I believe in loss. I believe in poverty, wars, tragedy. I believe in death. I believe in sadness.
Now I don’t enjoy any of the above mentioned things. I don’t seek them out, wanting to feel grief, despair, pain, etc. I don’t wear black, and I gave up on my obsession with The Smiths years ago in college. There’s a part of me that cringes when I see the terrible things that happen in the world on a daily basis. I seek to escape them in anything I can: exercise, bad reality TV, a mindless movie. At all costs, I try to avoid them, however, I embrace and believe in sadness.
Sadness makes us stronger. Sadness makes us better people. At the time it’s terrible, at the time it’s the last place I want to be at, but it’s necessary. Nearly ten years ago, my grandfather passed away. I had been to several funerals before, but he was the first person I truly loved and cared for that I no longer got to talk to or see again. It wasn’t an abrupt death. It was slow and painful. I watched my mother, tears streaming down her face, a sight I had never seen before and never want to see again, calling for weekly updates on her father’s health. I fought with his death. I fought wanting to think about it, talk about it, and deal with it, but I knew this couldn’t last.
I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I walked into that funeral parlor in Tampa. I greeted and shook hands with many of my grandfather’s friends, co-workers, fellow members of his church choir, but I didn’t know these people. I accepted their heart-felt remarks and sympathy, but I don’t remember what any of them said or looked like today. Finally, after the assembly line of grief, everyone filed in and took a seat, and I had to face my fear. I was confronted with his death. There he was, covered in bad make-up, lying petrified in a wooden box directly in front of me. I broke down. I couldn’t contain myself. Up until that moment, I had shed few tears over his impending death, but now I no longer had any control. I pushed people away who attempted to comfort me. I rejected any tissue or water, although I desperately needed both. I wallowed in the sadness that I fought and ignored for so long, and I never thought I’d be so happy to be so sad.
I tried to avoid the grief I felt that July night for so long, instead of embracing it. It scared me, and I’m sure the sounds of a wounded bear (my brother’s description after the fact) scared the numerous attendants that evening, but I’m better off for it. I need sadness to appreciate the ones that I do have. I need sadness to appreciate the life that I can still lead. I need sadness to be happy.
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