I hate death.
Most people do but I seem to react differently. I realized in college that I experienced it a lot more than people around me. It started with all the deceased animals I had to bury in the acre lot of my adolescent home. Some affected me more than others. Some dogs took a while to die, and other rabbits didn’t make it very long past coming home. But their loss was no comparison to when I lost both granddads while 12 years old. The first as part of his downturn, the second was a middle-of-the-school-day leaving sudden surprise. And required a drive for 12 hours. Which should have prepared me at a young age for those 12 hours of hell on a flight from Fairbanks to Atlanta when I was 19 to walk into a house that was barely still home since my dad wasn’t there. I was just learning to grieve sudden auto accident deaths at that time, after my friend Lindsey was killed at 18 while chasing her dreams. My therapist says this is when I shut down. I say it is when I stopped caring deeply about people. Some say that is the same thing.
No one at 19, in my circle, had lost a parent. They didn’t know how to act. One friend had grieved her brother before, but our interactions had more to do with hormones than grieving. So I became a lone wolf. Hitting the road and shutting down when amazing friend’s fiancees died. When friends of friends had breast cancer, heart attacks, fatal injuries, car accidents. I mean I got pissed at God, or the world, or life and then after a couple days I shut it all in. I ran and stopped going deeper with people because it hurt me when they died. I had no real friends. Only friends that knew the superficial me. Appearances were kept up well. When facades cracked, I moved…two years max was the motto.
I have lived in Portland for four years and 3 weeks now. It feels good, it feels right. I went to counseling to deal instead of run and started being vulnerable to friends. It is a good feeling most of the time. In the last month, since the beginning of the year, I have realized some major life change will happen this year. It doesn’t always feel safe or good, but it feels right.
I have had a couple dreams in the last weeks…well two weeks that have shaken this “good” feeling. The invisible people—those often forgotten or overlooked by society or the world—have gotten more of my focus in the last year. I am more involved in their lives and by proxy they in me. But I had lines. One of the biggest was to look at a weekly feeding I coordinate as just that…”We provide food, nothing else. If we have something else, it is lucky and not to be expected.” Even the meal had lines that I didn’t cross. Not caring if we ran out faster than planned, didn’t provide a vegetarian, kosher or halal option or only had spoons when forks were required.
This year that is changing. We are providing more. I am engaging more. Birthday cards have been bought. Boot orders filled on an as needed basis. Tents are still being looked for. And bigger needs like housing and jobs are being considered, not just dismissed.
Back to those dreams…
I have dreamt twice those I made connections with have died. Ironically, the three people my girlfriend made the strongest connection with were the ones in my dreams. The first dream was proved false yesterday. My 6 hat wearing buddy showed up and brought his newly arrived lady. This was an amazingly welcome relief after dreaming about his demise 6 or so days before. But I awoke in a cold sweat this morning when another couple were not only dead in the dream, but their cold, frozen bodies brought to me. A father and his skateboarding son. The son was still breathing and somehow I knew I was in charge of them. They were my responsibility to keep alive. In the dream, I ran away…literally ran away.
My subconscious knew what I would do in my own power…
Luckily, I am a hero after my real feelings take place in my dreams and I remember being in a hospital while both were being “chemically warmed”. Not sure what that means, but it means they were resurrected. It means by someone’s caring they were given life again.
As I type those words, I tear up. I am not sure I could handle a friend freezing to death because I was too busy to give a damn. Too broke to donate the needed time. Too tired and consumed with other people or things to fight for their rights…to live.
But unlike 4 years, I don’t fear death, but maybe it fears me. Partly because I believe in a being who has shown death has no power. And I still hope like hell I don’t have to face it so, that I don’t actually have to take a frozen body to a hospital. But if I do have to deal, and lead and be in charge of keeping someone alive. It isn’t about just me because I have heavenly and earthly support.
If you pray, please pray that I have no reason to fear death, nor do the invisible people around me. If you are in Portland, please come meet some of my invisible friends.