On Being A Beginner, Again

I know how to do a lot of things. I know how to search for a missing person with a toothbrush and a comb. I know how to stage a funeral when there’s no body, and how to resurrect a broken one. I know how to take my child to a doctor when the bleeding doesn’t stop and when the blade of fear serrates the inter-be. What I don’t know is how to live in this world without my son.

When I say I don’t feel joy anymore, I’m not just having a down day. My brain has learned to protect itself from comments like, everything’s gonna be alright, nothing else bad can happen to you! But what if that bad thing is true? I know this is an inside job. We all try to talk ourselves loose from the grip of ruination during fearful times but, I have a LinkedIn feed with Hades, because those really bad things are true. They’re real, they’re molten, and they are mine.

And I don’t know how to reframe with this suffering. These ghosts, and us, are not isolated entities. We’re all a part of each other, his brother and I, their dead father, the house, the music, the ponds, the air. Our shared existence has outlasted two fathers and a foremother who co-created him. We’ve endured terrorism, ambiguous loss, relocation, depression, addiction, resurrection. I’ve rallied through baseball seasons, tennis tournaments, music festivals, and college tours. And 27 delicious, hand-sifted birthday cakes. Suicide. Fuck! That breaks everything. My brain is still trying to cope.

My therapist says it’s not my wrong, for not saving him. Friends tell me that I should be happy that my other son is here and doing well. And yes, I really am grateful, but he still isn’t really here. Suicide takes so much. He’s not who he was before the suicide, before the ensuing emotional crashing and mid-COVID hospitalization. He’s apprehensive visiting home, making their music, and returning the shots they used to serve each other. He’s strip-wired, fidgety in my company, anxious on the phone, cautious of my grief while grasping for unbroken remnants of the mother he hungers for.

And the pandemic has been no Dormouse dozing in the back row of the theater— reminding my Gen-Z’s that death is random and imminent, that regardless of your laudable human qualities, bad things can take you out faster than you can shout “wait… don’t tell me!” And it did, for them it took jobs, apartments, friends, safety, and aspirations. Sudden, unexpected death has shifted the lens through which I see the world. It’s changed the way I feel about my life, again.

The recent bad things have accelerated my need for mental health work and journeying out from under my weighted blanket to explore new places and relationships. But, I feel like so many of my relationships are on hold. I can communicate through social media, PM’s, and memojis, but I don’t know how to be me when I socialize. Because I’m so complex. Because I see my traumas mirrored in their eyes before they shift to palliate their own discomfort. And it’s so exhausting.

So, when it comes to feeling joy and happiness, I’m a beginner all over again. A journeywoman seeking alignment with my higher good, brushing the untouched surfaces of the golden topaz that’s been buried face-down in the sand. I want to rediscover joy. I want to be different. It’s not so much that I’m afraid to be vulnerable, it’s about listening to the messengers drumming my spine. I’ve come to realize that I can be both grateful and terrified, which means I’m so grateful that I’m alive and I have my son today, but it’s so different, and the world is so much more fragile now.

© Deborah Garcia 2022, All rights reserved
Image by Deborah Garcia

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