The first time death affected me personally was when my sister was killed. I was 13 going on 14 and had never really experienced death beyond losing a family dog that I wasn’t very close to. Even then, my sister Crissy was cremated and we still have her ashes. I had never experienced visiting a gravesite, where you stand there knowing your loved one’s body was under the earth you were mourning over. I had visited the site where Crissy and her friend’s bodies were dumped, which now had two huge crosses constructed and felt that sick feeling of imagining her decomposed body lying on the earth I now sobbed over. I never thought about how I would feel standing over her actual body dead and deep in the ground.
As I hiked up that steep hill my heart was pounding and stinging, which I could not determine was because I was out of shape or I was about to visit where we buried Sinister’s body. I felt anxious about going but also felt this need to visit and see it again. It has been almost three weeks since we put his body into that hole and I wondered what I would find. Had an animal dug him up and used his body for food? Would the flowers we left be alive and blooming? Would I feel him near me? As I walked around the path I could see the hilltop in the distance and it was so beautiful yet I cried and felt so sad. I was listening to the Howard Stern show the whole way up, avoiding the feelings and trying to trudge along. As I got to the bottom of the hill Sinister was buried on top of I turned off what I was listening to and made my way up. The closer I got the more anxious I felt and I stopped several times to just cry and clench my aching heart. I finally got to a point where I could see the fresh dirt and did not see much of a disturbance and kept walking.
The earth had settled on top of him as his body is decomposing and the flowers we left were dead and dried. All I could muster was “oh sinders…” I had this plan to sit and write or meditate next to his “area” but there were swarms of little bugs attaching themselves to my arms and back. I walked around and around and shooed them feeling defeated- “well I can’t stay here, there are just too many bugs”. And I knew right away that I was doing what I always do- avoiding the pain. I just keep moving. I keep moving through life because if I stop the pain will overcome me. And as I was pacing around Sinister’s gravesite I became eerily aware of how much these little bugs were showing me. They symbolized all the pain I have experienced and every time I stopped they attached themselves to me, clinging on for dear life and would only let go and disperse once I started moving again. So I stopped moving. I sat down on some rocks, very aware that I kept a certain amount of distance from where Sinister’s body was.
I sat and I cried. I wrote, I cried, I thought of things, I laughed, I blew my nose and I just felt it. The sadness. The pain. With every part of my body; I felt the hard rock under my butt, I felt the pen in my hands, I felt the hat on my head, I felt the sun and warmth on my skin and I felt the pain in my heart. And I no longer felt any bugs landing on my skin. They eventually went away and I sat with that peace for a bit. I stood up, brushed myself off and walked over one last time to that spot of land. I felt grateful that we could offer Sinister’s body to nourish the earth below as he nourished our lives for so many years. I put my hands on my heart and then onto the ground, touching the fresh flowers I had laid there. As I walked down the steep hill carefully, I no longer felt anxious or worried but the sadness remained deep in my heart.
And that’s okay.