I have a cousin that died as an infant. She is rarely ever discussed. She had health problems and some mental problems. If she had lived, she would have turned 40 this year. I had an aunt who committed suicide before I was born. She was hardly ever discussed and if so, it was something that was mentioned when someone saw an older photo of her.
Why do we do this? Or more importantly, why did our elders do this?
Maybe it’s because that’s how they were conditioned and raised. I think the best example of the way thinks were handled can be explained in The Wild Bunch, when the young Angel (Jaime Sanchez) is upset over the murder of his father. William Holden playing Pike, the leader of the cowboys, sternly points at him and says that he either learns to live with it or he can leave the gang. It’s bascially how a lot of people handled things. Look at The Great Santini, where the mother played by Blythe Danner tells them they’re not going to cry in public for their father.
In other words, you have to act a certain way around others so as not to ruin their day and not to look weak. It sucks, but that’s our society still because so many people were told by their parents (and grandparents), “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.” Some people haven’t broken the cycle, they just expect their children and their spouses/partners not to be emotional.
Even worse, we’ve turned to religion, mainly Christianity as a means to cope. But it’s a coping mechanism that is based on what they tell you. All trauma, grief and mourn can very easily wiped away with some love of God. The accusations that most people hurting don’t have a good Christian faith and need spiritual enlightment is probably the most offensive. And those that have had trauma or grief related to religion, mainly Christianity, don’t need the response, “God is the only answer you need.”
Hollywood gets it wrong. You don’t strip off your clothes and walk through a public place like a zombie. You don’t pulls a Citizen Kane and trash a room if you’re angry. You’re going to have to clean it up later. You do cry and break down. But sometimes you’re too sad and shocked to cry. It doesn’t always hit at the funeral. It could’ve been something else. You hear stories of people who were considered dead but they are discovered alive or someone made a wrong indetification.
And there’s no time limit for how long you should grieve or mourn, even if it’s for the rest of your life. You expect your grandparents, your aunts and uncles and even your parents to die before you do. I’m 44. My parents and aunts are in their 70s. An uncle is 80. It’s only a matter of time. But what you don’t expect is a friend and someone you loved who still had their whole life ahead of them.
What makes me so angry is that she had survived an abusive marriage and possibly another one that ended before it could’ve gotten worse. But in between, some scumbag had attacked her on Oct. 12, 2016. I had suspicions husband No. 2 (because he’s a piece of shit) may have been behind it since she had “escaped” from him over a year earlier. She managed to scream loud and kick the attacker in the groin with her stiletto heels. He vomited all over her car but got away as people responded.
When she posted it on Facebook, I thought she was posted for someone else. I had just finished supper and was eating fudge ripple ice cream and watching Swamp Thing. I got sick to my stomach when I realized she was talking of herself. And I mentioned something to my ex, Beverly, but I don’t know if it registered. I went to put the ice cream up because I was no longer hungry and I didn’t know how to react.
Everyone was commented but I didn’t know what to say. What do you say? I wanted to kill the fucking guy. And that’s no hyperbole. I wanted him dead. I still do. I wanted to throw it all away to take a baseball bat and break some bones of someone I had never met nor probably will never see. Now, that she’s gone, I don’t see the police really stepping up to take on a cold case like this.
For a while everything changed in me. I shut down for a while and a lot of other things happened. Donald Trump got elected and I just got so fucking upset at the world, I didn’t care anymore. I didn’t want to watch anything where women were harmed. I watched the Fargo show and there this scene where Mary Elizabeth Winstead played a character who reminded me of her and she gets beaten and I had a panic attack.
Beverly had some health problems over the next couple of years and I tried to carry on. It didn’t help having all this happen at once. I had no one to talk to. Kerry met another guy and she looked happy so maybe he was going to be the one. They got married and she moved temporarily to Calhoun, Ga., where we went to school and had the whole world ahead of both of us. I wanted to return just to visit and kicked myself for not. The problem was Bev’s health was not conditional for traveling. We had some other things happening.
Then, one day in the Fall of 2018, she posted a photo of herself with a black eye. My first instinct was that the third husband wasn’t the charm. She later said she had a seizure and fell face first and some other pictures were worst. But I’m still left to worry what really happened. She said he left after an argument. But she moved to Florida shortly after. She sold the house in Calhoun, packed all up with help. She attended grief counseling in Florida.
She told me about husband No. 2 and that while she was on the road from Arizona back to Georgia, she was passing through Oklahoma and wanted to see me. But while on the road, her eldest furbaby got ill and they stopped at a vet hospital in Oklahoma. She wanted to see me but I understand why she didn’t. This was when someone we knew had been arrested and charged fort two murders of women he knew. His mother had helped her get a job, so she was connected to the family. That trauma and grief on top of everything that had happened hurt her, I know.
But I always had my feelings that something might have happened when she was married to the third husband in Calhoun that she didn’t want to tell me. She didn’t want to tell anyone. Maybe I was wrong about that. Part of me wonders about what really happened. Sometimes, it’s easier to tell the person a lie than the truth. We call then “white lies.”
Going back to 2016, during July, Beverly had a minor stroke or TIA (transient ischemic attack). But whatever it was, the hospital couldn’t find it. She wasn’t acting right one day. I called 911 and first responders and the ambulance were called. They took her to the hospital in Tulsa. I grabbed everything and followed. I was about 15 minutes on the road when my phone rang and I thought the worst.
The paramedics were calling to tell me that she crashed and they couldn’t revive her, I thought. I pulled over to the side of the road and answered it. They told me that the one Tulsa hospital was deterring all patients to another one, so I went there, a little relieved. But what if Beverly had died that day, maybe I would have eventually had together with Kerry. Maybe the attack wouldn’t have happened.
Everything might have been different. I would’ve lost Bev, but I would still have Kerry maybe. I don’t know. I had nearly lost both of the women I ever truly loved within a three-months time frame. That’s something you don’t “just learn to live with.” It eats at you. It keeps you up in the middle of the night. You wonder of the alternatives.
There’s an old story of an elderly Chinese farmer who horse runs away. People tell him how sorry they are. He says, “I can’t say if it’s good or bad.” Two days later, the horse returns with two other horses. The neighbors say that he now has three horses. He says, “I can’t say if it’s good or bad.” The following day, the farmer’s son, who’s in his early 20s, tries to break the horse by riding it. It bucks him off and he breaks his arm and a leg. People say how sorry they are. The farmer just replies, “I can’t say if it’s good or bad.”
Three days later, there’s a knock at the door. A military officer has come saying the Chinese Army is requiring all young able-bodied men to report for services. He takes one look at the farmer’s son and says he’ll have to report back that he’s severely injured. He thanks the farmer for his time and wishes his son a recovery but the son is never able to walk without a severe limp the rest of his life. Some time later, all young people recruited in the village and were all killed in a battle with others from neighboring villages.
You never know what good or bad things will come out of a situation. The hardest part is realizing that maybe it wasn’t meant for Kerry and I. We had so much time together in school but never dated. It wasn’t the best of times for either one of us. Covid happened right after we reconnected and became serious. It still angers me that without Covid, Trump would’ve likely been re-elected. It angers me the men who were awful to her will probably never see anything they did as wrong.
What really angers me is now I no one to talk to, because we don’t normalize this thing. My parents don’t ask. People on my social media don’t ask. They just reassure me I’m going to get through it. But I know I will get through it. I’m just tired of bottling things up and getting through them. People don’t understand when you’re alone, you’re alone.
We’re just expected to retreat into your grief and not make a spectacle of ourselves. This isn’t helping anyone. It hurts more this way.
What do you think? Please comment.