I think we can agree that 2020 has not been the start of a new decade we expected. And though the pandemic and killer bees scare me as much as the next person, what I wake up everyday wondering is who am I going to lose next. Who will I receive a phone call, text message, or Facebook alert about next? What person who has touched my life in so many ways will lose theirs this month?
It’s May, which means I wake up every morning and pray with everything in me that I will not hear about a fifth. For every month of this year I have lost someone near and dear to me; a painfully close and influential family friend, an uncle, and 2 friends I have met in adulthood that have shaped me into the therapist I am today. My heart aches everyday for those incredible human beings and in the midst’s of their passing I have been forced to learn some of the most painful and beautiful lessons.
The loss I endured in January taught me that tomorrow is truly never guaranteed. Cliché? Yes. Accurate as all hell? Yes. I remember the day as if it was happening right. I watched someone who I looked up to for nearly 20+ years of my life leave this planet within the matter of seconds. 12 unexpected seconds that changed the entire trajectory of a lot of people’s lives. 12 seconds at a time. That’s the pace I have been able to take my life since then. So be grateful for every 12 seconds you get, know that pain will pass, and hold onto those moments that make you feel most alive.
Less unexpected than January, but equally as life altering. My great uncle lived a long and fulfilling life as a dedicated firefighter, friend, brother, and husband. He was a good man and his love for his wife was inexplicitly evident during his funeral and wake. Between tears and reunions with distant family members, I was taught to find love and hold onto it. Whether it be in a friendship or with a partner, I had realized that on the day of my passing, I want to be remembered for my love, the same way that my uncle so valiantly was.
March showed me how meaningful transparency and honesty are to me. A dear friend I met the first week of my first post graduate job as a counselor. This woman was humble, yet outspoken, kind, yet tough as nails. She was the type of person whose respect you had to earn simply by being authentic. She made me laugh and was hilariously kind and blunt towards our patients. In the wakes of her passing, not even one of her co-workers knew how serious her heath concerns had gotten. The text messages we all received knocked the wind out of us, but simultaneously did not shock us in the least. She was a reserved woman, modest in her passing wishes, and simply asked us all to celebrate her life by spending time with the ones we love. And so even in this time of Covid, I make it a priority to spend time (on and offline) with my loved ones.
I was on a walk with a friend on our lunch break when my phone alerted me to a Facebook message. All it said was “Hey, did you hear about…?” I instantly knew another soul had been taken from my life. This time it was a friend, colleague, and mentor all wrapped into one kind and endlessly selfless package. We had been through 10 grueling months of an internship together and simply put, this was the woman you would want as a therapist. She valued family, hard work, compassion, and wit- all of which she aced. As I continue to mourn her loss, I am grateful to have known and learned from her. Let others teach you, be open to learning, and fight through the growing pains. Because with each session I have walked into since her passing, I feel her with me, reminding me to a more kind, patient, and passionate therapist.
I know I am not the only one who has suffered loss, so I hope by sharing mine, you feel a little less alone. A little less scared. And possibly a bit more at ease knowing that through loss and pain, there can still be the most brilliant of all light and life.