I do have to say, though… death brings a thickness to the air… a fog. It’s as if someone placed a semi-thick sheet of plastic over your body that acts as a veil as you walk through your day, shielding you from fully being a part of the world but not completely blinding or secluding you. It’s more like a light barrier which just requires much more focus and attention from you in order to function at basic levels, as your sight, hearing, smell, and coordination have all been compromised. You walk through the grocery store and the sounds you hear are suddenly a bit muffled. Someone says hello and it takes you a moment to realize they were addressing you, much less hear what they said, because that plastic sheet is just so separating. The grocery store clerk asks how you are and suddenly that plastic sheet becomes tighter and you think of how almost inconsiderate that was, as if they should know what you’re going through. After all, you feel like it’s practically written all over your face…
Don’t they know what your life entails at the moment?
Don’t they understand the pain you’re in?
Don’t they get that your world has just fallen apart right in front of your?
How anybody can not see the shattered pieces all around you is beyond you, but you don’t even quite care. All you truly care about doing is getting back to whatever shell makes you feel safe- home, office, park, beach, car- and spending all the rest of your days curled up there, staring into the abyss, just trying to gasp for a fresh breath that seems to never come, because someone you love is suddenly no longer a part of this world… and you just can’t… process.
It’s definitely a process.
And it’s strange.
Soon you begin to realize that maybe not everyone is being inconsiderate… that maybe, just maybe, they truly can’t feel your pain. That pain that you think is so explosive it could take out at least a city radius around you might actually just be yours and your alone to feel.
So you begin to soften.
You remain tucked under your plastic sheet, but you begin to soften your frustration with the outside world for not seeing it and treading more carefully around it’s delicate layer. Someone begins to speak to you and you think, maybe this is where the opportunity lies for me to communicate through this thick layer… maybe I should go for it.
And so you do.
And you know what? It’s not so bad. Sure, it was difficult, And it might have even been a little bit painful. But it was nowhere near what you were anticipating, and ironically enough, there was a moment or two of completely unexpected actual relief. Something about opening up to the outside world made you feel like you were somewhat of a part of it again, despite the heavy sheet that still seems to be remaining in place over you.
Time goes on and that sheet begins to thin out. Fresh air breezes in from time to time when you decide to let go of your grasp of its veil, which you do reluctantly because something about its protective layer has become surprisingly comforting. While you don’t quite feel like you’re functioning “normally” as a part of the world again, something about the new you feels like it’s okay. You start to realize that you may never not have this plastic sheet draping over you again, at least not entirely and at least not permanently, but that the thin layer it has become is… doable. You can bear it.
And so you try.
And the thinner the sheet becomes with time, the easier it is to see through it and notice that there are others who have plastic sheets draped over them too. Maybe they were there all long and you simply never took notice before, or maybe they are entirely new sheets, it doesn’t quite matter. Because anyone wearing a plastic veil is someone who’s lost, and no matter where they are on their journey, that is pain that you can relate to, and your heart reaches out to hug. Some are thicker than others, but what’s beautiful is that each of these people can relate to one another, simply due to the existence of these veils. And yours, having thinned out quite a bit, becomes a source of comfort for those just beginning their journey of adjusting with this new addition to their existence. The thin layer of your veil as well as your ability to survive, and even possibly thrive, with its existence becomes a light at the end of their tunnel. It gives them hope, which give your purpose.
And suddenly, you realize, your pain has meaning. And while you may always wish that this plastic veil did not have to exist, you’re grateful for the opportunity that its existence has given you to lend a helping hand to others who have been in your shoes. Suddenly, you find the rainbow in the storm.
And you thank your late loved one for it, because it’s them, and it’s beautiful.