I tried calling to check in as often as I could. I had a panic attack after every phone call. My partner was very supportive throughout all of this and I am beyond grateful to him for that.
She passed in August, we had her service in September, on her birthday. It was lovely and I cried during the whole thing.
After that ritual back in 2008 I noticed that I could feel Papaw’s presence occasionally. Since that August day when I lost my Mamaw, I feel her too, right beside him. I feel them as a comforting presence, i can see their smile in my mind’s eye. I still feel grief, and I know that will get less and less painful with time. Being able to reach out to them doesn’t magically make the emotions that come with losing someone go away, and that is perfectly normal and healthy. It does help my grieving process, but it is different than having them physically here. They both taught me what kind of person I wanted to be.
They were both so kind and polite to anyone and everyone. My Papaw, made friends wherever he went and my Mamaw never yielded when she had made her mind up about something. They were two of the most generous people I know, loved everyone in the family dearly, and were my biggest role models.
Today Jarrod and I plan to watch some scary movies and hang out. Later tonight I personally plan to work with the two of them. Maybe we will just talk, maybe I might ask for advise on how to deal with this mess of a world, maybe I’ll just sit in their precence and allow all of my emotions to be felt with them there to comfort. Whatever I do I think it will be healing for me.
I hope whatever your plans tonight, you enjoy them. Blessed Samhain and Happy Halloween y’all.