It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything. There’s been a lot of grieving that I’ve been trying to process so writing fell by the wayside. It wasn’t until I watched the Glee memorial episode for Cory Monteith aka Finn Hudson, that I felt the urge to write.
I’ll preface this by saying I am a Gleek, diehard fan from the beginning. I watched the show religiously when it first aired and I’m sure I’m on my 5th or 6th binging of the show on Netflix.
Every time I get to this episode, I cry because I was rooting for Finn on the show and Cory in real life (he suffered from drug addiction which led to his death). His death hurt the actors and audience. In the show, they never say how Finn dies but it seems like the writers kept it pretty true to life. The most painful thing in the episode is the acting. All the tears shed were real, especially those from Lea Michele who was Cory’s love interest on and off camera.
But this time around, I found myself crying for a different reason during the episode. This time, I was crying during moments where I saw myself in each character as they navigated a different stage of grief.
It’s no secret, I’ve lost a lot of people in the last 7 or 8 years. Some deaths I don’t think I’ll ever stop grieving. But in the last two months I’ve been to three funerals; one being a double whammy because two people were from the same family died within 2 days of each other.
I talked to my therapist about it and she asked how I was handling all of that on top of dealing with the traumatic experience of being on the phone with my cousin as she crashed her car last month. (She’s fine. Could have been a lot worse. She was able to walk across the stage to receive her degree in Psychology about 3 weeks after her accident!)
I honestly didn’t have an answer for my therapist although I wanted to give her one so badly. All I could think was that I was reliving the end of junior year/beginning of senior year in HS where I lost my great grandmother, uncle, cousin and two great great aunts all in the span of 7 months. It wrecked havoc on my family and my psyche. I was a mess at that time and it led to a lot of horrible decisions. I didn’t want that to happen again.
But anyway back to the Glee connection. I truly saw myself in some of the characters and how they grieved Finn in ways that I initially grieved some of the deaths I’ve experienced.
For example, Santana is the mean, bitchy character but she used comedy to deflect from showing her pain. I am the queen of deflection. It’s how I avoid any emotions I refuse to deal with. Santana also had a major blow out with the old cheer coach that got pretty physical. Now, I’ve never fought anyone as a coping mechanism but when my little sister Maia died there was so much rage. She was only 19 when she died from colon cancer. I was furious with God. I’m still mad. Although the anger has subsided a bit, it's a feeling I will never forget.
I also saw part of my grieving of Maia in Coach Sue’s (Jane Lynch) scene. Santana eventually goes to apologize to Sue for pushing her and Sue is upset because she thinks Finn died thinking she hated him. Santana tries to console her by saying it's a lesson about saying how you feel when people are alive. Sue ain’t tryna hear it. I felt that. When Maia was sick, I was a sophomore at Wayne State. She was in a hospital literally 5 minutes away. Did I visit her? Not once. How often did I text or call? I can count it on one hand. In her darkest moments, I wasn’t the best big sister/mentor. I didn’t hold her hand and tell her how much I loved her. It will always be my biggest regret in life. People tried to tell me she knew that I loved her but it will never change the guilt I feel about it.
Another grief moment I felt during the episode was when Rachel was describing how vivid her memories of Finn were. I have a horrible memory but for some reason my great grandmother Queen is engraved into my brain. I still have dreams where I wake up in her bed and the memory of her room is so real. If I’m sitting by a pair of blinds and the sun peaks in, it immediately feels like I’m back in her room. I can literally close my eyes and imagine her house and where everything is, how it smelled; how she smelled. And the scariest yet most soothing part, if I’m having an anxiety attack, I can only calm down by imagining her touch. Sometimes the memory of her hug is so strong that I can feel her on me. I don't know why my memories of her are so strong but any time I need the world to slow down, that is my happy place.
At the end of the episode, Mr. Schuester (the Glee club teacher) finally has his breakdown moment. He had been so busy trying to stay strong for his students and helping them grieve that he didn’t have time to process his own emotions. That was me when my cousin Robby died early this month. Robby was married to my cousin Keisha. They were so in love and it showed whether they were together or not. Rob died in a car crashing using his body as a shield for their son. Shane walked away from a four car accident practically untouched. When we got the news, my mom and sister broke down. Me? I made sure the house was in order, kept my nephew entertained, washed my hair, even cooked dinner. All without a tear. It wasn’t until I was alone, in the bathroom, that I just broke and all types of feelings started to flow. Pain from the last few months of unresolved grief. Unresolved grief from years ago even decided to show up. So much had happened that I never took the time to process and it all hit me at once.
Grieving is tough especially since I hate any emotion that isn’t happiness. But that episode showed me that I have to get it out.
Somewhere in the Bible, I think it says grief is the price we pay for love (don’t quote me). Well, my life must have been bursting at the seams with love because there are just some things I’ll never stop grieving.
Watching that episode really made me think about all the heartache I have experienced in the last few years and how it has been sort of a constant in my life. Through all this pain, I amazed that I still have the willingness to be open to love, even if I don't show it. I know my heart may be a little black every now and then but I know with each day, the grief subsides and I am able to push the heartache away to welcome love back into my life.