There are stages of grief I’ve bookmarked as schemas. Something about shock, denial, confusion, anger, and sadness. The feelings cycle like an eternal wound that will never heal. Eventually the wound might heal, but the scar is always there. It’s all different stages and different outcomes for everyone. People parse things in various ways, in their own ways, due to learned coping methods.
I’ve dealt with some deaths, some immediately close to my heart, others in the periphery. I haven’t been exposed to it as much as most, thus I only know how I render grief. There’s a sickly gut shock that permeates everything, my body, my head, and even my hair. Nothing in my system is immune to that feeling (I’m writing this feeling right now as it has invaded me). A dull ache hits the back of my neck and tension runs down my shoulders to meet the chaotic ill in my stomach. Right now I cry at the recollections, the memories, and the surprise of how sad I feel.
Someone who was once there, smiling and greeting people like they had known them all their lives, will no longer enter the room to make it brighter. That’s when the anger hits in because we as life survivors are helpless at stopping the way life goes. The cruel abruptness makes everything feel pointless. As people who are aware of our fleeting existence, isn’t this something we’ve known all along? Why are we shocked and angered now? Why am I feeling on the verge of tears for the peripheral?
The peripherals. They’re not acquaintances, but they’re not people that you hardly know. They’re like these genuinely special markers that make you reassess the person you used to be when you last saw them. For some reason, peripherals make you want to be a better person, despite you not seeing them as often. They become part of the subconscious world of feeling, knowing, and learning. They are not close to you, but the way they affected you made them so. Let’s take a famous peripheral to some, Joe Strummer, as an example:
In the documentary The Future Is Unwritten, one of his friends explains what it was like to have Strummer call in unexpectedly to say he was coming to town. His friend immediately tells his wife he’s going early to bed. She asks him why. “Because Joe’s coming to town and we could be awake for several days,” (drastically paraphrasing since I can’t find the original quote). Strummer’s friend then goes on to relate that they would spend a week just meeting new people and committing all sorts of wild antics. Many of Strummer’s friends rarely saw him, but when they did, he’d breathe new life into their worlds.
Strummer was a peripheral to some, but he made such an impact that the memories still live on to affect others.
Today some of my friends grieve for a close friend. Others, like me, grieve for a pretty amazing peripheral. I knew this person since 2003, mainly online. He’d troll my dramas and then when we actually met, I found them to be such a cordial and warm human being. They’d come in and out of real life threads throughout the years, like a surprise treat. Bear hugs. Good to see you again. Of course, you’re always here. Family.
Out of the anger there will be numbness. There will also be connecting and reconnecting with those closest to one another. There will be rehashing of stories and memories of the people we love and have loved. I’ve always known that as individuals we are part of many villages. In my head, out of my core, everyone in every one of my little villages already knows each other. Sometimes the peripherals in these villages ebb and flow in their immediacy to me, but they’re always there. There’s stability in that, in their appearance and reappearance.
I don’t know if I hate the sick first shock feeling more or the way life ridiculously goes on. The wound is so deep at first and then, after whatever time it takes, the person’s face becomes a memory or a feeling. They become a part of you and you take them, the emotion they evoke, with you forever.
Intense grief becomes a part of my everyday, the numbness subsides a bit, and maybe I find my routine again. Life goes on without someone you love.
The peripherals are powerful, and almost supernatural connectors. They march into a room with hundred watt smiles and make everyone happier to have known them. It could be in the hugs they give or bits of wisdom they impart. Sometimes it’s just the fact that they make you laugh for something you’d never do yourself. There’s a brutal honesty, bravery, and vulnerability in the peripheral.
Going out for drinks tonight with some beautiful souls.
I’m thinking of dandelion wisps today for some reason.