The grave is where we are the most human.”

It’s so painfully true and necessary. In my 46 years of life, death has rarely been a stranger. I remember the first my great-great grandmother. I loved her dearly, and I know she loved me. Her love was like a big, strong fortress that kept me safe and made me feel protected. As a child, I remember being told that I would not see her anymore, and I remember sadness being like a rainy day.My wish to play didn’t change because of the weather outside, but I remember standing looking out the window and watching the rain, just wishing it would go away so I could resume my normal play time. My next most memorable death was our Elderly neighbor. I remember going to the funeral and hearing the choir sing opera. As a group of preteen girls, we thought it was funny to hear them singing happy songs at a funeral, and I remember looking into the casket at her face, because of my visual nature, I saw her lying in the casket in my dreams for weeks. I could not sleep in the dark because I was afraid to close my eyes. That was when I feared death and funerals.

Time progressed on and the next death was my godfather Benjamin. His death unlike the others, provoked a different group of emotions and expressions. Someone murdered him, and his death brought anger and revenge. That anger remained with me for years. It was like a mask I used to protect myself from feeling anything other than angry. Unfortunately, that anger defined a part of my teenage years.The years passed, and I married and moved far from home. My new family was the beginning of my new life. As a military dependent in Germany, death reached me by phone and just when my life was looking up, death flipped it upside down. The sudden death of my beloved godmother took my breath away. Like a beautiful sailboat, we were sailing into what we believe was a beautiful horizon, and out of nowhere, this storm came and took our sail under into the deep waters of sadness. I remember feeling lost and without support. As a young adult, how could I move forward? Death had arrested my heart with hopelessness.

As an adult, death became much like a holiday. It was as if its visits were frequent and scheduled. My grandmother-in-law, my uncle, my mother and my Daddy, then later my mother-in-law and my father-in-law. So many significant people, all gone. Death are you living with us for good? How could we move past the pain and emptiness?I look back on it now, and I am amazed at the strength of the human heart. Life fills us up and death leaves us empty. Now at 46, I no longer fear death or funerals. When death came this time, I waited on it and watched for it. I looked it in its face and allowed it to teach me. I allowed it to break me. I allowed it to cover my heart with loneliness, and sorrow, now I truly see who you are, Mr. Death. You are the regulator of our humanity! You teach us to live with purpose, love deeply and to let go freely. Only God knows it all. We are all only human..