Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Saying goodbye

My cousin Michael died yesterday. A few years ago, when I was more coy and secretive on the internet, I gave him a make-believe name and told the story about how he came to be broken; I told it like it happened to someone else and for a long time it didn’t feel like it belonged to me.

His passing wasn't unexpected. In fact, it was planned. Because of his condition he gets sick a lot. Pneumonia and other breathing related problems. I saw updates about his condition from his mom and sister, and requests for prayers. Honestly, I didn't dwell too much on it. It’s not uncommon, and he always gets better (or as good as he can get) and goes home.

This time, he doesn’t get better; he steadily declines and his doctors put him on breathing machines. For weeks, it seems… maybe more, but I haven’t been paying attention. Every day he’s worse, so the family starts saying their goodbyes. My aunt makes a plan: say goodbye, let him go.

So I dutifully include him in my prayers, but I can't think too deeply about him. I seethe with a rage that settles in my bones and I can't roust it once it's taken up residence. It is an old rage; it's familiar and comfortable. It hardens me, inside and out, like a layer of protection. And it feels safe inside that rage. It feels like the most natural thing in the world to wrap myself in it and let it burn.

But I'm trying not to let the natural things of the world take over my core anymore. That rage, more comfortable than my own skin, protects me from the good stuff too. It shields me from seeing the beauty of my family; it blocks me spiritually and denies the comfort I find in the gospel. It prevents me from caring about the hearts and souls of others.

So I smother that burning ember of hatred that loves to live inside me, and I mourn my cousin and the life he never lived. I mourn the broken hearts of my family. For 30 years I've been avoiding thinking about my cousin, but now he's dead and it's catching up to me.

Damn it all to hell.

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