( Felt led to write this today, please note there are mentions of death and brief allusions to multiple forms suicide loss. )
You don’t know where you are. You can’t see where you’re going.
There are people, towering above you murmuring… whispering, hushing.
You feel yourself being touched, pushed, and shoved from one uncomfortable room to the next.
I remember being held and crying… there was so much crying.
On the bed, in the car, on the plane, another bed, in the bathroom.
And then all the tears ran out. Dried up.
Disintegrated along with the death.
Then the discussion of whether you should attend happens.
She shouldn’t go.
She should go.
She is a child.
She has a right.
It could scar her.
It could scare her.
It could make her resent us.
(I wondered will I be asked. Or will I continue to be ignored?)
Death is a terrible foe. It takes without mercy, but the death of a parent as a child is all the more unmerciful.
It is a blanket of camouflage as the adults do all they can to shelter you from a reality you will never not know.
It is a flurry of hugs and conversations of how you’ve grown, shoved into pathetic looks of sympathy and sorry.
It is a state of fear you cannot shake because no one will simply be honest and tell you they are also in pain.
This was only the beginning.
Through the years, I’ve held more hands, phone calls, and space than my soul could ever untangle in the hopes of quantifying them.
I have lost and lost and lost while finding myself in a workspace that, to many, is nothing more.
Imagine yourself sitting in the meeting, swirling in the pain and resilience of loss and overcoming.
Imagine listening to others talk cavalierly about your father, friend, and even yourself.
Imagine being unable to share openly because you will be seen as emotional, unprofessional, or less than.
Imagine walking out of that room, holding your heart in your hands, and shoving it back into your chest as though it hadn’t just been wrenched forcefully from you.
This 9 to 5 of mine is not for the faint of heart.
It is not for those who lead with their souls.
It is not for those who can stomach the numbers and nothing more.
And yet, within it….
…are those who, like me, have stubbornly determined we will shift this culture.
There are those who have been wielded on panels and stages as trophies of inclusion.
There are those who have stood silent, knowing we would be heard… one day.
This is for YOU:
You, the person who has been withheld, – when all you needed was to be held.
You, the person who has championed, – when you barely had the presence to cheer for yourself.
You, the one who has seen possibility, – despite the unimaginable blinding pain you’ve felt.
You, the one who never clocks out because this is not work.
It is the way forward. It is your way. It is you.
I am here, with you.
Learning from you. Leading with you. Loving you, when the work does not.
We are in this together, you and I.