I allowed myself the space to cry today. I have to, the unspoken pain inside is too much. I’ve got my ballad rock on the player, cranked up, remembering all the things that have passed before me.

One of the major experiences for me, that I don’t talk about much, is the one that is most painful for me. No matter how much I think about it, the pain doesn’t get any easier to overcome. It was the experience that let me know what I was, it made me run away and shut down. I can remember ignoring it for years, figuring if it I didn’t pay it any attention, it would go away. But it didn’t.

When I went away to college, I moved back home. Back up to Illinois, I had to face everything. It was also the point where my family finally reconnected, and suddenly we all knew each other again. Standing in a cemetary, in the middle of corn fields off a dirt road, surrounded by the farming community I grew up in. Staring face first at the gravestone that marked the last place the first person I ever loved, existed. Memories washing over me, the sight of him being hit by the car, the lights flashing, machines beeping loudly, people talking in hushed voices, wailing sirens breaking the stillness of that night. Waking up early on a Saturday, for something other than cartoons. The sterile smell of the hospital, people just staring because they didn’t know what to say. I knew. He was gone. My protector, my love, the brother I wish was mine was gone from me.

My world crashed that day. It took me 10 years to go back there. Every year I was there, I left a rose on February 23rd. I still don’t think I’ve fully comes to terms with that day. It’s also why I hold tight to what I have, enjoy the love I feel today, in hopes that I will still have it tomorrow, because one blink can take it away. Hard lesson to learn at 8, but nothing is permanent. Pushing away, because if I feel too much, it will hurt more when it’s gone. But pulling in tight, because the pain is all I can feel.

Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing, nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or a valley. For fear will rob him of all if he gives too much.
Alan Patton, Cry, the Beloved Country


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