How has death touched your life, and what lasting impact has it had?
I've been lucky enough that no one who I was very intimate with has died. But the deaths that I have experienced all touched me with this singular feeling: a wish that I had reached out more while they were still here.
Other than relatives who I didn't have any real connection to (biological grandparents), my first loss from death was in March 2012, when Carol died. I knew Carol from the six months I lived at Serendipity, when we often attended the same family dinner. We hadn't been close then or been in touch after I left Serendipity, but Carol had made me feel included and cared about and as a proxy parental figure that meant a lot. I felt sad but grateful to have had the short time to know Carol.
My first lose of a close connection to death was someone I met through livejournal, Laura (musicandmisery). Laura died April 2, 2013, and I found out through facebook, which I was grateful for because there was no way for me to learn about it through livejournal and the idea of just never knowing is horrific. It was a shock to me because Laura was so young and we hadn't been in good contact for a year, so I didn't know what was going on (I think health problems?). Laura's sister friended me on facebook afterwards and we sort of vaguely interact here and there -- I think for both of us it's a kind of connection to Laura.
I had had Laura on my short list of people to meet, but I never had anyone to go with nor the guts to try and plan a trip to New York alone -- and even if I had managed that I wouldn't have had the money before it was too late. I still ache over that missed opportunity because Laura was really special to me. I can't explain why mostly because my memory is terrible, but it feels like we just felt the world in the same way. We both are the kind of person to cry at human kindness, even between two people we don't know and can't really relate to, and twice as much between other animals. And that's not something I have often had in common with people. I think if we had lived near each other we would have spent lots of time together.
We also have the same birthday, so every time our birthday comes around I think of Laura. And there was this mega-adorable little kid on MasterChef Jr season 5 who reminded me SO MUCH of Laura in smile and spirit that I cried. A quote from that kid: “You gotta stay focused, you gotta stay true to yourself and you gotta cook your heart out!”
Then in February 2016, there was Vanessa, someone I met in college who I felt admiration for and wanted to be friends with, but I never got up the courage to really express that, and then she died. I learned this when I went to her facebook with the goal of reaching out and saw the wall filled with "gone too soon" messages. I felt really overwhelmed with "why didn't I reach out sooner" then. Vanessa was also very young, in her early 20s still I think.
Then March 27, 2017, Topaz' Papaw died. (his funeral was actually on the same date that Laura died) He had lived a full life and was in failing health so it wasn't a surprise but he was someone I felt a deep and intuitive connection with and I felt so sad that I had never tried to connect on more than a friendly-stranger level. Shortly after I met Topaz' family I hit the lowest point of my life so it took a while before I could even think about connecting with strangers, and after that I felt it wasn't allowed because I'm used to everyone being bloodist (saying that family isn't yours unless you are related by blood), and by the time I felt like I was allowed, he wasn't able to connect on a mental level due to Papaw's dementia. I feel like there was a sliver of time when I had a chance but I didn't realize it and I hate that I didn't realize it. I felt so grateful to at least be able to connect in our own unspoken way though.
Then November 26th of 2017, Topaz' Memaw died. She was a fierce and accomplished person who fought for an equal rights amendment and wrote a book about her life. I admired her and wished I had had the chance to connect with her more. Her dementia progressed on a similar timespan to Papaw's but was more external and had a lot of emotive aspects to it, so it was harder to handle. But it was so sweet and she was so supportive of me and Topaz.
When I first met Memaw, Topaz told her that we were partners and she was openly and comfortably supportive -- she later forgot, but knew that we were best friends and expressed strong support for that as a valid kind of family, which meant just as much to me honestly. There isn't societal oppression of best friends, but all my life I have felt that my greatest loves were treated as unimportant because they weren't romantic nor blood-linked nor legality-linked, so I have deep personal feelings of being marginalized in that way. I felt like Memaw saw us in a very true way whether she remembered we were romantic or not. I wished I'd had the chance to get to know her before dementia put the possibility out of reach.
On March 28th, 2018, Saleena died. They're someone I saw at least twice a month from summer 2009 to spring 2011. After that we drifted, but I always meant to pick up again. I had wondered about how Saleena was and how their life was going several times in the months before they died and I regret thinking "I'll have plenty of time." Saleena was near my age so I never expected her to die so soon.
At some point during the past decade two of my aunts died, but I saw them only a few times in my life and never really had a chance to connect with them. They never reached out and I didn't either. Last year or maybe the year before, my last biological grandparent died but I never had any connection with her either, so I did not care.
I'm not including deaths of other beings, but trees, cats, and fish have also left little scars on my heart, usually with the same wish that I had made more time for them. You'd think with this constant refrain I'd reach out to people all the time but I still procrastinate constantly.
Doing this prompt has made me realize that of all the deaths that impacted me, most of them occurred in the same calendar week - between March 27th and April 2nd. and two more happened right before that in the same season. I suddenly have more understanding of why late March through April has been hard for me the past few years... I also broke up with Kei-won-tia in 2015, had a hiatus in my most important relationship in 2016, and broke up with Evelyn in 2017 all in that same time period. I'm feeling a little more self-compassion about my lack of productivity in the past 2 months now.