Friday, June 05, 2009

Grief, face to face

When my friend Mazé died, I spent a week crying. It was one of the saddest weeks of my life.

And I noticed some things.

People had a hard time dealing with my grief. My mom kept trying to rush me off the phone. Some of my friends didn't want to be near me when I was crying. Others seemed to be having a difficult time understanding why I was so upset since I had only known Mazé for a short time.

The pain came in waves. Sometimes I would be ok. And then, suddenly it would hit me that I was never going to see him again, never play the drum with him again, and I would lose it.

This went on for a full week.

I prayed a lot. Prayed to God for Mazé. Prayed for his children and his fiance. And then I started talking to Mazé. Sometimes in english... sometimes in french. Sometimes a crazy mix of the two.

Then one day I woke up with such joy in my heart. I felt joy for having known him. I felt like I had had great luck to have met him.... so soon before his unexpected and untimely death. I felt an almost manic elation at the realization that God had given me this enormous gift. I spent a week feeling grateful. I began to believe that Mazé himself was praying for me. I knew he wouldn't want me to grieve. And I knew he wouldn't want me to feel alone in my grief. I felt the warmth of his love pouring down on me.

And then it was back. Little by little, the joy began, once again, to recede and the grief crept back in. All this week I have had moments of it. Not the racking sobs of the first week, but the dull ache of loss. The stomach churning pain of it. The moments of remembrance, followed by a sense of such sadness it takes my breath away. I know that when I travel back to Mali, the loss will be even more acute. I can already imagine what it will be like to get off the plane, knowing that there is an empty place on the drumming bench.

I am three weeks in and while it is changing, shifting, elusive, the grief doesn't seem to be going anywhere. And maybe some of my friends and family think I should be over it by now. Moving on.

But I am not.

It isn't over.

I think it is just beginning.

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