*Emotional Blog for me, I apologize in advance for the ramble*
“Life asked death, why do people love me but hate you? Death replied, it’s simple, you’re a beautiful lie and I’m a painful truth.”
As I walked out of work tonight I took a second to look around. The crisp cool air hit my face, the sound of the squad cars running, a random neighborhood dog barking and both flags(American and Thin Blue Line) gently moving with the little breeze. All felt calm, still and I was able to take a deep breath. Maybe I’m alone in this but sometimes the air gets heavy and it gets hard to breath for no reason. It wasn’t a bad shift at work, although its been a rough week for the county. As I opened my eyes after taking a few breaths, I noticed the large boulder that now sits at the entrance of the Sheriffs Office. I walked to my vehicle while I kept my eye on that reminder of last year. As I drove off, I mentally said the prayers I say before I drive each time, thanking God for another day and for prayers for a safe drive home. It’s the same thing I’ve done day after day for the last year. Every time I drive, it’s sort of like a car concert but amped up. Sometimes it’s Christina and some times it’s Salt n Pepa(I can rap Shoop like I was born to), other times it’s sappy country songs(no surprise there). I had spotify playing in the background as I’m deep in thought driving home. A lot has been on my mind lately, specifically grief. It’s something we all have in common but we all suffer different ways. I hate to use that word, suffer, it sounds so painful but I’ve yet to experience grief that hasn’t been painful. As I got about halfway home a song came across my Spotify that caught my attention, Lauren Alaina- The Other Side. I was zoned out thinking about aliens and wondering if chickens have knees, you know the normal things people think about as they drive home. As the song hit the chorus it caught my attention, so I restarted the song and listened all over again. Instantly my thoughts turned to my best buddy, my uncle Kent.
Kenton “Mouse” Priebe passed away January 29, 2018. Most reading this won’t know who he is but I will give you a quick run down on him. He was my godfather, referred to as my uncle Kent, the man on the motorcycle and my best buddy. When his house caught on fire back in the late 90’s, he gifted me with the mold of his dentures that were burnt in the fire(like the mold was charred), because it’s a gift no one else could ever give(he thought it was hilarious). He had me holding snakes that were bigger than me by the age of 5, ironically now I’m terrified of snakes even though I used to cuddle them. He and his wife, my aunt Chris, were there for every important day of my life until his wife passed in 2015(that is another blog that’ll come, when I’m ready). After his wife died he continued to do the things my aunt should have been here for, meeting my first child, getting me ready for my wedding and watching me walk down the aisle, to meeting my twins. He was there for it all, even when he was fighting cancer. He was a quiet man, gentle but loving. Long haired, ponytail and durag, mostly seen on the back of his Harley, he was there for it all. He never told me he had cancer, until he was sitting in a hospital bed after suffering a seizure. That’s when I got the call he was in the hospital and his memory was slipping. I went to visit him, I was pregnant with the twins, I walked in terrified he wouldn’t recognize me since he hadn’t recognized anyone else, but he knew who I was and instantly smiled. He hugged me and I sat with him and we talked like all was well. He recovered but his memory wasn’t the best. Unfortunately it wasn’t long before the cancer came back with a vengeance. The week he died he was on hospice care and I again was given the warning he might not remember me. I walked in with my mom and the room was filled with his family members. He was resting, looking around, as soon as he saw me we locked eyes and he smiled. I knew then that he knew me. I walked up to him and said “hey old man, time to wake up and talk to me”. I grabbed his hand and he squeezed and tried talking. We couldn’t understand him but he was trying. We spent a while together and he would continuously squeeze my hand while looking at me. His eyes spoke for him, he was glad I was there. The whole room was silent besides my sniffles from softly crying. Down the hallway we could hear an alarm dinging and the nurses talking in the hallway. All was still, calm and silent, the air heavy and it was hard to breath, just like today. As I left that day, knowing very well that could be the last time I saw my best buddy alive, I hugged him so tight. The cancer had taken a toll on him, he was so thin, I could feel every bone in his back as I wrapped my arms around him. He held on to me, squeezing me because he too knew, that that might be the last time he saw me. That moment I felt helpless, nothing I could do could keep him and nothing anyone could do could keep my best friend here. I would soon learn how to live without him, continue my milestones without my right hand man there to hold my hand. I had to live with the lessons he instilled in me and learn to exist in a world that he wasn’t in. He kissed my cheek and I kissed that big forehead where his receding hairline was. I looked at him and said over and over “I love you”, he hadn’t spoke clear words in days but he said to me “I love you”, everyone stared as someone gasped, because it was clear as day. Those were the last words he ever spoke, I love you, and they were to me. I cried the whole way home and then some. We visited a few more times the next few days before he passed, he was in a deep sleep. A family member text me to tell me he wasn’t doing well and I told her I was on my way. As I got to the end of my driveway I looked at my phone and it was my aunt Chris’s sister calling and I knew. I took a deep breath as I looked at the sun starting to set and I just knew… He was Heaven bound on a Harley. It was an hour drive from my house him, the funeral home waited until I got there to say my last goodbyes. As I walked into the building the air was warm, heavy, with a stale smell. I felt like I was walking so slow I was going backwards. I walked into his room and hugged family. I didn’t cry, I couldn’t. I don’t know if it was shock that it happened or the numbness of the grief setting in, but I held it together for the next few hours as we sat with him telling stories and listening to music. He was a simple man, with simple wishes. We celebrated his life on his birthday in March, it was great to see faces I hadn’t seen in years and to meet those I had only heard of.
Tonight the grief of losing him got the best of me. I’ve cried this whole time writing this through my tears(Nick thinks I’m a basket case because I’m crying, he’s not wrong though). It’s not the only loss I’ve been grieving, losing a good friend has taken it’s toll. The truth about grief? No, it doesn’t get better. Nothing about it gets better, you get used to it. You feel the stinging pain, the shock, the yearning to cry for your friend and their loved ones. You deal with it and learn to function when you don’t know how to. It’s not a wound you can just slap a band-aid on and expect it to heal. Some say to face your trauma, loss, and that’s how you move on. Nope, hasn’t worked in my experience. The truth is, there is no answer, no magic spell to take that pain away. Learning to live in a world without someone you couldn’t think of living without, makes you strong. You don’t have a choice but to be strong. It makes you courageous, it makes you bold. Sometimes it’s a song that hits you and suddenly nothing can stop the tears, maybe it’s a smell that triggers your grief and you can’t explain why you feel crushed. Many times I’ve sat in my car trying to pull myself together before going into work or home, because grief strikes at any time and that is okay. It’s okay to break down, it’s okay to struggle. It’s okay to ask for help, it’s okay to vent. We all grieve. We all grieve differently. And to be honest, it’s okay if breathing is the only thing you did today. That too, can be a huge accomplishment especially when you feel like you’re drowning. Grieve for a little while, grieve for a long time or grieve forever, there is no time limit. Nothing is the same after the loss, you have to make a “new normal”, and it’s not fair. Life isn’t fair. If there is anything death has taught me, it’s life is short, unpredictable and it’s those who deserve to live forever who get taken too soon. It’s taught me to take the pictures even if someone hates pictures, to save the messages, keep the memories alive. It’s taught me to love even when someone isn’t lovable, to forgive those who don’t deserve it, to move forward when I want to stand still or crawl in a hole. Baby steps are still steps forward. It’s taught me breaking down is okay, no matter how much time has passed. Overuse I love you. Live life, stop just existing. Moral of my ramble, Grief, does not get better…