Weird things trigger periods of sadness in me. Maybe they aren’t weird but they sure feel like it in the moment. Random things will happen and I can feel my heart almost catch in my throat as I am reminded in a new way that Russell is gone. My stomach tightens, my voice catches in my throat and my heart feels like it is weeping. And then I step back, take a deep breathe and ponder what is going on. You see I am almost constantly curious about what triggers a wave of emotion moving through me. And I want to figure it out.
Take for instance the news I just heard a few minutes ago that Prince, the song writer and artist, has died. I find it weird that the news of his death has me thinking strongly of Russell, missing him more vividly than I was before I heard the news. It’s as if hearing of Prince’s death somehow opened a door to remembering what the shock was like right after Russell died. The thoughts of “What? He was so young? How can this be?” are very similar. The suddenness and unanswered questions are also similar.
But the connection I had to the two of them is obviously vastly different. I intimately knew Russell and had an entire life twined up with his. Almost everywhere I go there are memories of being there with him. Memory after memory overlaps with my daily life in ways that makes me constantly aware of his absence and also the ways I still feel his presence in the ways he is remembered by so many people.
I have none of those things with Prince. I loved his music and have lots of memories, especially of high school and college, that his music is a part of. I admired him as an artist and as a person who was willing to be thoroughly unique and authentic. But he isn’t someone I knew. Yet his death is still shocking to me and I find myself wanting to curl in upon myself and just weep.
I think a large part of it is that in times like this – Prince dying, Bowie dying, this year’s political happenings or any big news from around the world – I want to call Russell and ask “Did you hear?”, knowing he probably hasn’t heard yet as he tended to not be on social media or listen to the radio as much as I do. I want to hear his take on things, share memories and stories, and simply talk about what has happened. Then, I realize that I can’t call him which either hits me like a soft nudge or a ton of bricks falling upon me as I remember again I can’t talk with him.
This experience of wanting to talk with him and then realizing I can’t actually happens quite frequently. At least once a day there is something I want to tell him and I will start to text or call before I realize that won’t work. I’ve started either writing these things down in my journal or finding someone else to call or text in those moments. For the most part it is becoming just a part of my new normal and I am able to move through these moments with ease.
It’s in shocking events like today that I temporarily get knocked off of my balance beam and then it takes me awhile to get rebalanced. Now awhile these days usually means a few hours rather than the days or weeks it was taking me over the winter so I feel great about that. It no longer feels like falling or stepping off my balance beam means that I will then go crashing down into the abyss.
So I think I will crank up the music, smile at the memories, and just breathe to “get through this thing called life.”