over and over.
I used to think I wanted to.
I used to flirt with death using the same razors
mama used to shave calluses from her
hard working heels
but now I know better
when walking feels like
dry heaving my broken insides
when it feels like vomiting
the pieces of me
that have loosened in me
since she left
pieces trying to force themselves out of my body
but I hang onto them
no matter how sharp
and I die
from doing this.
I die when I remember her face
I die when I can feel how soft her hand was in mine
in my mind and
I can never feel it again.
– Rachel R. Vasquez, June 2018
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
I wrote this around 4 months after my mama died. Grief feels very surreal in the beginning. Our culture truly does not give grievers enough time before they have to throw themselves back into the daily grind.
I went back to work about a week and a half after her passing. I remember walking in the streets, physically straining to hold myself back from what felt like dry heaving. I can’t describe it. It wasn’t necessarily about being nauseous all the time. It was like, being a water balloon ready to burst and with any poke, gentle or otherwise, the balloon will splatter into a mess. I felt like I was literally hanging on by a hair, trying to keep myself from literally collapsing in the streets in pure agony.
Sometimes it did feel like “Fuck, I’m going to throw up,” because the horror of loss and witnessing death feels that way. Sometimes it was more like an unfathomable sorrow and pain that I could barely contain within myself in silence.
It’s like being punched in the gut multiple times. There’s only so many times you can let yourself get punched without ever making a sound. Sometimes the pain is so great, the only relief is to make a sound – to cry, to scream, to release.
There were many times I couldn’t hold it back, and I had to pull myself into a restroom stall or even face a wall in the subway to just break down. Let some of the tsunami out just enough so that I could return to appearing “normal” and walk that fine line between sanity and the insanity that is grief.
There were mornings I didn’t make it to work, and the mornings I did, it felt like a drunken haze, an alternate reality I was being forced to live in. How do people laugh? Go to work? Keep going about their lives when this life is missing from this earth? When this life has been snuffed? How does no one notice when the sun is blotted from the sky?
I wrote this back then. It’s been a year and 4 months since she passed now. While it’s no longer a physical strain on a daily basis to hold back my grief, it still comes in waves. Ever since, I’ve been following only a single line of advice. Take it one day at a time.