In life, there is suffering. Buddha taught us, and Jesus showed us. Life can be full of pain and sorrow. It is difficult to grasp when others are purposefully inflicting pain on us and are relentless in their pursuit.
All the emotions I felt during the week didn’t compare to what I felt last night. Before getting ready to go to bed I read that a cemetery in my hometown had been vandalized. The headstones were knocked over, as many as 300, and some were damaged. I wasn’t sure if it was where some of my loved one’s were buried or not but I felt a pull in my heart. I called my mother and told her about what happened. She hadn’t heard anything about it until I called. I mentioned the name of the cemetery and she spoke with my father and confirmed it was where my grandparents and great grandparents were buried, and where my parents, brother and I have plots where I may also be buried one day.
A flood of emotions I couldn’t stop went through me and tears poured from my eyes. I went upstairs and felt the loss run through me. I couldn’t understand how people could choose to be so cruel.
I remembered being in that cemetery to bury my grandmother, and all that pain returned of the loss of someone I loved so dearly. As I’m writing, it’s difficult to hold back the tears. I remember standing with family members in the cold, wet weather and seeing her casket prepared for lowering with all the flowers and tears.
I’ve realized, people will hurt you in life no matter what your intentions. People will take advantage of an opportunity to be unkind. People can be vicious and cruel, unloving and lack any remorse of what their actions do to others on a deep level. Sometimes we have to endure the pain.
Everything else that happened in the week that was painful was washed away by the flood of pain I felt last night. My mind let go of the weeks difficulties imposed on me, and turned to remembering how much I loved my grandparents and how much they loved me.
I remember seeing my grandfather sick, in the hospital in so much pain from diabetes and gangrene setting in. The nerves in his feet excruciating. How different he looked as he became so thin and how difficult it was to see him suffering. They wouldn’t be able to amputate his legs like other family members had been because of his heart being too weak. I remember when my grandmother was dying how we’d talk on the phone, how different it was as she got weaker. I got a phone call from my mother telling me she had passed away. That same flood of pain I felt again last night. The uncontrollable feeling of loss. When I found out, I held onto a picture of her I had onto my dresser and cried. She gave me pictures of herself from an old album the Christmas before. She gave me a spiritual picture that Christmas as well that she had on her wall since I could remember from my childhood of Jesus knocking on a door in a garden of flowers. She died a few months later, a week after my birthday.
My grandmothers funeral was the first I went to, which was open casket. I remember walking in that room, after traveling home, and seeing her lay lifeless. All that pain came back last night. The memories of the loss returned because of someones cruel intentions to vandalize symbols of loved ones. When I arrived and got in the car of my brother, there were no words I could say, only tears could say what I felt. When arriving at the funeral home I entered, saw my mother and father and could only cry. I saw for the first time someone I had enjoyed so much time and shared so much love with in a casket. My uncle brought me over to her casket and we kneeled in front of her. I remember seeing her hands crossed with a rosary between them. When I saw her thumbs for the first time with real clarity, I saw my thumbs, and saw myself in her. I saw who she was as a part of me.
When I was younger I was told I have “piano fingers” and I was always self conscious because I was thin, and I would try to hide my thumbs. But when I saw my grandmothers hands crossed, I felt shame, as if I had dishonored who she was by dishonoring and not accepting myself for who I am. Her hands were my hands, and I loved her so much. Disapproving of myself was like disapproving of her, and it was painful to realize. I had lost her.
My grandmother loved this song and it was played at her wake.
It’s worth the pain I’ve felt many times throughout my life to have known you.
Having had the opportunity to feel real love for people in life, makes all the pain and suffering worth it. It felt as though, through all the pain, they were there again, to be with me, at least in spirit. Reassuring me, and reminding me that there is love and kindness in the world, and we had the opportunity to share that with one another.
I’m reminded of the title of a book, which I’ve never read but have heard of – “Yesterday I cried”
And I will cry many more times in life.