Here’s a thing that I’ve experienced a lot: I don’t want to intrude on someone else’s grief.
It’s funny because as Alyssa says, grief is one of the emotions that we all share. We all know that we’ll feel it. It is different every time but some day, every one of us will have the breath ripped out of us by the blow of someone’s loss. I don’t think that grief is owned by the handful of people someone loved the most. I think that we impact on one anothers’ lives in many ways. We feel each others presence, sometimes without even noticing it. And when we are gone, loss isn’t a zero-sum game.
I wasn’t as close to Niki as many of you were. I got to know her when I joined the Orbit before our launch. I always appreciated her voice, whether that be through her blog, her Facebook, or her contributions to our various backchannel chats. She was always the voice against caution- the person who’d speak up for doing what was right regardless of the consequence. Many of us, myself included, are more inclined to be swayed by our fears. For me, Niki was a counterpoint to that caution.
And now she’s gone, and I’m gonna have to figure out for myself how to be brave when I want to hide.
But that is where my sadness lies: it’s a regret that we never knew one another better or met in person. It’s an absence. I would never, ever compare this to what so many of you are going through.
It’s also an unfairness. How on earth are thirty-five years enough for a person to exist? To be? I’m just a couple of years younger than she was, and I feel like I’m just getting started. We’re supposed to have decades, aren’t we? We’re supposed to have twice thirty-five and more. Long, beautiful decades to live, share, create, love, play, and to fight for what matters to us. We’re supposed to have time to say goodbye at the end of it all.
And I guess, in a way, I feel profoundly grateful for that. How rare and precious is it to live in a time when we can expect most of the people around us to live to be old? To die with skin so wrinked and saggy that it’s almost impossible to recognise the young person we once were. How fucking beautiful is that?! Cause I look around at the people I love and I know that I’ve lived my life expecting- not just hoping, but expecting- that one day we’ll be old together.
And it’s hard to feel grateful for that without remembering that it’s not something we all get to expect. How the circumstances of our lives and our selves make the world a far more precarious place for some of us than for others. That that’s not just theory and it’s not abstract: it’s a reality that people like me can ignore if we choose to.
I don’t have a good way to wrap this up. I guess that’s appropriate.
But hello again, everyone. I guess it looks like I’m back.