It’s been a decade since the hardest year of my life, at least in terms of deaths.
For those who do not know me, here’s some history. On January 7, 2007…the first Sunday of the year, my grandfather Shird “Mose” Moses was taken from this life by, if I remember right, a stomach blockage. This was the same day I found out I had been laid off from my job at the Florence Sears. So I took those two hits…and I keep pressing forward. Because that’s what I would do. I ended up suffering a few more, less devastating blows that month but cumulatively, they were enough to require mental health treatment.
Fast forward about 5 months. June 8, 2007. My stepfather gets word early that morning that his father, Mitch Herald, suffered a severe hemorrhage. He did not live more than another 18 hours, passing away that night. Another blow. I found myself staggering, but I withstood it because I learned from the first series of shots. I somehow ducked a lot of the painful hits, even watching his widow, my grandmother Sally Herald, collapse at the funeral home.
Then…the third, and probably most devastating blow hit on August 18. This one…was a LOT closer to my heart. My aunt Katherine Ludwick committed suicide. Age 43, approximate date of death 8/17/07. Two days before my 22nd birthday. I had seen her the week prior. And the thing was…I could and rightfully should have seen what happened coming because of my own experience in January. The problem was…I was nearly numb to everything because I had already taken multiple hits the previous 7 months. I could do nothing.
Yet… I beat myself up for nearly 9 years. I kept telling myself I should have done something, said something. I didn’t. And I lost my aunt to suicide because I didn’t act.
It’s taken me 10 years, but I’m at a point at age 31 where I’m ten years older and wiser. I realize now that I never fully recovered from the earlier losses that year — which left me in no position to help my aunt when she desperately needed it. That’s not my fault and I can’t beat myself up over it anymore.
I’ve come to find something else too. It’s okay to take a moment, 2 years, 5 years, ten years, etc.. down the line to remember. But I can’t wallow in grief. When I came into 2017, I honestly was prepared to face the ten year anniversaries and be a blubbering mess for multiple days. But… I can’t. That’s not how my grandpa Moses, grandpa Mitch, or aunt Kathy would want me to go about this year. I’m now redoubled. 2017 may be ten years without all three on this planet, but they’re all still here with me. I intend to live 2017 in that way.