Sometimes something happens that hits pretty close to home, but you can’t describe why it hits close to home and you don’t really understand why it’s hitting as close to home as it is. You just know you hurt and this kind of hurt isn’t something your amazing group of support peeps can ameliorate.
Then when you start writing about it, you get all caught up in what a great word ‘ameliorate’ is and how it makes you think of ripe peaches, even though you don’t really like peaches but you do like the *idea* of peaches. Especially ripe peaches. It’s mostly because the idea of *unripe* peaches is a little sad, and the quota of sad you can handle at the moment is somewhere between “can’t read greeting cards” and “please give that dog a biscuit before its eyes drill a bigger hole into my soul”.
The thing about peaches is that they smell like death. The truth is you don’t even remember the last time you even tried eating a peach because once that smell hits you in the face it’s all over. But the IDEA of peaches is lovely. A fruit that looks like the late afternoon sun on a warm (but not too warm) summer day as you drink sangria on the patio – who wouldn’t love that kind of fruit?
Anyway, maybe you’re overanalysing the reason you got hit so close to home. Maybe you just need to accept it was a terrible thing and for many reasons you have to hold the people around you so close because they could just be gone and the last thing you’d have said to them might have been something about cleaning up dog turds. Or you might have forgotten to say ‘have a good day’ or ‘I love you’. They know, hopefully, that you love them and how much you love them, but what if the last thing you ever tell them isn’t that you love them but that you’re disappointed or – worse – what if the last thing you say to them is something you said in anger or in frustration and you can never ever apologise for it because now they’re gone?
That brings up the question of who, exactly, an apology is for. If you say you’re sorry, are you trying to make the person you wronged feel better about your having wronged them? Are you trying to make yourself feel less terrible for having been a total poop? Is it somewhere in between? What would it look like if we all treated one another, all the time, as if we would simply be gone – whoosh – the second we disappear from view? I suppose eventually it would look the same as it does now because we would have no sense of object permanence when it came to the people we love.
Every day, all over the world, millions of people die, and in many of those cases – maybe even most of those cases, their loved ones probably didn’t say what they really wanted to say, or what they wanted their loved one to know. And we’re left with these words in our mouths; words we didn’t know were stuck in there. Words that start tasting like bitter unripe peaches.
We’re left with these pits in our throats that just won’t go away, and those pits are the words we need to say but there’s no one there to hear them anymore. No one coming home when their work is done or when the season’s over. No one standing there in the doorway, leaving their shoes a mess in the entry. No one doing that thing that drives you bats, which you never thought you’d ever miss until they’re not there to do it anymore and you’re left staring at an empty place that should be so full.
And the worst of it is there’s no time to stop. Not really. We have to see those empty spaces and walk through them. We have to keep moving and growing and changing and remembering and laughing and crying because when you stop doing those things…when you stop doing those things it’s you who’ve become the empty space and nobody should ever be an empty space until they’ve gone.
So little by little you try to peer up through the leaves to see the sun, and little by little you can open your eyes to the brightness. It just takes some time.