Stages of Grief
I never knew what it was like to lose a close friend of mine. I have lost people I knew from a far but never a friend this close. Normally, as humans we associate death with sickness. When someone is sick you expect death to come around the corner. Although, it is still very hard to accept, it does not catch you by suprise. Unfortunately, that was not by friends case.
Rick Simpson was 42 years old, a young stud. He was gay, smoked his cigarettes, asthmatic, drunk coke soda every day, didn't exercise, but loved his life. He was the ficklest person I knew with the most infectious laugh. He went from hot to cold in a matter of minutes. I could talk to him about anything and he made a perfect shopping partner. He was like the girlfriend I never had. Zero drama with all the female elements sowed into a guy. He was so humble and so down to earth. He was the person who you'd never forget once you met him.
I knew Rick for about a decade. We met at my first real adult job. We instantly clicked as friends. I learned from him how to always stand up for myself and to never be afraid to go after what I wanted. Although, he didn't think much about his actions before making a decision, I supported every idea. That is what friends do, right?
I had every intention on seeing Rick and catching up with the gang before he passed. I spoke to Rick the day before his passing and was able to tell him how much I loved him. He sent out messages to all the friends and family he cared about, it was just sad we didn't know he was saying goodbye. He is the walking definition of the cliche "One day you're here and the next you're not." My friend wasn't sick. He would consistently go to the doctor for checkups. All his blood work would come back normal. He didn't suffer from cancer. He didn't have some lung disease even though he smoked and was an asthmatic. According to every blood work result he was perfectly healthy. It is just so ironic that he was rushed to the hospital because he had heavy breathing and within a few hours he was gone. The hospital managed to stabilize his vitals after inserting a breathing tube. Everyone was sure he was going to make it and just within minutes, kidneys fail and the heart follows.
Until this day his death is a mystery. All that is known is that he had a very large amount of white blood cells in his blood work. Which usually means he had some sort of infection. Along with those results, he had large potassium and acidic rating in his blood. Just when they were about to get ready to perform a dialysis procedure he was gone.
It was like a whirlwind for his husband. A rollercoaster ride that you think will reach the destination smoothly but falls of the rails. I instantly felt Stephen's pain. I lost my father the same year I had my son. I cannot imagine what I would do with myself if I didn't have to attend to my son.
So how do you grieve for someone you are not sure how they died? How do you find faith in believing in Science and in doctors when they can't explain a perfectly healthy person dying so suddenly? How can you trust medicine if there are no concrete answers?
Grieving is something very hard to deal with alone. First, you feel guilt. You think about every scenario and replay images in your mind. You blame yourself for not reacting sooner. As if we even know death when it stares us in the face.
Second, you feel periods of sadness. You are still in denial from the suspense of losing someone you didn't expect to lose. I mean even when you know the outcome is death, no one can prepare you for the actual day of death. No one can teach you how to grieve for someone.
Third, you feel numb. As if you're some cloud and you just refuse to believe that person will no longer be around in physical form. In this stage you can remain for a short or long time. It depends on the person and how they decide to grieve.
Fourth, this immense sadness takes hold. You find yourself in an upside world. Nothing seems the same. You can't sleep, you can't eat, you just simply can't find a happy place. You try to recover all the pictures you can. You play videos. You call their phones to listen to their voicemail just to hear their voice one last time.
Fifth, acceptance finally seeps in. You find yourself praying to them. You find yourself doing things in their honor to keep their memory alive. You finally learn to move on without them. Not because you stopped loving them but because you realize they would want you to move on.
So I am not saying goodbye to my good friend. I am saying see you later. One day my day will come and I hope to see him on the other side. I hope that I can still make him a proud friend from heaven. To Rick this poem is in your memory:
It begins with a bows kiss on violin chords,
A sound of harmony,
Fibers of symphony,
form flesh and bone.
The Monarchs gather,
collecting pollen, coaxing radiance in human form.
Fluttering, fluttering light in peaceful adore.
Life begins in dances,
A metamorphosis of dusk and dawn.
A wavering that axioms love,
In simple touches, palms warm.
A gaze of a mother's hope,
A trophy of a father's earth,
The monarchs gather,
Fluttering, fluttering light in peaceful galore.
A light dims,
Changes it's form.
A goodbye chokes a flat note on this last song.
Photographs and videos form history.
Carrying waves that resemble the last roar
Today the monarchs gather,
Fluttering, fluttering this gentle soul to his first hello.
A time of storms,
A time of I'm not sure.
A harness of good-byes.
A bouquet of farewells.
This is the gathering of monarchs to celebrate Rick Simpson's
flutters, flutters, flutters light now,
that he is gone.
- The last symphony of Rick Simpson's song
(Poem can be found in Rick Simpson's arbitrary card. May he rest in peace.)