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Inspired by the music video for “Birds” by Imagine Dragons, which features a child coming to grips with their parent’s death -wrestling with the temporary nature of life and death.
CW: Death, Grief
The death of a loved one never stops hurting.
Not only because you miss them; but also because you miss the life you could have had.
“I know that birds fly in different directions…”
For me, my dad passed away when I was very young and I didn’t just lose him, I lost everything.
I lost an entire side of the family, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles who no longer spoke to me for reasons unfathomable at a such young age. At 30, I still don’t understand.
My mom was awash in the unimaginable grief of losing her husband as well as her father within a month of each other. She was never the same again.
My brother was consumed with anger and rage. He had never been kind to me but now that Dad wasn’t around, no one could really protect me from his violent outbursts and assaults.
I lost my childhood to trauma. I lost my teenage years trying to survive my family situation. I lost my young adult-hood to self-loathing and self-medication. I lost my late twenties to mental illness and burnout.
I lost everything.
“Seasons they will change, life will make you grow, dreams will make you cry, cry….”
I often think about what would life have been if my dad hadn’t of died.
Would I have lost so much of my childhood to trauma? Would our family have been as poor, as messy, as unhappy, or as violently dysfunctional as it was?
Would we have had dinner together at the table instead of apart in our rooms? Would we have talked through our feelings instead of hitting each other? Would my dad have walked me down the aisle at my wedding instead of leaving an empty seat in the front row?
I’ll never know.
And that uncertainty might be the thing I grieve for the most.
“Life will make you grow, death can make you hard, hard…”
Some days I feel such rage at the loss of something I never even had. I’m consumed with the injustice of not having a happy childhood or family.
I feel like something was stolen from me and to make matters worse – it’s something I can never, ever get back.
“Everything is temporary, everything will slide. Love will never die, die…”
But mostly I just feel sad for it.
Because every once in a while my mind catches a bittersweet glimmer of a happy memory: When my parents took us apple-picking and Dad let me stand on his shoulders to reach the tallest ones. My Mom gently singing me “Rock-a-bye-baby” to get me to sleep. My brother and I happily shelling beans together on the patio in the hazy heat of the summer.
Those memories quell my anger and remind me that there was a time when we were happy and golden. As the song goes – “everything is temporary, everything will slide.” Some days are good, some seasons are bad. It all comes and goes.
“I know that birds fly in different directions. So fly high. So fly high…”
Things have come full circle now.
I’m a grown up with my own family. It’s small so far, but it’s strong, stable, and full to the brim with happiness. Even my mom has become part of our little unit and I think that’s helped her to gain back some of the joy she lost along with my dad.
Sometimes I get scared that I’ll lose it all again just like my parents did. And that might happen, we never know.
All I know is that I don’t really have to wonder what a good family is like after all.
I knew it all along but just didn’t recognize it until now. Being with my partner is the same golden feeling as those summer evenings on the patio with my mom, my dad, and my brother.
Just goes to show- everything changes but love, love never truly dies.
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