I’m not writing this post because I think I know everything there is to know about loss. I don’t think I have all the answers. In fact, I have a very limited experience with death and grief and legitimate soul-gripping sadness. But this, I can say… It’s changed me. It changes me every day. Every day is the hardest day yet, and so far it hasn’t gotten any easier.
The first thing I’ve learned about grief is that everyone does it differently. Death effects everyone in completely unique way, and it never effects you in the way you think it will. For example. When I first got the call that my Aunt was sick, I was devastated. That was expected. And then she passed, and I was calm. Not super calm. Like, seeing my family upset made me upset, but for the most part I was okay. That was moderately unexpected. And then before I knew it, it was the day of the funeral. I didn’t shed a single tear until the very end, where I cried for maybe 2 minutes. Didn’t cry at the graveside at all. This was completely and totally unexpected. As close as I was to my Aunt Stacie, I expected my grief to throw me into a black hole of unending sadness and misery. But it didn’t. (Well, hadn’t… Yet.)
The weird thing about grief is that most of the time, I’m fine with my Aunt Stacie not being here anymore. I wouldn’t bring her back, even if I could. Not even for an hour or for “one last conversation”. THAT is my Aunt Stacie’s legacy. She was such an amazing person that I don’t have a single doubt about who she was or where she’s at now or how much she loved me. Loved all of us. I’m genuinely happy she’s in heaven. I’m happy that she’s with God and her Daddy and Johnny Cash and all the friends and family that went before her. I’m happy she isn’t in pain anymore… Most of the time. Grief hits me when I think about her being here. Grief hits me when I think about what she’d be doing if she were here. Grief hits me when I think about what she’d say to me in a certain situation or about something going on in my life. Grief hits me when I realize I’m following a path she taught me to walk. Or when I realize I’m learning a lesson she tried to teach me. That’s when I grieve.
It’s almost like the longer she’s not here, the more I grieve. Like the more time I could be spending with her that passes, the more I realize that she’s really gone. Maybe that’s why I wasn’t upset at the funeral… I didn’t yet realize that she was gone. I didn’t realize she wasn’t just a phone call away because duh, she’s laying right up there!
I am lucky that Aunt Stacie is buried in a cemetery maybe 3 miles from my house. I’ve gone to visit her about once a week since she’s passed. I don’t try to go that often. Sadly, most of the time, I just end up there. It’s really sad when there’s a world full of people and the one you need lives in a cemetery.
I’ll give you guys an example of something that’s really gotten to me:
My sister’s 21st birthday. On my 21st birthday, we had a family dinner with my first margarita and Mexican food. Aunt Stacie showed up, of course, and somehow through the course of the meal she convinced me to go with her to a bar. In Monaville. One of her bars. And have a beer. She took me to the bar that night and bought me my first legal beer. One of the first things my sister said to me after my Aunt passed was “I’m never gonna get to have a beer with Aunt Stacie” and in that moment I decided that I was going to make it happen. So on the night of my sister’s 21st birthday, me and my boyfriend and Bailey and her boyfriend all met with beer at the cemetery and had a beer with Aunt Stacie. Even poured a little out for our homie. That night was particularly hard for me because all I could think was “It’s not supposed to be like this”. She should be here. She should be dragging Bailey to Monaville even though she has work tomorrow. But she isn’t.
And most of the time, I’m fine. I’m blessed that I don’t stay up all night wondering if Aunt Stacie is in heaven or hell. I’m blessed that even though we hadn’t talked in a while, I knew exactly how much she loved me and how much I meant to her. I’m blessed that she left me little comments on my blogs and Facebook posts that I randomly come across.
I know this blog wasn’t Fitness related. Sue me. I needed to write this more than any of you needed to read it. Aunt Stacie was so proud of my fitness journey and who I am as a person. I remember one time she texted me and said “I’m up late reading you blogs. I check them about once a week. I don’t really know why I’m so proud of you because I didn’t raise you and I definitely didn’t teach you how to write. But when I read you blogs I’m moved to tears. Your passion and intelligence is clear in your writing. Love you” or something to that effect.
In closing, I’ll leave you with this. During the funeral people kept saying how lucky they were to know her. How lucky they were to that she had effected them. My Aunt Stacie didn’t effect me. She was the opposite of an effect. She was a cause. She’s the reason I drive a Camaro. Exclusively Aunt Stacie. She’s the reason I’ve held onto my Johnny Cash obsession. She’s the reason I was courageous enough to choose a technical school instead of going to college. She’s the reason I hang out in bars when I get the chance. She’s the reason I don’t necessarily want kids. She’s the reason I chase the sun [direct shameless reference to Krista]. She’s the reason I know family doesn’t mean a blood type or traits. She’s the reason I love the ocean. And she’s the strongest woman I’ve ever had the privilege of loving.
Stacie Lynn Stech
I already know what happens when I give up. I want to see what will happen if I don't.